The relationship between the United States and the Taliban group which is becoming more intricate with each passing day has gone through a U-turn. The Taliban, historically labeled as a terrorist group and an enemy of the United States, has now been unofficially elevated to the level of a government by Washington and has gained the status of an ally of the United States, with some describing this group as the “Wagner” of the United States. In the final years of the republic regime, Donald Trump’s government put forward the narrative of “Taliban change” and promoted it in such a way that even some politicians who were against the Taliban in the previous government believed in it, seeking to communicate with this group. The executive director of the project to whitewash the Taliban, Zalmay Khalilzad, was serving as the special representative of the Donald Trump administration for Afghanistan’s reconciliation, signing the Doha agreement between the United States and the Taliban group on behalf of the United States. As per this agreement, the Taliban’s “Jihad” with foreign forces ended and turned to continue against the people of Afghanistan. At that time, Khalilzad spoke in such a way that the non-Taliban parties in Afghanistan’s politics would believe in the change of the Taliban, and on the other hand, the anti-Taliban forces would lose their fighting spirit or at least lose their belief in winning against this group. That situation contributed to the military victory of the Taliban.
Following the overthrow of the Afghan government, the Taliban did not exhibit any change and imposed even the most primitive restrictions on all people, particularly Afghan women. However, the United States, the main supporter of human rights, maintained sending packages of dollars to the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan instead of sanctioning the group. Additionally, it has established informal political relations under the guise of “engagement” with the Taliban. On numerous occasions, the Joe Biden government remarks speeches that are far from reality, but somehow it is considered propaganda for the Taliban. Even Biden once lauded the Taliban’s fight against al-Qaeda, saying: “Do you remember what I said about Afghanistan? I said that al-Qaeda will not be there. I said that they will not be there. I said that we will get help from the Taliban. What happens now? What is up? Read your press. I was right.” Meanwhile, according to the report of the UN Security Council, thousands of al-Qaeda members and their families are being hosted by the Taliban in Afghanistan, with some of them working as advisers in the Taliban interim government. Now, the relations between the Biden administration and the Taliban have turned into a heated political conflict in Washington. Yesterday, the Foreign Relations Committee of the House of Representatives of the United States addressed this issue in a special meeting.
Part of the tensions and disputes over the relations between the Biden administration and the Taliban date back to the 2024 US elections. Knowing this, Republicans want to exert pressure on Biden and use this issue to weaken the opponent. Another part of these conflicts pertains to the future of the region. Some politicians in the US are concerned about the accumulation of terrorist groups in Afghanistan under the rule of the Taliban. They know that the Taliban group shelters and backs at least 20 foreign terrorist groups in the territory of Afghanistan. The Taliban have practically turned Afghanistan into an exhibition of terrorist groups, where al-Qaeda is presented as the enemy of the United States with TTP being presented as the enemy of Pakistan, the US strategic ally. The gathering of these groups along with the Taliban’s support for them will further contribute to the instability of the security situation in the region in the immediate future. This unrest has now spread throughout the US strategic ally Pakistan and will probably spread to Central Asia as well. In that case, the investments carried out by the US in Uzbekistan will be jeopardized. Therefore, in the long run, the unstable region is detrimental to everyone, including America. Part of these conflicts are due to these concerns.
However, these complex relationships directly impact Afghanistan above all. It is now believed that the United States pays a portion of the costs of the prisons where the people of Afghanistan have been imprisoned by the Taliban for the past two years. Over the past two years, the United States has provided more than 11 billion dollars to Afghanistan under the rule of the Taliban. It was clear from the very beginning that these aids were administered by the Taliban and even utilized for the interests and strength of this group’s rule. Hence, suspicions arose about the link between the Taliban and the United States. Another reason for these doubts stems from the confidentiality of agreements between the US and the Taliban. As this part was not shared with the Afghan government, the people of Afghanistan are ignorant about it either.
Yesterday, John Sopko, the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) told the Foreign Relations Committee of the US House of Representatives that the Taliban use a large part of the US aid to Afghanistan for their interests. These interventions include diverting aid from the main path, preparing a list of aid recipients according to the Taliban’s wishes, interfering in the decision-making of donor institutions, and putting pressure on these institutions to recruit relatives of officials of this group. On October 20, SIGAR reported that the Taliban have indirect access to US aid in Afghanistan’s education sector. In early September, the UN Security Council said that the Taliban were interfering in humanitarian activities. In the past two years, the domestic media have extensively reported on the involvement of the Taliban in humanitarian affairs and the diversion of aid in favor of this group. Despite the publication of these reports, the United States has not reconsidered its relationship with the Taliban group. Neither the massive violation of human rights by the Taliban has stopped Washington from “engaging” with the Taliban, nor the interference and diversion of aid and abuse of humanitarian aid from the United States.
Now, the packages of dollars that are injected into the Afghan economy under the control of the Taliban, while saving part of the Afghan people from starvation and death, have also kept the economy of the Taliban regime afloat. The continuation of the Taliban regime is detrimental to the people of Afghanistan. The longer this group lasts, the more people perish of hunger, endure unemployment, and are deprived of their basic human rights. These aids, which meet the needs of the hungry in the short term, help to spread hunger and famine in the long term because they keep the main cause of poverty and hunger (Taliban) alive. Therefore, America’s relationship with the Taliban, just as it created and publicized the narrative of the Taliban’s change and then helped to whitewash this group, now also helps to consolidate the regime of this group. This “interaction” will perpetuate hunger and poverty in Afghanistan and make human rights violations more severe.