To me the issue is not about recognising the Taliban or whether it has indeed changed but the fact that ordinary Afghans are badly in need of assistance in order to survive. Whether one likes it or not, the Taliban is in power and one of the prerequsites of getting aid into the country is to have a level of dialogue with the Talibs.
1. The latest aid talks are about getting former British interpreters out of Afghanistan; not about starving Afghans — aka peanuts for the Taliban monkeys — who released ISK prisoners, who are now conducting attacks in Afghanistan. Helping the UN address immediate starvation concerns is a priority but beyond that, it’s up to the Taliban to solve. With U.S. and UK troops withdrawn from the country and the Taliban now governing, ISK is waging a guerilla campaign against the Taliban.
- ISK sees the Taliban as an existential threat and as such, will stop at nothing to undermine the legitimacy of their new government.
- Another part of ISK’s strategy may be an attempt to lure Taliban fighters to break away from the organization and join the Islamic State’s ranks.
- The Taliban was unquestionably an effective insurgent force, but now the group is facing a different role—that of counterinsurgent—and is struggling to prevent asymmetric and irregular attacks from ISK.
2. Meanwhile, the Taliban are busy killing innocent Hazara. In recent days since the group took power last month, reports of abusive treatment by Taliban fighters in Kabul and reprisals against members of the former government and military and civil society activists emerged despite promises of amnesty by the Taliban, raising alarm that Afghanistan's new rulers might be facing problems in controlling forces on the ground. Even the appropriate agency to help Afghanistan, the UN, would find the behaviour of the Taliban problematic. More importantly, without a mandate for UN troop deployment in Afghanistan — Afghans will starve. IMO, starving Afghanistan is a Taliban choice. There are plenty of starving people in the world. If the British are not stupid, they need to focus their aid efforts.
3. There is 300-strong UK Task Group deployed to Mali in December 2020 to support the UN mission, which is made up of over 13,000 peacekeepers from 56 different countries and works to support peace efforts, encourage security sector reform, protect civilians and promote human rights. If the British have too much aid money, give it to Mali, to help their troops restore order. They can make a real difference there as the French are in the middle of a huge disagreement with Col Assimi Goïta. Goïta has seized power in Mali, detaining transitional President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane after accusing them of failing in their duties and trying to sabotage the West African state's transition to democracy.
4. Between 18 Sep 2021 and 4 Oct 2021, ISK claimed 28 separate attacks, including a bombing in Kabul earlier this week targeting the funeral of the mother of the Taliban’s chief spokesperson. The attack occurred at the entrance of the Eid Gah Mosque in Kabul. In its propaganda and media, ISK continuously derides the Taliban as “apostates” and mocks its members as puppets of the Americans. If the Taliban is unable to establish a monopoly on the use of violence within Afghanistan’s borders, groups like ISK will have the opportunity to resurge and regenerate its networks. To combat ISK, the Taliban is going to rely on the Haqqani network, al-Qaeda, and other violent non-state actors for manpower, combat expertise, and logistical support.
5. Indeed, ISK is merely taking a page from the Taliban playbook. Over the past two decades, the Taliban and its Haqqani network and al-Qaeda allies, often through the Kabul Attack Network, repeatedly attacked Afghan government officials, Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), and U.S. and coalition soldiers in order to demonstrate to Afghan civilians that the government in Kabul was weak and ineffective. Now, through relentless and highly lethal attacks, ISK is demonstrating to the Afghan people how the Taliban, like the ANSF before, are unable to protect the population.
6. There are reports that the Taliban has provided Tajik militants based in northern Afghanistan with new military vehicles, weaponry, and other equipment over the past two weeks, security sources in Tajikistan and Afghanistan say.
7. Starving Afghans and ISK attacks on the Taliban affect Pakistan, China, Tajikistan and Iran far more than anyone else — and not the UK. China says it’s the new number 1, so they should do the heavy lifting. Pakistan’s ISI has installed their guy in the centre of Taliban power — so I say good luck to them. Because of the poor infrastructure and security problems blocking mineral extraction, Afghanistan has mostly downsides for China and precious few upsides. At a minimum, China will need to send more economic aid to Afghanistan through Pakistan; at worst they'll see extremists infiltrate Xinjiang from Afghanistan.