Documents to download

Although the Taliban had been steadily gaining territory in rural Afghanistan, the speed at which it has regained control of the country has surprised many observers.

The Taliban offensive was often met with little or no resistance from the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) whose credibility has been under increasing scrutiny. On 15 August Taliban forces entered Kabul unopposed. The Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani, has left the country and his Government has collapsed.

The United States and the UK have deployed military personnel to Afghanistan to assist in the safe evacuation of diplomatic staff and other country nationals and to help accelerate schemes to relocate former locally employed Afghan civilians.

The international community has called on the Taliban to assure the safe departure of foreign nationals and Afghans who wish to leave the country and asked neighbouring countries to keep their borders open.

Talks aimed at a peaceful transfer of power are expected to be held in the next few days. The Taliban has said it will form an “an open, inclusive Islamic government”. It is widely expected that the Taliban will move to formally proclaim the establishment of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. 

The Taliban has issued various statements assuring Afghans that “their properties, their lives are safe” and that “there will be no revenge on anyone”. The Taliban has previously said it would respect human rights and the freedoms of women and girls under Sharia law and offered an amnesty to those who have worked for the Afghan Government or for coalition forces, suggesting they had nothing to fear if “they show remorse”. In the Taliban’s first press conference on 17 August Taliban Spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, called on the international community to engage with the new Talilban government, although there had to be acceptance and respect for the Taliban’s laws and religious rules. He said the rights of women would be respected, they would be able to work and get an education, with the framework of Sharia law. 

Many Afghans remain sceptical of Taliban claims. In areas where the Taliban have taken control, there have been widespread reports of strict Sharia law being imposed, extrajudicial killings of civilians and house to house searches for Afghans who worked either for the Afghan Government or coalition forces. There are increasing reports of war crimes violations.

The US Special Representative for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, and several of his counterparts have said: “the international community will not accept any government that seeks to take control of Afghanistan by force”.

The UK has called for countries not to unilaterally recognise a Taliban government, calling instead for a consensual approach within the international community.

However, the Taliban is not entirely isolated on the international stage. Pakistan has, in the past, supported the Taliban and in recent weeks Russia, China and India have all held talks with Taliban representatives. On 16 August 2021, a Chinese Government spokesperson stated that it was “ready to develop friendly and cooperative relations” with the new Taliban government. The Russian Ambassador to Kabul, Dmitry Zhirnov, has suggested that the Russian Government will decide on recognising the Taliban government, based on its future conduct.

Documents to download

Related posts