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Attiq ur Rehman

What is the impact of the Taliban government on international relations and global security?

The changing patterns of great power politics rarely support the prevalence of the status quo in world politics due to multifaceted strategic differences between the states and their persistent growth in the international system. An unstoppable power-gaining struggle between the great powers results in various unexpected developments in the world where the contemporary situation of Afghanistan is not an exception. Witnessing the history of world politics and the changing dimensions of great power competition, the US withdrawal from Afghanistan has added another chapter in the history of international relations. Moreover, Biden’s plan for militarily evacuating Kabul has initiated a global debate on the changing nature of international relations and its impacts on global security. While rationally understanding post-US Kabul and the rise of neo-Taliban, the international system and the global security environment will witness the following probable developments.

1. Biden's decision to leave Afghanistan through the Doha peace agreement has let Taliban leadership realize their potential to fight with a superpower. Their quest to formulate a politically stable and ideologically desired government in Kabul has compelled the international intellectual communities to theoretically understand the Taliban's influence in Afghanistan instead of treating the violent non-state actors. The persistent struggle of the Taliban against foreign intervention forced Washington to change its perception of the Taliban and arrange productive negotiations on a peace settlement. Initially, considering them a terrorist organization and then inviting them as a dialogue partner has changed the strategic landscape of the international system where the role of non-state actors has become powerful than states. Creating a stable and peaceful government in Kabul, empowered by purely religious principles, will allow the international community to recognize the Taliban as an integral part of the Afghan nation instead of critically evaluating their role on their own land. Thus, the new Afghan government will be able to commence its functions on various legitimate grounds.

2. The international system will witness an improved and upgraded notion of Taliban because the contemporary role of Taliban and their reformed political attributes have challenged the conventional wisdom attached to the conceptual idea of Taliban. Their reformed ways of managing Afghan society and improved political attributes have already forced international intellectual circles to label them as Neo-Taliban or Taliban 2.0. Moreover, the Taliban's meetings with great powers to restore peace in Kabul and their objective for overhauling Kabul's economic collaboration with the outside world have communicated to the international community their vision of ensuring a stable Afghanistan. Now, people from around the world will see a new face of the Taliban and their political orientations beyond the traditional viewpoints.

3. The American unpredicted military withdrawal from Afghanistan without achieving the desired results of its global counterterror campaign has validated that the use of soft power was a more appropriate option in the post 9/11 world. Now, the international community has learned that soft power will be an appropriate option for dealing with the Taliban's Afghanistan because designing any military operation against post-American Afghan society would be unfavourable for external players. The new Afghan government will be efficient enough to neutralize any attempt of foreign intervention on their land. With the reemergence of neo-Taliban, the foreign-influenced Afghan leaders already fled Kabul and started settling in different other states. Contrary to the escaping leaders, the new government has announced a general amnesty for their opponents. By developing various cooperative ties with the new Afghan government, the international community will appreciate the new soft image of the Afghan society, which will alter the traditional standing of the Taliban in the international system. This situation will allow the international community to positively evaluate the role of the new Afghan government and their connections with the outside world.

4. After signing a peace agreement with Taliban leadership, the hasty American departure from Kabul has produced a power vacuum in the Asian political order, which would let the American counterbalancing forces increase their interaction with the Taliban government. Taliban’s peace dialogues with the Russian, Pakistani and Chinese leaders have already communicated Kabul's quest for exploring the world beyond the US. In other words, Washington's withdrawal plan is a symbolic defeat of the US which could be treated as an appropriate opportunity for other nations where Iran will also be a significant player.

5. The spillover effects of India-Pakistan rivalry on the surrounding regions have already activated the roles of China, the US, and Russia in the South Asian nuclear order. The South Asian interconnectedness to the global power competition between great powers cannot be separated from Afghanistan, where India was an important actor for supporting US presence in Afghanistan and keeping Washington and Kabul against Islamabad. Presently, the Taliban regime in Kabul will not let New Delhi use Afghan land against Afghanistan's neighbours. In this way, the Indian frustration will try to revise New Delhi's Afghan policy without changing its core values. As a result, a disturbed South Asian security environment will leave worse impacts on the global security environment due to the active positions of five nuclear powers (China, Russia, Pakistan, India, US) on the Afghan issue. Moreover, New Delhi's anti-neighbourhood policy and the objective of creating cooperative ties with the world beyond territorially adjoining nations will be reshaped.

6. Great power competition will intensify the international security environment in which the American state officials have started translating the Taliban's increasing interaction with the neighbouring great powers, Russia and China, a serious threat for Washington. In reaction to the growing concerns of Tehran, Beijing, Moscow, Islamabad, and New Delhi, Washington’s sense of vengeance will design a new South Asian policy while negatively examining the new Afghan government. As a result, the dynamics of power competition at the international level will be changed while keeping Afghanistan a gravitational point of great powers completion.

7. The combination of the Taliban's updated version and their increasing ties with the international community beyond the US will let the new Afghan government gain maximum recognition in the world. As a result, the new leadership in Kabul will be able to join the multilateral framework of agreements with the support of Russia and China, where the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) could be a preferred choice of the new Afghan government. It would be an unthinkable situation which would be an astonishing development for the whole world.

Apart from the scenarios mentioned above, there are a number of other probabilities which could change the conventional nature of international relations and global security. The traditional issues of Afghan sovereignty and the questions on Afghan nation's security will be less relevant to the Kabul under Taliban because the Taliban leadership has learned the lessons from their history, and now they have an objective of handling a country rather than pushing a country into the ashes of civil war. Under the changing regional and global geopolitical dynamics of great power competition, the new government in Kabul will be able to explore trading and business opportunities for securing the future of a prosperous Afghan nation.

Editor Assistant Research Fellow: Xianglin Gu



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