DUBAI: Isolating Afghanistan and its new Taliban rulers will never be an option, according to Qatar’s foreign minister, who claimed on Wednesday that engaging with the former insurgents may encourage the more moderate voices among them.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani made his remarks amid a flurry of diplomatic talks in Qatar, where the Taliban have had a political office for years in the run-up to their August takeover of Afghanistan.
After seizing control of Kabul and the rest of Afghanistan when US and NATO soldiers withdrew from the nation, the world has been watching to see how the Taliban transition from insurgency and war to governance.
The United States, ten European nations, and European Union diplomats met with Taliban leaders in Doha, Qatar’s capital, this week for the first time since the Taliban blitz.
Al Thani told a Doha gathering of counter-terrorism experts that Qatar believes the international community should “encourage and incentivize” the Taliban to take positive actions rather than punishing them for negative ones. “We believe it is critical to offer them with assistance,” he stated. This will serve as a motivator for improvement and onward movement. “This will offer an incentive for moderate power (voices) to be more prominent and successful in their administration,” Al Thani remarked.
In negotiations with the Taliban this week, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said the US made it clear that the group would be judged on its efforts in combating terrorism and respecting human rights.
He refused to discuss the various carrots and sticks approaches to Afghanistan’s central bank deposits, which are currently frozen abroad and out of reach of the Taliban leadership.
As we have done in previous weeks, we talked with the Taliban on a reasonable and pragmatic basis, concentrating on security and terrorism concerns, Price told reporters in Washington on Tuesday. The Taliban and the United States are both concerned about the jihadist Islamic State in Afghanistan, but the Taliban has ruled out working with the US to combat the group.
However, Afghanistan’s most pressing problem is rising poverty, which is exacerbated by the country’s reliance on international aid. Its financial system is failing, and millions are on the verge of starvation. The Taliban are having difficulty paying the salaries of most teachers, physicians, and 500,000 civil officials. Food prices have risen, and the country is having difficulty importing pharmaceuticals due to its isolation from the global banking system.
The EU unveiled a support package of 1 billion euros ($1.15 billion) on Tuesday, including 300 million euros ($346 million) already pledged to assist Afghans in the midst of the crisis. The United States, Afghanistan’s single largest donor, contributed $330 million this year.
Isolation would never be an option, according to Al Thani, who spoke at the Doha Global Security Forum. It is necessary to engage with whoever is in charge of Afghanistan because abandoning the country would be a huge mistake.