‘Kabul safe under Taliban’: Why countries like China, Russia have become favourite of terrorist group

Even as images of Afghans crouching on the tarmac of Kabul airport and glued to the undercarriage of planes shocked the world on Monday and underscored the desperation of leaving many, many countries in the country. He praised the Taliban for ensuring “peace and security”. As the Taliban take control of Afghanistan, here’s how the insurgent group ties in with international powers:

The neighboring country, which refused to recognize Taliban rule when it first occupied Afghanistan in 1996, was one of the first to open doors to extremists as they began to make territorial gains in the war-torn country amid withdrawal. Did. of American forces. China has already evacuated 210 of its citizens from Afghanistan in a chartered plane this week.

The Taliban has said it views China as a “friend” of Afghanistan and has assured Beijing that it will not host Uighur Islamist militants from the volatile Xinjiang province, a major concern for the Chinese government.

China’s remarkable innings was on display in late July, when its Foreign Minister Wang Yi welcomed a Taliban delegation to the northern port of Tianjin as the group made gains against the administration of President Ashraf Ghani, who fled the country on Sunday. Were. Wang’s support of the Taliban’s “critical role” in governing Afghanistan provided a significant boost to legitimacy for an organization that has long been a global pariah for its support of terrorism and the suppression of women.

Beijing is concerned that under Taliban rule, Afghanistan will become the center of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a separatist organization linked to al-Qaeda, which is insurgent in Xinjiang.

Russia’s ambassador to Afghanistan on Monday praised the Taliban’s conduct and said the group, which is still officially designated a terrorist organization in Russia, made Kabul safer than previous officials in the first 24 hours. Was.

Ambassador Dmitry Zhirnov’s comments reflect an undeniable effort by Russia to deepen its well-established ties with the Taliban, while for now, to recognize the radical Islamist group as the legitimate rulers of the country that Moscow has ceded. Tried to control before and failed. The Soviet Union withdrew its last army in 1989.

The country fought a 10-year war in Afghanistan that ended with the withdrawal of Soviet troops in 1989. It has made a diplomatic return to Afghanistan as a power broker, mediating between feudal factions with Washington as jockeys for influence in the country. In 2019, it hosted talks between various Afghan factions.

The Taliban delegation met senior Russian diplomats during two days of talks, emphasizing that the movement honors the end of an agreement signed last year on Qatar, where the Taliban holds a political office. According to a report in the Financial Times, President Putin is basking in a new relationship with the Taliban that he expects will be threatened by ISIS and al-Qaeda.

On Tuesday, Turkey said it welcomed the “positive message” given by the Taliban to the international community after it seized power in Afghanistan. “We welcome the positive messages given by the Taliban to foreigners, diplomatic missions and their own populations. I hope we will see (the same approach) in his actions,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Kavusoglu said in televised comments.

It has abandoned plans to capture Kabul airport after NATO’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, but is ready to support the Taliban’s request, two Turkish sources said on Monday after the terror group’s victory in Afghanistan was in turmoil. said between

Turkey, which has 600 troops in Afghanistan, had offered to keep them in Kabul for security and operation of the airport after other NATO members withdrew, discussing details with Washington and President Ashraf Ghani’s government. Had been.

The move to scrap the plans comes after Taliban insurgents swiftly conquered Afghanistan following US President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw US forces after a 20-year war that cost billions of dollars. Opposition parties in Turkey have criticized the government’s plans, saying such a mission would threaten Turkish troops and calling for their immediate withdrawal amid an escalation in violence.

Afghanistan’s neighbor Uzbekistan said on Tuesday it was in close contact with the Taliban and warned it would “strictly suppress” any attempt to breach its borders once the group effectively seizes power. . Former Soviet Uzbekistan, one of three Central Asian countries bordering Afghanistan, issued the statement after days of devastation in which Afghan troops illegally crossing into the republic while fleeing the Taliban’s advance amid the withdrawal of US-led forces. was seen doing.

Uzbekistan’s foreign ministry said it supported the pledge of “internal Afghan forces” for an inclusive government and said Tashkent “looks forward to achieving a comprehensive peace within the framework of intra-Afghan talks in Doha.” The ministry said it was in talks with the Taliban “on issues of ensuring the security of the borders and maintaining peace in the border region”.

Uzbekistan and Tajikistan both hosted Russia-led military exercises earlier this month near their borders with Afghanistan.

Iran, which shares a 900-kilometre (560 mi) border with Afghanistan, and hosts about 3.5 million Afghans, has also offered a hand of friendship to the Taliban. Iran’s new hardline conservative President Ibrahim Rasi said on Monday that the United States’ “defeat” in Afghanistan should herald a lasting peace in the neighboring, war-torn country. “The military defeat and US withdrawal from Afghanistan should provide an opportunity to restore life, security and lasting peace to that country,” Raisi was quoted as saying by his office.

The presidential statement came after the Taliban captured Kabul, but did not mention the fall of the Taliban nor the Afghan capital. Raisi, who made the remarks in a call with Iran’s outgoing Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, said the Islamic Republic wants good relations with Afghanistan.

In 1998, Taliban troops entered the Iranian consulate in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif, killing several diplomats and a journalist for an official news agency. The Taliban later said they were killed by individuals acting independently, but Tehran blamed the movement for the deaths, sparking outrage and nearly triggering an Iranian military intervention in Afghanistan. Analysts say Tehran is taking a pragmatic approach to the Taliban’s resurgence in Afghanistan.

The US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and the subsequent war in Afghanistan plunged the country into the disarray it is currently experiencing. Although the US is negotiating a peace deal with the Taliban that would allow US troops to withdraw from Afghanistan, the crisis is far from resolved.

Pakistan’s close ties with the Taliban, in particular, are considered central to resolving the current situation in Afghanistan. Although it is not the only regional state to have ties with the Taliban, it is seen by the US as one of the most important in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table to end the 18-year war. That’s because the country’s military has had longstanding ties with the Afghan militia since the group’s birth in the mid-1990s.

There are several key reasons why the Pakistani military continues to support the Taliban in Afghanistan. First, Islamabad sees the Afghan Taliban as legitimate representatives of a large part of Afghanistan’s Pashtun-majority population.

Second, the Pakistani military suspects unfriendly elements controlling Kabul. This has forced it to invest in a specific type of ideological militia, primarily because the men in uniform believed that – despite their internal differences – the Taliban would help Pakistan’s broader national security interests. This would separate the future Taliban government in Afghanistan from the political system led by the Northern Coalition. This situation is reminiscent of the foreign policy objectives guiding the domestic politics of the state.

Further, Pakistan’s security establishment may have learned lessons from its dealings with other terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). Based in Pakistan and alleged by India to be involved in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, the terrorist organization’s leadership comes from the largest Pakistani province of Punjab and remains on the right-hand side of the state.

This is when Lashkar-e-Taiba practices a particular model of violent extremism, where jihad is exported to foreign territories but not converted to Sharia inside the country. While the demands for Sharia implementation or Sharia interpretation are issues on which there are similarities between Lashkar and Islamic State of Khorasan (IS-K) or even Al-Qaeda. The main point of difference is that supporting Lashkar-e-Taiba and, according to Pakistan’s military, the Taliban is still seen as securing domestic security. This model has its limitations as the operational strategy may be relatively safe, but the ideology is not.

In Kashmir, Afghanistan talks could be the key to peace. Asia’s prominence in the geopolitical theater was in full display last week as tensions escalated between the two countries.

There seem to be many discrepancies in the attitude of the Pakistani military towards the Taliban. Particularly relevant is that, unlike during the 1990s when the Taliban in Afghanistan was under the central control of their leader Mullah Omar, the militia has now become a network with different leaders. This means that its violence is difficult to control and it is not easy for a state actor to decide whom to talk to. As a result, Pakistan itself has been the victim of attacks by groups based in its territory that were either part of or partnered with the more extensive Taliban network. However, these losses have not caused Pakistan’s military to back down from supporting the Taliban or engaging in Afghan politics.