The chances of lifting sanctions against Taliban

Written by The Frontier Post

Alexey Poplavsky

20 years ago, the UN Security Council imposed sanctions on the terrorist group “Taliban”. This decision coincided with the fall of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, but in 2021 the organization again managed to take control of the country. Now the Taliban are trying to convince the world community that they have changed and are counting on recognition, which is impossible with UN sanctions. However, experts are sure that the lifting of restrictions, as well as a real “correction” of the Taliban, is unlikely.
On January 16, 2002, the UN Security Council voted unanimously to impose sanctions on Al-Qaeda (an organization banned in Russia) and the Taliban (an organization banned in Russia). Security Council restrictions included the immediate freezing of any economic resources of persons included in the list of members of these organizations, the imposition of a ban on their entry or transit through UN states, as well as an embargo on the supply of movements of any type of weapons.
This decision of the UN Security Council led to the actual banning of the Tali-ban and Al-Qaeda in key world states, although officially the Taliban became a banned group in 2003 – Al-Qaeda received the corresponding status back in 1999. By the way, the Taliban actively cooperated with the Osama bin Laden group, and Al-Qaeda was based in Afghanistan just during the rule of the Taliban regime.
Soon after the decision of the UN Security Council, the Taliban lost control over Afghanistan, this was facilitated by the international intervention on the territory of the state, which became the response of the world community to the terrorist attacks in New York on September 11, 2001. Subsequently, a conditionally pro-Western government was created in the country, which managed to control the situation in the country with the help of NATO forces .
The United States and other states began to wind down the large-scale Afghan campaign only in the summer of 2021, organized the withdrawal of troops and transferred all key military facilities under the control of democratic authorities. It was in the midst of the withdrawal of foreign military from Afghanistan that the Taliban recaptured the state in a short time and took the capital of the republic without a fight.
After regaining control of Afghanistan, the Taliban formed an interim government and began trying to convince the international community that the organization itself had changed and that the lives of Afgh-ans were not in danger.
Moreover, the Taliban declared their readiness to make the necessary chan-ges to legitimize their position.
Prospects for the Taliban
The desire of the Taliban to achieve recognition in the world has a very obvious basis.
The capture of the country allowed the movement to get weapons, military equipment and infrastructure, but did not give access to economic resources – financial interaction with the movement was blocked by UN sanctions, and the assets of the previous government were frozen by the United States.
The Taliban claim that under such conditions they do not have the opportunity to move on to the restoration of the state, which is experiencing a humanitarian catastrophe, therefore they are asking for support and concessions. However, the world community is in no hurry to recognize the power of the Taliban. And although Moscow and Beijing consider it necessary to unfreeze the assets of the former authorities, no one is going to remove the main restrictions on traffic until a number of key conditions are met.
Thus, the United States, the European Union , Russia and other states make the following demands on the Taliban: create an inclusive government, ensure equality (that is, women’s access to education, politics and business) and guarantees to combat other terrorist groups in the country in order to prevent the transformation of Afghanistan into a base for terrorists.
A number of Western states also impose some additional conditions on the Taliban, including calling for an amnesty for Afghans associated with the past government and the NATO mission, as well as ensuring that the rights of various minorities within the state are respected.
Almost half a year after the transition of the country under the control of the Taliban, in fact, none of the conditions of the world community can be called fulfilled.
The interim government is not recognized as inclusive as it is predominantly composed of Pashtuns. In addition, women’s rights are in question – the education of girls has been banned in many provinces, there are no women in the new cabinet, and programs with the participation of women can no longer be shown on television.
As for the fight against terrorists in Afghanistan, since the transfer of power to the Taliban, many radicals have arrived in the country, including from the Islamic State (an organization banned in Russia). According to media reports, the Taliban regularly engage in skirmishes with militants, but it is not known whether they can really prevent the terrorists from basing in the country.
Should we wait for the sanctions to be lifted?
Until the Taliban begins to comply with the demands of the world community, we can hardly expect the lifting of restrictions against the organization, experts interviewed by Gazeta.Ru believe. This is especially true of restrictions under the auspices of the UN Security Council. In particular, the former Russian ambassador to Afghanistan, Mikhail Kon-arovsky, speaks about this.
“So far they do not fulfill the conditions, remaining a kind of organization in which leading figures are under direct sanctions and are on the international wanted list, including by the United States. Until the conditions set by the international community are met, there is no need to lift sanctions from the Taliban – this is the most important factor in the influence of external forces on the conduct of a balanced domestic policy by the Taliban. The prospects for lifting restrictions will depend on the sp-ecific situation in Afgha-nistan and the actions of the Taliban government,” Kon-arovsky told Gazeta.Ru.
He also recalled that the issue of recognizing the Taliban is directly linked to the UN sanctions against the movement, since without their cancellation it is unlikely that anyone will take such a step –
“Neighboring countries, including Pakistan, may have plans, but this is only their wishful thinking, masquerading as reality.”
The former Deputy Secr-etary General of the UN, e-x-Deputy Minister of Fo-reign Affairs of Russia Sergei Ordzhonikidze agre-es with this . According to him, the very process of lif-ting sanctions through the UN Security Council is ve-ry simple, but this can hardly be expected in the near future.
“If the UN Security Council decides to lift sanctions, then the usual mechanism of the Security Coun-cil will be used for this. Someone raises the issue and submits the corresponding draft resolution, which provides some arguments for the lifting of restrictions. If the countries have the political will, then the UN Security Council will make any decision – both imposed sanctions and lifted them. But it is unlikely that the lifting of sanctions against the Taliban will ha-ppen quickly. This should be the decision of all five p-ermanent members of the Security Council, since su-ch a resolution may fall un-der the veto of one of the states. Most likely, the United States will not agree to lift sanctions, even if someone proposes it, and we (Russia) are not yet ready for this, ”the expert noted.
In turn, Andrey Chuprygin , senior lecturer at the HSE School of Oriental Studies , believes that the sanctions against the Taliban will not be lifted, as the international community continues to perceive them as terrorists.
“Whatever statements government leaders make, trying not to aggravate the situation, at the heart of the political process, everyone understands perfectly well that the Taliban are terrorists, and no one will talk to terrorists. The world community, in order to reconsider its view of the Taliban, for example, needs to eliminate gender inequality in the state. Or the Taliban should stop persecuting journalists, exercise freedom of the press and freedom of religion,” the expert explained.
From Chuprygin’s point of view, it is actually unrealistic to fulfill the required conditions for the Taliban, since the movement proclaims Sharia both in the public and state life of Afghanistan. “If they refuse it, in fact, it will no longer be the Taliban. If they make the necessary changes, they will have to change their n-ame to some national party of Afghanistan. That is, in order to change the view of the international community, the Taliban need to aba-ndon the idea of Shariatiz-ation of Afghanistan, thereby losing their essence,” the expert concluded.

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