U.S and Engineering the Inclusive Government in Afghanistan
There is one issue that has kept the Taliban government's foreign policy ambiguous in the region and at the international level: Whether the Taliban is trying to maintain Afghanistan's neutrality in the competition between the US and the region, or it may seek alignment with the US rather than cooperation with regional countries in future. International politics studies show that countries that do not have financial ability and self-sufficiency cannot really adopt a policy of neutrality. Due to its financial inevitabilities, the Taliban government has also initiated more information and political interaction with the West and the United States, in spite of maintaining its diplomatic relations with the countries of the region. This level of interaction between the Taliban and the United States has caused the American government to try to engineer its desired inclusive government in Afghanistan.
By: Abdulrahim Kamel
The meetings between Taliban and American officials in Pakistan and in Persian Gulf states have increased significantly in recent months. The initial results of these efforts have led to American cash support to the Taliban government, which includes an aid package of 40 million dollars per week. In addition to that, the U.S government has recently considered another 10million dollar aid package under the title of "supporting the Taliban in the fight against the Islamic State".
The evidence shows that following the relations of the US Central Intelligence Agency officials with the Afghan Intelligence officials in Pakistan and Qatar, political efforts and diplomatic interactions between the US and the Taliban have recently been going on publically and extensively.
The recent meeting of Tom West, the US special representative for Afghanistan affairs, with the Taliban delegation led by Mullah Yaqub in Qatar, and after that, West's talk with a number of political opponents of the Taliban outside Afghanistan, as well as his talk with Abdullah Abdullah and other conservative political leaders Inside Afghanistan, strengthens the speculations that the US is probably trying to form an inclusive government in Afghanistan.
It seems that a wide range of Taliban leaders consider the performance of the interim Taliban government to gain political legitimacy, official international recognition and exemption from the UN blacklist ineffective, and are trying to overcome this political deadlock. From this point of view, the only way out of this political deadlock is the formation of an inclusive government in Afghanistan, which all actors involved in Afghanistan's issues emphasize on.
Different analyzes show that the U.S government is trying to direct and engineer the formation of the inclusive government in Afghanistan. In this article, the nature of inclusive government desired by the U.S, and its consequences will be discussed.
1- U.S's goals to form an inclusive government in Afghanistan
After the U.S military withdrawal from Afghanistan, the initial impressions were that the Taliban and regional countries, will look for ways to ensure the Afghanistan's sustainable security and stability in the form of a "regional order". Immediately after the Taliban regained power in Kabul, the countries of the region began their diplomatic efforts with the Taliban government in the form of providing "regional order". Even now, some countries in the region- with Russia in the lead- are trying to practically complete the Qatar peace process, by setting the stage for political negotiations between the Taliban and political opponents (such as the National Resistance Front, and The Supreme Council of National Resistance for the Salvation of Afghanistan).
After The Ukraine war and confrontation of the West with Russia in the East of Europe, the US government actually started its efforts in Afghanistan in order to weaken the role of Russia, China and Iran in forming the political future of Afghanistan and managing the developments in this part of the Asia.
It seems that the U.S government officials have apparently reached this conclusion that they have won a relative victory in the diplomatic competition with the countries of the region regarding Afghanistan. It is predicted that if terrorist attacks on diplomatic missions and residences of the U.S rival countries in Afghanistan increase, the diplomatic presence and investors from countries in the region including China, will decrease.
If we depict the graph of these complex developments in Afghanistan, the result will lead to an upward trend in the role and presence of the United States in the developments of Afghanistan, and a decrease in the role of the rival countries of the United States.
With this point of view, this perception is strengthened that the U.S effort to organize an inclusive government in Afghanistan is basically aimed at taking the political initiative from regional countries which are the rivals of the West in Afghanistan. A review of the history of US-Afghanistan political relations shows that the U.S has always used Afghanistan as a battlefield, and for implementing its regional intelligence plans. It is precisely why the U.S presence has never led to the development of Afghanistan.
2- The structure of the possible Afghan inclusive government
The US government has the experience of an inclusive government in Afghanistan after Bonn 2001. After that conference, the U.S has also played a key role in several Afghan elections, and creation of subsequent governments. However, the nature of America's desired possible inclusive government in Afghanistan seems different this time.
Perhaps the American people and social elites - as American taxpayers to help Afghanistan - consider the presence and participation of Afghan women, social minorities, and Afghan civil society, as a basic condition in the formation of the next inclusive government. However, the U.S government still uses women's rights and the participation of social minorities and civil society as a leverage in its interaction with the Taliban. The developments caused by the change of the political system in Afghanistan in 2021, showed that the U.S government has no commitments regarding human rights, women's rights and human dignity outside the U.S territory, and when necessary, it sacrifices all human values for its political and materialistic interests.
On the other side, the Taliban government will stand with all its strength against the effective and significant participation of women, ethnic and religious minorities, civil society, and ethnic leaders in the structure of the next inclusive government. Due to their ethnic and religious views, a large number of Taliban fighters, and their ethnic and local leaders are strongly in favor of a mono-ethnic, exclusive and traditional government in Afghanistan. The presence and participation of women and seculars in the next Taliban government will question the status and purpose of Jihad among the radical and ideological fighters of the Taliban. The senior Taliban leaders are extremely afraid that any kind of political and modern development and reform that weaken the motivation and morale of their local and ideological fighters, will seriously endanger the political and military power of the Taliban in the future.
Nevertheless, it is likely that this time, the nature and structure of the inclusive government desired by the United States will be different from both the post-Bonn inclusive government, and from the government desired by the political opponents of the Taliban. It seems that the US and Taliban’s road map in forming an inclusive government is to provide a relative ground for participation of national conservative figures, such as Abdullah Abdullah, Hamid Karzai, and some traditional and local representatives, in the Taliban government. The government resulting from this political agreement has a "coalition" nature, and is fundamentally different from the "inclusive government" desired by the political opponents of the Taliban. However, this new government will resolve the existing political deadlock facing the Taliban. But this inclusive government does not have now the potential to be planned and structured as a permanent government. Hence, it is highly likely that this government will be formed as a transitional government with a specific mission, such as drafting the constitution and laying the groundwork for establishing a permanent government.
3- The level of interaction between the possible inclusive government and Western states
What has kept the foreign policy of the Taliban government ambiguous in the region and at the international level is that it is not yet clear whether the Taliban is trying to maintain Afghanistan’s neutrality in the competition between the United States and the region, or whether it might seek alignment with the US rather than go toward regional cooperation in the future. International politics studies show that countries that do not have the financial ability and self-sufficiency cannot adopt a policy of neutrality.
Due to its financial inevitabilities, the Taliban government has already initiated more information and political interaction with the West and the United States, in spite of maintaining its diplomatic relations with the countries of the region. This level of interaction between the Taliban and the United States has caused the American government to try to engineer its desired inclusive government in Afghanistan.
If the U.S succeeds in implementing this road map, interactions with/ support from the possible inclusive government will certainly become more than now. In this case, the possible inclusive government will also increase its interactions with the West more than the current Taliban government.
However, another fundamental question is whether permanent security and stability will really be established in Afghanistan after the implementation of this road map? The author believes that the establishment of an inclusive government in accordance with the US road map in Afghanistan does not mean ending the political conflict in Afghanistan. A Review of U.S foreign policy after 2001 shows that the U.S has adopted a "double game" policy in Afghanistan, the Middle East, Iraq and Eastern Europe. Unlike Afghan analysts, the author believes that the U.S government deliberately ignored the Taliban in Bonn agreements (2001) and since then, based on a long-term strategy, did not completely destroy the Taliban bases, and later used this group as an alternative. In this context, even assuming that the U.S desired inclusive government is established in Afghanistan, the U.S government will maintain and strengthen ISKP (Islamic State of Khorasan Province) or other groups which have local potentials, as a possible rival and alternative to the Taliban government.
4- The structure of the possible Taliban inclusive government
It should be accepted that the only real and de facto government in Afghanistan is currently the Taliban government. At first, the political opponents of the Taliban tried to preserve the model of the 1990s, as a legitimate international source, but they could not do that- At that time, even though almost all of Afghanistan was in the Taliban’s control and the Taliban had been recognized by several countries, Burhanuddin Rabbani still managed to maintain the ownership of Afghanistan’s official government. Currently, the political bargaining conditions for the political opponents of the Taliban are limited. Therefore, if a coalition or inclusive government establish, it is the political opponents of the Taliban that should be integrated into the Kabul government.
However, the Taliban never want the future government of Afghanistan to have an extensive and one-layer system. It is because of this political prudence that the Taliban leadership has turned Kandahar province into the political capital and strategic depth of the Taliban, along with Kabul as the diplomatic capital of Afghanistan.