Confidential

The Taliban Regime 2022: What is next?

15 August 2021, the Taliban took over the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan. Photo by Frans van Huizen via Wikimedia Common.

Summary

The Taliban regime, also known as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), was established in August 2021. Indeed, the Taliban took control of parts of the Afghan territory (i.e., Herat, Kabul, Kandahar, and Konduz) after the withdrawal of the US troops from the region (Figure 1). The reestablishment of the IEA in 2021 shows how the US and its allies have not defeated the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan. On the contrary, the Taliban regime has been only weakened in these two decades of counterinsurgency. What is the future of the Taliban regime in 2022?

After the failure of the previous Taliban regime between 1996 and 2001, questions arise about the regime’s future. Differently, from 1996, the new government is more politically aware and engaged. However, the Taliban still applies some restrictions of the 1990s, damaging freedom of speech and gender rights. In addition, issues around the economic crisis, government legitimacy, and terrorist threats damage the new regime.

taliban
Figure 1. Taliban territorial control in Afghanistan.

Key Judgement 1

It is realistically probable that the international community will send humanitarian assistance to the starving Afghan population by December 2022

  • Following the withdrawal of the US troops from Afghanistan, the Afghan population plunged in a humanitarian catastrophe, characterized by food shortages. Afghanistan survives thanks to foreign aid and humanitarian campaigns. Therefore, he absence of foreign assistance threatens the lives of 22.8 million Afghan people.
  • The US economic sanctions imposed against the IEA frozen the possibility for the rehabilitation of a functioning economy. In 2022, the US and the UN will provide support to address humanitarian needs without giving legitimacy to the Taliban regime. However, foreign aid will not likely solve the economic crisis of Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s economic crisis will not be easy to solve. The international community face a dilemma standing between helping the Afghan population and simultaneously not funding the Taliban regime.
  • The US economic sanctions froze $9.5 billion of foreign funds after the Taliban takeover in the summer of 2021 . Some of these foreign funds, around $300 million, can be transferred to the UN and the World Food Programme (WFP) to reduce the level of starvation.

Key Judgement 2

It is unlikely that the western international community will recognise the Taliban regime as a legitimate state in the next 12 months

  • The US and other Western actors are sceptical about recognizing the IEA as a legitimate state. In 1996, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates recognized the Taliban government. On the contrary, the new regime is not accepted in the same way.
  • However, it is reasonably possible that in 2022 the US can recognise legitimacy to the IEA if they accept to commit in the fight of global terrorism. Particularly, the IEA must demonstrate that the territory will not become once again a haven for terrorist groups, such as Al-Qaeda.
  • Nonetheless, following the Article 1 of the Montevideo Convention, the IEA respects most of the parameters of state’s definition. Indeed, the Taliban regime possesses a defined territory, a government, and a permanent population. Unsurprisingly, the IEA cannot fulfil the last requirement of a functioning state namely the capacity to carry out relations with other states.

taliban regime
12 September 2020. US Secretary of State Pompeo meets the Taliban representatives in Doha, Qatar. Photo by US Department of State via Wikimedia Commons.

Key Judgement 3

It is unlikely that in 2022 the Taliban regime will support terrorist group as it will endanger the integrity and international recognition of the state

  • Learning from the drawbacks of the past, the Taliban regime will not likely host terrorist groups in Afghanistan. The presence of Al-Qaeda in 2000 brought to the longest counterinsurgency campaign in the US history. Therefore, it is reasonably possible that the IEA will help the US in counter terrorism campaigns by December 2022. Indeed, this relationship will beneficiate the IEA’s economic crisis.

  • However, it is questionable whether the Taliban will decide to compromise their extremist ideologies for international recognition.
  • The IEA already started to monitor fighters linked to Al-Qaeda. However, the credibility of their actions is questionable. Differently, the Taliban will actively help the US to fight the IS-K (The Islamic State in Khorasan Province), still present in some areas of Kunar and Nangarhar.

Author

Bianca Bonardi

Bianca is a graduate student in Criminology at Goldsmiths College of London. She recently finished her post-graduate studies in Terrorism and Security at King's College of London. Her research is mainly focused on Middle East issues and International Terrorist threats.

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