Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that Afghanistan would turn into a “pariah state” if the Taliban takes over the country by force. The comments come as the Taliban is making significant gains against the US-backed government.
“An Afghanistan that does not respect the rights of its people, an Afghanistan that commits atrocities against its own people, would become a pariah state,” Blinken said. “The Taliban says that it seeks international recognition … There’s only one path, and that’s at the negotiating table to resolve the conflict peacefully.”
Intra-Afghan talks have been stalling, partially due to the fact that President Biden pushed back the original May 1st withdrawal deadline to September. Since May, the Taliban has been launching major offensives and has no motive to stop until the US troops are gone. Last week, a Taliban spokesman said the group would negotiate a power-sharing government but that they want President Ashraf Ghani to step down.
While the US is warning against a Taliban takeover, regional countries are preparing for the possibility of a Taliban-led government. A Taliban delegation visited China on Wednesday, and a delegation was recently in Russia, trying to ease Moscow’s fears of groups like ISIS gaining a foothold in Afghanistan after the US pullout.
Even the UK, who joined the US in the almost 20-year war in Afghanistan, is ready to engage with the Taliban should they come to power. “Whatever the government of the day is, provided it adheres to certain international norms, the UK government will engage with it,” UK Defense Minister Ben Wallace said last month.