Afghanistan: US and Taliban discuss aid in first direct talks since US exit.

Still insisting that they do not recognise the newly formed Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the US government completed their first direct talks with the Taliban earlier this month in Qatar. The main topic of progress: Aid.

At the start of the month, Doha-based Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen told press that a meeting with the US would address bilateral relations and the progress of the Doha agreement (2020).

Such ‘bilateral relations’ faltered at the US suggestion of cooperation between Washington and the Taliban in tackling a recent IS-K (Islamic State in Khorasan province) resurgence- The resurgence has killed hundreds of Shiite worshippers so far in recent suicide bombings. But progress was made elsewhere on the topics of safe passage for foreign nationals and what US spokesperson Ned Price called ‘robust humanitarian assistance’.

As the dust has settled from a crescendo of fighting-a crippled infrastructure, economic hardship and widespread displacement lay in the wake of a collapsed system and the rise of a Taliban regime. The country is in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), by September 22nd, 634,800 people had been displaced and 805,000 people had returned from neighbouring countries.

Large scale movement, combined with Afghanistan’s second severe drought in four years, covid-19 and the political persecution of certain working demographics have all led to widespread insecurity in the daily lives of the population.

Even by the half-year mark, it was projected that 18.4 million Afghan people needed aid in 2021. Now, as of September 24th, one in three people face ‘emergency’ or ‘crisis’ levels of food insecurity.

Clearly then, such Taliban cooperation at talks between representatives is positive. Yet, as Boris Johnson said in mid-August: the Taliban government should be judged by ‘actions rather than by its words’.

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Hamish Davis

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January 2022
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