Aftermath: On Afghanistan under the Taliban

Only the threat of global backlash can stop the Taliban from inflicting harm on Afghan society

Given that the project of long-term military occupation and regime change has amounted to naught in this country, going forward, the only lever that G7 might have to press for internal change in Afghanistan is foreign aid and, should the circumstances warrant it, sanctions. Indeed, the May 2021 communiqué noted that “Current and future support to the Afghan government relies on the adherence to the principles set out in the Afghanistan Partnership Framework and progress towards the outcomes in the Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework II as decided upon at the November 2020 Geneva donors’ conference”. Yet, if there is one signal that the conditional norms elucidated by the G7 will be brazenly disregarded by the Taliban it is that they have already been disregarded to the extent that the Islamist group has been linked to numerous attacks on civilians, including targeted campaigns against women in public life, human rights activists, and media persons. This means calls for eschewing violence and allowing unhindered access to humanitarian aid may fall on deaf ears unless there is a punitive element that lends teeth to such demands. If the Taliban have distilled past strategic learnings, it might hold out hope that this time around, they will limit the damage they inflict on the fabric of mainstream Afghan society, if nothing for fear that the backlash that it will bring from the global community will once again break their grip on power.

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