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US Policy Toward the Taliban Opponents

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The longest-running war in the United States (US) history has been the US intervention in Afghanistan. After twenty years of invasion, the US chose to reconcile with the Taliban and withdraw its troops instead of dwelling on the situation in Afghanistan, thinking that it could not vanquish the Taliban. In this regard, Washington signed the Doha Agreement with the Taliban on 29 February 2020. According to the treaty, the US would withdraw from Afghanistan, whereas the Taliban has pledged not to allow Afghanistan to be used against the US and its allies. Later, as a result of the negotiations between Afghans, the establishment of the “New Islamic State” was envisaged, and it was decided that the US would respect the sovereignty of Afghanistan. Furthermore, the Washington administration declared that it would not interfere in Afghanistan’s internal affairs and would support the newly formed government.

Although the US withdrew its troops from Afghanistan within the scope of the Doha Agreement, it did not abide by the remaining part of the treaty. Moreover, the Taliban refused to initiate negotiations with the Afghan government and asked it to surrender power peacefully. According to the Taliban, what is meant by the Islamic State is the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.” When the US announced that it would withdraw completely without waiting for the outcome of the intra-Afghan talks, the Taliban swung into action with full force. Thus, the Taliban overthrew the republican regime established with the support of the West and planted its flag once again in the Presidential Palace of Afghanistan.

While the Taliban was ruling again in Afghanistan, the authorities of the overthrown regime either went abroad or went to Panjshir to establish the anti-Taliban “Panjshir Movement.” After the Panjshir Movement and the Taliban failed to reconcile, the Taliban seized Panjshir by force. In this process, the Taliban declared that it remained loyal to the general amnesty it had declared and called on its opponents abroad to return to the country by establishing a “Return Commission.” Although some officials of the overthrown regime returned to Kabul, leading officials publicly announced their plans for the future of Afghanistan and the requirements of reconciling with the Taliban by establishing new political structures.

The Panjshir Movement, one of the opposition movements against the Taliban, emphasizes the military option whereas the “High Resistance Council to Save Afghanistan.” consisting of former Northern Alliance leaders, emphasizes the political and military administration. Lastly, the “Afghanistan National Peace and Justice Movement” was established under the leadership of the overthrown regime’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammad Haneef Atmar. This movement explained that the Afghan Conflict could not be solved by military means and that peace could be established only by political methods. In this context, this movement demanded that the Taliban initiate intra-Afghan talks within the scope of the Doha Agreement and that the international community, especially the US, support this process.[1]

Although the US has withdrawn from Afghanistan, it prevents any state or international organization from recognizing the Taliban government by claiming that the Taliban seized power by force, violating the Doha Agreement.

Furthermore, Washington has blocked Afghanistan’s national reserves and put pressure on the Taliban. The US maintains unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in Afghanistan airspace under the name of counter-terrorism and attacks various targets. In a recent incident, the US killed Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of the Al-Qaeda terrorist organization, in Kabul.

While the Washington administration puts pressure on the Taliban, it also forms relations with it, preventing further weakening of the organization. In this context, the US gave the green light to the international community to send dollars to Afghanistan, under the guise of humanitarian aid, and to print the Afghan banknotes that the Taliban needed the most.[2] This approach of the Washington administration enabled the Afghan currency to maintain its value against foreign currencies.

The US, on the one hand, announces that it will not support armed opponents, and on the other hand, it calls on the opponents of the Taliban to unite their goals. In a speech, the US Special Representative to Afghanistan Tom West stated that his country will not support the Taliban’s armed opponents and that other states should not support it either.[3]

As it is known, the US first suspended its talks with the Taliban after the killing of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, later on, the Head of Intelligence of the Taliban and the US Vice President for Intelligence met in Doha. Speaking to Al-Jazeera after the meeting in Doha, a Taliban official stated that the US promised that it would not support the Taliban’s armed opponents.[4]

The US Special Representative for Afghanistan goes to different states to meet with Taliban opponents abroad and holds talks with women representatives and other opponents. In this context, it was seen that Tom West held talks with Taliban opponents in Dushanbe, Tashkent, New Delhi, Doha, and other capitals.

On the occasion of these meetings, West learned about the views of Taliban opponents regarding the future of Afghanistan. West asked the opponents of the Taliban to determine their demands in line with the requirements of the international community and give up the military option.[5]

In addition, the US also held talks with Afghan politicians who stayed in Afghanistan. In this regard, it is revealed that West talked with Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, the President of the High Council for National Reconciliation of the overthrown regime, on the phone from time to time. In his last meeting with Karzai, West emphasized that the opening of the schools for girls is important and that national negotiations should be initiated to determine the future of Afghanistan.[6]

The Washington administration also develops relations with states that have an impact on the parties addressed by the policy of reconciling the Taliban and its opponents. In this context, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan met with the government officials of Tajikistan. In the statement made following this meeting, it was stated that Washington and Dushanbe would support the initiation of a legitimate political process in Afghanistan in which all parties would participate.[7] Moreover, the US has recently developed relations with Pakistan, which has a significant influence on the Taliban. Islamabad also states that the Taliban should take steps in line with the requirements of the international community.

Although the US meets with all kinds of opponents of the Taliban, it pays significant attention to the ideas of the opponents who emphasize the political method against the Taliban and asks them to voice their demands under the Doha Agreement. All opponents of the Taliban base their requests on the Doha Agreement and demand that the Taliban allow the establishment of a pluralist, respectful of human rights and anti-terrorist government, which are the requirements of the Afghan people and the international community, and that the future of the country is determined by the initiation of actual intra-Afghan negotiations.

As a result, the US is in search of reconciling the Taliban and its opponents. It can be said that the goal of the Washington administration here is to reinforce its hegemony based on the image of “the actor who builds peace” by restoring the prestige and trust it has lost.


[1] “Statute of the Afghanistan National Movement for Peace and Justice”, https://drive.google.com/file/d/1HXI976FGUAEwnwk5_djKpiPMvikg46Mb/view, (Date of Accession: 28.10.2022).

[2] “طالبان و نماینده امریکا از چاپ بانک[نوتve]های تازه افغانی خبر دادند ”, Afintl, https://www.afintl.com/202210226984, (Date of Accession: 28.10.2022).

[3] “مقاومت آمادگی می[گیرد؛ امریکا گفت از مخالفان مسلح طالبان حمایت نمیveکند]وضعیت در واقعیت چگونه است؟”, Sputnik, https://l24.im/JD8, (Date of Accession: 28.10.2022).

[4] “Accessedطالبان آمریکا به نیروهای مسلح ضد حکومت افغانستان کمک مالی نمی:کند”, IRNA, https://l24.im/9muit, (Date of Accession: 28.10.2022).

[5] “نماینده آمریکا با سران جبهه ضد طالبان در ترکیه دیدار کرد”, Pars Today, https://parstoday.com/dari/news/afghanistan-i176350, (Date of Accession: 28.10.2022).

[6] “گفت‌وگوی ویست و کرزی؛ تأکید بر نیاز فوری به گفتمان ملی واقعی در افغانستان”, 8am, https://8am.media/the-conversation-between-wist-and-karzai-emphasizing-the-urgent-need-for-a-real-national-discourse-in-afghanistan/, (Date of Accession: 28.10.2022).

[7] “نماینده امریکا از «همکاری نزدیک»با تاجیکستان در مورد افغانستان خبر داد, Afintl, https://www.afintl.com/202206035965, (Date of Accession: 28.10.2022).

Ahmad Khan DAWLATYAR
Ahmad Khan Dawlatyar, 2013 yılında Kunduz Üniversitesi Hukuk ve Siyaset Bilimi Bölümü’nden mezun olmuştur. Yüksek lisans derecesini Ankara Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Siyaset Bilimi Anabilim Dalı’nda “Türkiye Cumhuriyeti ve Afganistan İslam Cumhuriyeti Anayasalarında Güçler Ayrılığı İlkesi Üzerine Karşılaştırmalı Bir Analiz” başlıklı teziyle 2019 yılında almıştır. Çeşitli bilimsel etkinliklere katılan Dawlatyar, Afganistan sorunuyla ilgili bildiriler ve makaleler sunmuştur. Bu kapsamda “Afganistan Sorununun Dini ve İdeolojik Nedenleri” başlıklı sunumu yayınlanmıştır. Halihazırda Ankara Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı’nda doktora eğitimine devam etmektedir. ANKASAM bünyesinde yürütülen çalışmalara katkıda bulunan Ahmad Khan Dawlatyar’ın başlıca çalışma alanları Afganistan ve Pakistan’dır. Dawlatyar, anadil seviyesinde Farsça, Özbekçe, Türkçe ve Peştunca dillerine hakimdir. Ayrıca orta düzeyde İngilizce bilmektedir.