One Big Thing: Does the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan weaken its global influence?
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As the Taliban continues to solidify power in Afghanistan following the United States’ military withdrawal, other foreign powers including Russia and China have begun diplomatic engagement with the terrorist group’s leaders. Beijing has suggested that they could support the Taliban if they cut ties with a separatist movement in China’s Xinjiang province where they are incarcerating millions of Uighurs. Last month, Taliban leaders met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi where he promised that China would not interfere in Afghanistan’s internal affairs, and that the Taliban would be expected to “play an important role in the process of peace, reconciliation and reconstruction” of the country. Similarly, Russia has expressed interest in cooperating with the Taliban but has simultaneously demonstrated caution by expanding military exercises with neighboring Tajikistan. Moscow has designated the Taliban as a terrorist group but has hosted Taliban officials several times in recent years. US military intelligence also concluded that Russia worked with the Taliban as recently as 2019 by offering bounties for US soldiers in Afghanistan. Finally, many experts believe that Pakistan has played a major role in the Taliban’s unexpectedly swift takeover of Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul. For many years the US has suspected ties between Pakistan’s intelligence agency and the Taliban.
Other foreign powers have supported the Afghan people and condemned the Taliban’s human rights record and treatment of women and girls. Following an emergency meeting of its Foreign Ministers, the European Union stated that it will only cooperate with the Taliban if they respect fundamental rights, including those of women, and prevent the use of Afghanistan’s territory by terrorists. The EU has no plans of recognizing the Taliban as the legitimate government but will work with the terrorist group on humanitarian issues and evacuating its citizens. The United Nations has advocated for an end to hostilities in Afghanistan, humanitarian aid to the country, and the creation of a representative government that will protect the rights of women and keep the country from once again becoming a haven for global terrorist plots.
Keep up to date on the latest developments in Afghanistan HERE
Read more on the Taliban’s human rights record HERE
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