Does the World Need to Recognize the Taliban?

Can the international community continue to recognize Afghanistan without recognizing the Taliban?

Does the World Need to Recognize the Taliban?

A street vendor selling Taliban flags waits for customers outside the American embassy compound in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021.

Credit: AP Photo/Bernat Armangue

The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan collapsed on August 15, 2021 following the Taliban’s remarkably quick takeover of the capital, Kabul. Taliban militants entered the Presidential Palace after former President Ashraf Ghani’s flight, seized the seat of power, and proclaimed the beginning of a new era in Afghanistan. Taliban officials released a video on the evening of the takeover, in which Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s co-founder, voiced his wonder about their unanticipated victory and added his concern that the group would soon encounter serious obstacles to their rule in Afghanistan.

Baradar’s concern was not groundless. Following the takeover, thousands of Afghans rushed to the airport in Kabul, trying to flee the country. In early September, Afghan women flocked to the streets to protest the Taliban and the regime’s perspective toward their rights. Despite a Taliban ban on demonstrations without government approval, the protests continued.

In addition to the lack of popular support, the Taliban has also grappled with government dysfunction. Since the Taliban took power, Afghanistan has been engulfed in an economic and financial catastrophe, paralyzing banks and private firms, sending poverty and inflation rates surging, and threatening to destabilize the new Taliban administration from its very first days.

Challenges to the Taliban’s power in Afghanistan have not all been internal. In late September, the Taliban announced the formation of an all-male cabinet, made up of prominent Taliban figures, some of whom are designated as terrorists by the United Nations and appear on U.N. and U.S. sanctions lists. After the cabinet announcement and the establishment of their government, Taliban officials started to seek international recognition. However, most of the international community, including the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Iran, and Russia, have so far denied recognition to the Taliban, considering that the group has not met the requirement of establishing an inclusive government, and that the Taliban took over Afghanistan by force in the first place.