Washington struggling to isolate the Islamic Emirate

Ariana News
March 17, 2024

A growing number of governments, including China, are going against Washington’s approach and are not treating the Islamic Emirate as a pariah regime.

According to an article published in Foreign Affairs, the United States and its allies’ approach has been to isolate the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), by withholding diplomatic recognition and the benefits that usually come with normal diplomatic relations.

The approach that the United States and its allies and partners ultimately converged on was a commitment to continue engaging with the Afghan people—for example by providing substantial humanitarian aid—while withholding diplomatic recognition of the IEA and the benefits that usually come with normal diplomatic relations.

In fact, over the past two years, the United States has sought to build on this approach—not only by withholding its own recognition of the IEA but also by sustaining an international consensus on nonrecognition.

However, in the wake of concerted diplomatic efforts by the IEA to court neighboring countries and others in the region, several nations have been willing to accommodate the Islamic Emirate.

As Foreign Affairs reported, these states are among foreign governments that have embassies in Kabul and that host Afghan embassies overseas.

In January, several of these powers, including China, Iran, and Russia, even took part in a multilateral conference of their own hosted by the IEA.

Meanwhile, the IEA appears to be unmoved by global shaming, in particular when it comes to what they deem domestic affairs, such as the question of girls’ access to higher education and women’s right to work, Foreign Affairs reported.

Instead, Afghanistan’s leaders have portrayed international pressure as a violation of the country’s sovereignty, framing calls by Western leaders to uphold international norms as the latest episode in a long history of interference and intervention.

As the IEA has become more established in power, they have doubled down on a posture of resistance. As a result, rather than moderate their policies, they have pressed forward with further restrictions on women and social norms, Foreign Affairs reported.

The article stated that the erosion of the consensus on diplomatic isolation of the IEA raises important questions for Washington and its partners.

Nonrecognition is no longer a credible coercive tool, and if the United States seeks to influence the Islamic Emirate’s behavior, it must find other ways to achieve its desired aims.

Moreover, the Afghan case echoes similar situations Washington has faced with other difficult regimes, including its failure to prevent Arab countries from normalizing ties with Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, despite crimes committed during the Syrian civil war, or to enforce a global consensus on the isolation of Russian President Vladimir Putin following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Today, attempts by the United States to impose pariah status on regimes it doesn’t like are running up against serious limits.

However, analysts disagree on why Russia and China have not taken the final step of recognizing the IEA. One possibility is that both powers still seek more assurances from Kabul, especially concerning potential terrorist threats from (Daesh) Islamic State Khorasan and a number of other groups.

And as long as the United States actively promotes a nonrecognition strategy, Moscow and Beijing can reap many of the benefits of recognizing the IEA without having to formally buck the international consensus, Foreign Affairs reported.

“Thus, they can reassure the Taliban (IEA) they are on their side (for example by backing them in last December’s UN Security Council proceedings, defending Taliban positions on the recommendations of a recent UN assessment) while also withholding full recognition,” the article read.

Overall, the IEA is not being treated as a pariah regime – despite concerted US efforts to maintain an international consensus on nonrecognition. On the contrary, the region, led by China, is gradually normalizing with Kabul—and intends to continue doing so.

The IEA, for their part, are being validated by this expanding engagement. Their sense of confidence and a loss of patience with conditions-based, Western-backed engagement was evident in their refusal to attend the UN meeting of Afghan envoys in February.

The IEA was not invited to last year’s summit, so they rejected the new meeting as “ineffective and counterproductive.” Likely emboldened by Beijing treating them as a normal regime, the IEA responded to the UN’s invitation by insisting they be treated as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.

Foreign Affairs reported that with new sources of support, the IEA has less reason to submit to Western demands on human rights or inclusiveness in their government.

The failure of Washington’s existing IEA approach highlights the growing challenges to US diplomatic power around the world, Foreign Affairs stated.

Amid two major wars and intensifying strategic competition with China, the United States faces new difficulties in forging a collective international response to pressing global crises.

Meanwhile, China and regional actors are charting their own diplomatic paths, and regimes that the United States seeks to pressure can often find enough friends to defy Washington and maneuver for diplomatic gain, Foreign Affairs reported.

Washington struggling to isolate the Islamic Emirate