G20 leaders on Tuesday pledged to avert an economic meltdown in Afghanistan through propping up the country’s economy and continuing to provide aid. The EU is to provide around $1.5 billion, while Germany has promised $600 million, both to Afghanistan and surrounding countries. The group, however, stressed that this did not mean recognition, and, that means of providing aid directly to NGOs and Afghans would first be explored.
The G20 meeting came amidst intensified and increased talks between the Taliban and Western governments, including the US and UK, with both countries vowing to cooperate and coordinate with the Taliban, especially in relation to aid and ‘counter terrorism’. Actual recognition was still refrained from.
The Taliban was also invited to a virtual summit to be convened by Moscow on October 20.
Although safety has improved since the Taliban takeover, the country’s economy is in a dire situation, especially since most aid has been halted. Moreover, the US continued to maintain a freeze on the $9 billion worth of Afghan reserves. Meanwhile, ISIS Khurasan Province (ISKP), continues to launch daily attacks on the Taliban and on Afghan civilians, the latest being an attack on a Shia Masjid in Kunduz, which killed over a hundred worshippers.
Speaking to Radio Islam International, Haroun Rahimi, a law professor at the American University of Afghanistan, reiterated the dual and mutually beneficial aspects of such talks between Western countries, especially the US, and the Taliban. He argued that these countries wanted ‘counter terrorism’ cooperation and certain guarantees on women’s rights before releasing humanitarian aid, but that most have continued to argue that recognition would still not immediately be granted. The Taliban, although confronting ISKP, has stated that it would not coordinate with the US, which Rahimi saw as a bargaining chip. It is noteworthy that the Taliban have adopted a very heavy-handed approach in dealing with ISKP, which included extrajudicial killings and raids. Further, it is significant that around 40% of the country’s GDP was derived from international aid, which constitutes over 60% of government revenue, leaving the group vulnerable to such stick-based approaches. The Taliban has thus continued to cooperate with Western governments in relation to evacuations and ‘counter terrorism’. However, to date, little has been provided for this cooperation.