Afghanistan: Talking to the Taliban – but how?

Status: 09.09.2021 5:17 p.m.

After the disaster in Afghanistan, a discussion is going on in Berlin about how to deal with the Taliban. Especially now that the extremists are taking a tougher course against women and journalists.

By Kai Küstner, ARD capital studio

So now they are piling up: the signs that the Taliban are increasingly showing their true, ugly face. For the time being, the extremists are banning unannounced demonstrations. Journalists are prohibited from reporting on protests.

The West should not be deceived by the Taliban, warns an activist from the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif: “The difference between the Taliban today and those from 20 years ago: They know how to lie,” reports the woman Name should remain anonymous for security reasons. “It is the same extremists as they were then who cannot accept women in public spaces.”

Doubts about the moderate course of the Taliban

Oliver Mayer, ARD New Delhi, daily news 5:00 p.m., 9.9.2021

Intimidation, threats, physical violence

The Berlin organization Yaar had switched on various activists from Afghanistan via video so that they could tell German journalists about their experiences. The stories from northern Afghanistan largely coincide with those from the capital: At first the Taliban seemed to be puzzling how to deal with the protests, but women and journalists are now increasingly reporting on intimidation, threats and physical violence.

The question that is so delicate for the West, for the Federal Government, is: How should one deal with the extremists? How to talk to them Because it is clear that you talk to them: “I think this language is too soft,” complains the green foreign policy expert Omid Nouripour.

Promising the Taliban development aid money, as the German government is doing, is the wrong way, Nouripour said in a joint effort Morning magazine from ARD and ZDF. Humanitarian aid paid directly to the United Nations is correct: “This is different from development cooperation. The Taliban have no interest in Afghanistan’s development, they want to throw the country back into the Stone Age.”

Lure with foreign aid money

Now the German government’s tools for influencing the Taliban have been extremely blunt since the withdrawal of the Bundeswehr. One of the most effective means is seen in the Foreign Office to be lured with development funds, which the Taliban urgently needed to administer the country. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas emphasized that if such funds were to flow in the future, clear conditions had to be set daily topics:

Compliance with basic human rights, especially women’s rights; unhindered access for humanitarian aid; the legal departure of Afghan citizens and, above all, that Afghanistan does not become a new refuge for terrorist organizations.

Only in the coming weeks will we see, according to Maas, in which direction things are developing and whether we can even get back into development cooperation.

How to stay in conversation – without recognizing the regime?

It is clear that we are currently talking to the Taliban because around 40,000 local workers and their families have been left behind in the country and up to 10,000 more people in need of protection are planning to leave the country. The tricky, long-term question is how to keep talking to the extremists without recognizing their regime at the same time. AfD leader Tino Chrupalla has a simple answer to this question: The top candidate believes that the German embassy in Kabul should be opened and the Taliban government recognized in order to be able to deport immigrants who are required to leave the country to Afghanistan.

An official recognition of the Taliban, whose cabinet includes the religious hardliner and Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is wanted by the FBI with a bounty – the women’s rights activists in Afghanistan are likely to see this as treason.

Talking to the Taliban – but how?

Kai Küstner, ARD Berlin, 9.9.2021 4:06 p.m.

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