Group of experts overwhelmingly disagrees with the US normalising relations with the Taliban

A group of foreign policy experts, journalists, and former US and Afghan government officials, brought together by the Foreign Affairs magazine, overwhelmingly disagreed with the proposition that the US should normalize relations with the Taliban.

The group of 48 men and women, which included the former commander of US forces in Afghanistan, John R. Allen, the former US ambassador to Afghanistan, James Cunningham, Shaharzad Akbar, the former head of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, and Adela Raz, the former Afghan ambassador to the US, expressed their views on the proposition using a scale of agree to strongly disagree.

Of the group, Only agree with the proposition, and 2 strongly agree, 6 remain neutral and majority of the rest strongly disagree.

John R. Allen strongly disagreed with the proposition, giving it a 10 out of 10 confidence level. He said that the US should not normalize relations with the Taliban “under any circumstances” and that the group has created “a secure platform for a number of terror groups that are a threat not only to the United States and its allies but also to Pakistan and India”.

Shaharzad Akbar also strongly disagreed with the proposition, giving it a 10 out of 10 confidence level.

Jennifer Brick Murtazashvili, Professor of International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh, stated her position as neutral, giving it a 10 out of 10 confidence level. She said that “President Joe Biden has shown disdain for Afghanistan, and his administration’s disastrous withdrawal damaged U.S. credibility.” Considering the positions of regional countries, she called for “creative” thinking in the US’s approach to the Taliban.

Author and Journalist, Kathy Gannon, advocated normalization, but not full diplomatic relations. She said that she would like to see the US open its embassy in Kabul with the aim of finding “an innovative partial diplomatic relationship and engage with the Taliban and Afghans beyond the Kabul elite and expat Afghans.”

Robert D. Crews, Professor of History at Stanford University, strongly disagreed with the proposition, giving it an 8 out of 10 confidence level. He said that “Normalizing relations with the Taliban would bring no benefit to the United States or to Afghan society.”

Adela Raz also strongly disagreed with the proposition, giving it a 10 out of 10 confidence level. She reasoned that “For the United States, a country that leads the free world and upholds the principles of democracy and human rights, the prospect of normalizing relations with the Taliban raises significant concerns. The Taliban and their Haqqani network are listed as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs), and the Haqqani network is a recognized Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO).” She added that “Embracing the Taliban would inadvertently legitimize their actions, including their numerous violations, and potentially undermine the designations of SDGT and FTO.”

Jacqueline L. Hazelton, Executive Editor of the International Security Journal at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center, strongly advocates with confidence level 10, that the US should give the Taliban full recognition. “The only reason for the United States to continue to shun the Taliban government of Afghanistan is self-righteousness. Governments interact with unpleasant counterparts all the time. It is called diplomacy. The United States itself works, has worked, and will work closely with odious regimes. Recognizing the Taliban would remove serious impediments to U.S. help for the people of Afghanistan.” She said.

Over two years since the group’s seizure of power, no country has recognized the group’s rule. But some regional countries, including Iran, Pakistan, China, and Russia, have handed Afghanistan’s embassy to the group and have maintained full diplomatic presence in Kabul.