Eighteen months ago, the Taliban began to exercise control over Afghanistan, yet they remain unrecognized by any country. In violation of UN Security Council resolutions and the Doha Agreement with the United States, which stipulated the establishment of an inclusive government, the start of intra-Afghan negotiations, and respect for human rights, the Taliban have denied women their human rights and failed to protect citizens’ fundamental rights. Furthermore, they have not adhered to the international treaties and regulations to which Afghanistan has consented. The Taliban have sought to take control of Afghanistan’s diplomatic missions and be recognized as an official government by the international community, and Iran’s recent appointment of a Taliban representative as the head of the Afghan embassy in Tehran has caused outrage among political parties and Afghans. Those who oppose the Taliban believe that the Taliban is not an official representative of the legitimate government and has made Afghanistan a safe haven for terrorists.
According to a recent announcement from Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a Taliban representative has been appointed as the head of the Afghan embassy in Tehran. This is supported by a letter from the Taliban Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Afghan Embassy’s address in Tehran, which states that Fazl Mohammad Haqqani will be in charge of the embassy’s affairs from Friday, February 24. Additionally, a reliable source has informed Hasht-e-Subh that Iran transferred control of the embassy to a Taliban envoy on Saturday, February 25. Nasser Kanaani, a spokeswoman for the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, then clarified that the transfer of the Afghan embassy to the Taliban “does not signify a change in the legal authority of the embassy.”
Opposition Fronts Condemn Taliban Actions
On Thursday, February 23, the Supreme Council of Resistance for the Salvation of Afghanistan released a statement declaring that it would be against diplomatic protocol and contrary to the country’s best interests to hand over the Afghan embassy to the Taliban. The council has urged Iran to reconsider its decision, noting that “this approach honors the demands for the rights of the people of Afghanistan and the democratic national political current flow”. Furthermore, the Supreme Council of Resistance has urged other countries not to turn over their embassies to the Taliban in accordance with diplomatic norms and international convention.
Taliban Gaining Control of Embassies: Is It Extortion or Another Illegal Act?
International law experts view Iran’s actions, as well as those of other countries that have accepted Taliban representatives as their ambassadors, as contravening the principles and norms of the international order. They contend that ambassadors are representatives of the political order based on the sovereignty of the host country’s citizens and that diplomatic officials are the legitimate representatives of that country’s sovereignty.
During a discussion with Hasht-e-Subh, an expert in international affairs, Ahmad Modasser asserted that, in accordance with the principles of international law, host countries can accept diplomatic representatives provided they adhere to international treaties and conventions. Mr. Modasser further stated that the Taliban have no legal authority to take control of the Afghan embassies, and the countries of the region should not violate international law as the Taliban pose a direct danger to the world due to their provision of a safe haven for terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
Experts and journalists have suggested that countries which recognize the Taliban have active embassies in Afghanistan, implying that the recognition of the Taliban is part of a bilateral relationship.
During his discussion with Hasht-e-Subh regarding the Taliban assuming the role of the Afghan embassy in Tehran, Ferdaws Kawish, one of Afghanistan’s most renowned journalists, stated that “the Iranian embassy is operational in Kabul, with its consulates in the provinces, and in exchange, it has handed over the embassy to the Taliban representative. Embassies from China, Pakistan, Turkey, and Russia are also active in Kabul.”
A former diplomat, who wishes to remain anonymous, has claimed that countries with embassies in Kabul are paying the Taliban “extortion money” in order for them to achieve their objectives in Afghanistan. This diplomat has warned that the Taliban will continue to pressure other countries to follow suit. He has argued that the countries that have accepted the Taliban’s officials are aware of the Taliban’s “destructive rule” and that terrorist organizations that oppose them in Afghanistan are “safe and content” under Taliban control, allowing them to continue their attacks. Therefore, it is imperative that the international community closely monitor the current situation in Afghanistan.
Some Afghan citizens have argued that the Taliban’s control of Afghan embassies is in violation of international law and widely accepted principles. They have also urged the countries surrounding Afghanistan to not grant legal recognition within the international system to groups that pose a threat to the entire continent. These Afghans have argued that the Taliban do not represent Afghanistan and lack both national and international legitimacy. Furthermore, they have asserted that embassies should represent the legitimate, legal, and diplomatic interests of the Afghans and should not be left in the hands of a “terrorist” group that has been responsible for the deaths of Afghans and the destruction of state buildings for the past 20 years.
Abdullah, an Afghan citizen who has already left the country, asked Hasht-e-Subh: “If the Taliban are respected and the citizens are content with them, why are so many Afghans trying to leave the country? Eventually, all those countries will come to understand their error in allowing thousands of terrorists to travel to their destination of choice.”
Jalala Nasseri has worked as a teacher in Afghanistan for many years and has expressed her shock at the Taliban’s behaviour. She has experienced a few accidents, but has noted that the majority of them respected women and did not confine them to the home, unlike the Taliban. Even the radical early Mujahideen did not compare to the Taliban. She has questioned how the Taliban can claim to speak for the people overseas when they have closed off so much to Afghans, calling it ‘peculiar’.
Additionally, Mohammadullah Badakhsh perceives Iran’s action as “The mullahs revealed that they are nourished by the same water, yet they are unaware that they are parched for their own blood.” Badakhsh further states: “Those who safeguarded the lives of their diplomats are expecting the Taliban to give them water, however Afghanistan is devoid of water to provide Iran. It is an inexcusable torment to hand over the embassy to the Taliban.”
The continued operation of Afghan diplomatic posts has been a highly contentious issue in international and political circles since the collapse of the republican system on August 15, 2021. The Taliban have demanded government recognition in order to gain legitimacy and control of Afghanistan’s diplomatic offices, but no country has yet recognized them.
Despite this, Russia, China, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Qatar, and Iran have all allowed Taliban representatives to be present in their embassies in Afghanistan. A number of these countries maintained their embassies in Afghanistan even after the Taliban took control.
Currently, there are approximately 65 diplomatic embassies of Afghanistan located abroad, which are in contact with the administrative and consular divisions of the Taliban Foreign Ministry. However, some anonymous diplomats have stated: “We are in contact with our colleagues since the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is our agency. The ministry carries out important administrative duties, but we do not report our political and financial activities to the Taliban. We do not act as representatives of the Taliban in the embassies; we are working for the people. We strongly urge those countries not to overlook the Afghan people while there is discussion.”
UN Security Council Passes Resolutions on Taliban
Since the Taliban’s inception, the United Nations Security Council has issued numerous resolutions condemning the group and demanding that all UN members comply with them. The United Nations has unequivocally declared the Taliban to be a terrorist organization in its resolutions (1707, 1776, 1817, and 2189). According to UN Security Council resolution 2010, the Taliban have allegedly employed Chechen, Arab, and other terrorist groups in the Afghan war.
According to United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1267, 1456, 2593 and 2596, the Taliban have enabled the financing of terrorism, encouraged its proliferation and trafficked in drugs. Additionally, these resolutions state that the Taliban have violated women‘s rights and impeded the formation of an inclusive government.
The treatment of women by the Taliban has been widely condemned, and Josep Borrell, a representative of the European Union‘s foreign policy, has declared that the EU will not accept the “gender apartheid“ that this group has imposed in Afghanistan. Prior to this, several countries, including Saudi Arabia, have shut down their embassies in Kabul due to security concerns. Since the Taliban assumed power, suicide bombers have attacked the Pakistani and Russian embassies in Kabul, and a number of attacks in Kabul have been aimed at Chinese nationals. Furthermore, Tomas Niklasson, the special representative of the EU for Afghanistan, has previously stated that Afghanistan has become a refuge for many international terrorist and extremist groups.