The Fall of Afghanistan
On 15th August 2021, the Taliban militia group completed its shockingly rapid takeover of Afghanistan by capturing Kabul. Notably, this came few weeks after the U.S. withdrew its troops from Afghanistan following the Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan, also known as the Doha Agreement, signed by the U.S. government and the Taliban. The agreement entailed a timeline for the withdrawal of all foreign military forces from Afghanistan. In return, the Taliban promised not to use the Afghanistan soil by any individual or group in a manner that threatens the security of the U.S. and its allies (Cambridge University Press, 2020).
The fall of the Afghan government and the return of the Taliban to power after 20 years has left many countries, especially neighboring nations, scrambling to unravel how they will adjust to the shifting geopolitical outlook. This research paper seeks to examine how the recent fall of Afghanistan is affecting and will the world. Besides changing the geopolitical landscape, the fall of Afghanistan will impact international relations and influence nations to re-evaluate their geopolitical strategies.
How the Fall of Afghanistan Impacts International Relations
The significant short-term impact of the Taliban takeover is in the geopolitical flux. The world has to figure out how to adjust to the emerging Taliban regime in Afghanistan. The neighboring nations are concerned about political instability. They are also worried about the probable refugee inflows that will accompany the instability. Afghanistan has seen many citizens try to leave the country as they fear that the Taliban will establish a repressive government. Moreover, the world is concerned that Afghanistan will become a haven for terrorist activities (Tanya & Coleman, 2021). The Taliban promised to form an inclusive and non-repressive government. However, judging from the interim government formed by the Taliban group, they are not willing to honor their promises. The new cabinet contains no women, opposition members, or individuals from minority ethnic or religious groups (Aydıntaşbaş et al., 2021). This indicates that the Taliban-led government is most likely to relapse to its old ways characterized by terrorism. Thus, the neighboring nations are right to be concerned about the possibility of increased terrorism following the Taliban takeover.
It is worth noting that the Taliban takeover will impact different nations differently. For instance, in the past decades, Pakistan has held significant leverage and influence over the Taliban group. According to Threlkeld and Easterly (2021), Pakistan is one of the few nations that recognized the Taliban as a legitimate government when they were last in power two decades ago. Based on this longstanding relation, whereas Pakistan may be on high alert over potential violence on its borders, it is likely to continue working with the Taliban-formed government. Additionally, Pakistan is likely to view the fall of the Afghanistan government as a positive outcome since the takeover can prove to be a significant setback for India, Pakistan’s arch-rival (Threlkeld & Easterly, 2021). Thus, the Taliban takeover can have a positive impact on Afghanistan-Pakistan relations.
On the other hand, whereas India has had a stable relationship with the Afghanistan government, the Taliban takeover may prove detrimental to India-Afghanistan relations. For the past two decades, India has been providing Afghanistan with development assistance to improve its relationship with the country. However, judging from history, the Taliban has been an anti-India organization (Chaudhuri & Shende, 2020). According to Harpviken (2021), when the Taliban was last in power, India made several diplomatic attempts to improve its relationship with the group, but the Taliban shuttered the efforts. The Taliban takeover is likely to fuel the India-Pakistan feud as Pakistan may use the opportunity to attack India. Thus, the Taliban takeover is likely to fuel the India-Pakistan conflict.
The Taliban takeover is also likely to benefit China. Notably, while countries such as India and the U.S. have been rushing to evacuate their citizens and diplomats from Afghanistan, China has decided to keep its Kabul embassy open. Through its foreign ministry’s spokesperson, the Chinese government said that it expects a smooth transition of power. Given the current relationship between China and the U.S., China holds a strong position for cultivating diplomatic relations with Taliban led government. China will mainly seek cooperation to create a secure environment for advancing its infrastructure projects (Hass, 2021). Therefore, the Taliban takeover is likely to improve the China-Afghanistan relationship.
Other countries such as the U.S., Russia, France, the UK, Germany, and Italy, among other world nations, may fail to recognize the Taliban group as the legitimate authority in Afghanistan. Many countries have a good reason to be concerned that the return of the Taliban to power threatens global security. Considering that the group comprises individuals with radical views regarding issues such as religion, human rights, and gender equality (Tanya & Coleman, 2021). If the group is unwilling to change its position on these issues, instability is likely to be experienced in many countries, especially Europe. However, if the Taliban is committed to embracing foreign policy emphasizing inclusion, neutrality, and non-interference, then global powers will, in time, form diplomatic relations with Afghanistan. However, world powers are likely to avoid any relations with Afghanistan in the short term and may even implement sanctions to prevent instability and curb insecurity (Tanya & Coleman, 2021). Thus, in the long run, the type of relationship between Afghanistan and other world nations will depend on how the group will run the government.
Impact of the Afghanistan Fall on Geopolitical Crises Management Strategies
The dramatic end of the Afghanistan peace mission will inevitably raise the question regarding whether military interventions are viable in the modern world. After two years of military intervention, the U.S. did not seem to make any worthwhile progress. The U.S. and its allies spent many years and massive resources on the mission through training the Afghanistan armed forces and deploying soldiers in its peacekeeping mission. The main goals of the intervention were restoring peace in Afghanistan and establishing a democratic government that would ensure the nation never falls in the hands of extremist groups such as the Taliban. However, the Taliban retook power less than a month after the U.S. withdrew its troops (Aydıntaşbaş et al., 2021). Thus, the dramatic fall of the Afghanistan government will raise the question about the future of military interventions and subsequently inform geopolitical crises management strategies.
In years to come, the withdrawal of the U.S. troops from Afghanistan and the Taliban takeover will become part of an objective process of strategic reprioritization. In the past centuries, nations have considered the U.S. the greatest nation on earth; as a result, they often include it as a crucial organizing principle in their foreign policy. The world is likely to view the withdrawal of U.S. troops and the failed mission as evidence of its unreliability and decline. The tarnished reputation coupled with the recent rise of China to power can influence nations to reprioritize their foreign policy’s key organizing principle (CITE). Aydıntaşbaş et al. (2021) insist that the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban swift takeover have set in motion events that will most likely dominate foreign policy agendas for months or even years to come. According to Roule (2021), the turn of events has left the U.S. reputation deeply bruised or perhaps scarred. Many of the U.S. allies are frustrated and concerned about the decision. Notably, this may influence foreign policy strategic direction.
To sum up, the decision by the U.S. to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan has proved calamitous as it was shortly followed by a swift power takeover by the Taliban. Notably, the fall of the Afghanistan government has the potential to change the geopolitical landscape, impact international relations, and influence nations to re-evaluate their geopolitical strategies. Regarding the geopolitical landscape, countries neighboring Afghanistan are currently scrambling to figure out how they will strategically adjust to the shifting geopolitical outlook following the establishment of a Taliban-led government. It is also worth noting that the Taliban takeover is likely to have varying impacts on international relations. Countries such as India and U.S. will experience dwindled relations with Afghanistan, while others such as Pakistan and China may benefit from the fall of the Afghanistan government. Concerning nations re-evaluating their geopolitical strategies, the swift Taliban takeover will spark the inevitable question regarding the viability of military interventions as crisis management strategies. The turn of events will also lead to the world questioning the reliability and credibility of the U.S. This may influence nations to rethink the strategic direction of their foreign policy.