INTERNATIONAL: It’s a new month and a new start for Afghanistan. The Taliban is moving quickly to assert itself a day after western evacuations were completed from Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International, and the last US troops left Afghan soil after 20 years of occupation.
The Taliban paraded themselves victoriously on the tarmac of an airport that was the centre of the world’s attention for the past week. Over 125-thousand western diplomats and some of the Afghans who worked for them were airlifted during one of the largest operations of its kind in history, but thousands of Afghans have been left behind. The Taliban says they have nothing to fear and there is no longer a need for war. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid says the group wants diplomatic relations with the United States, as well as with other countries around the world as it seeks to rebuild a country shattered by decades of civil war, invasion and occupation. The group says its first job is to reopen Kabul’s main airport.
Elsewhere in the capital though, possibly predictable scenes of what some members of the Taliban really think about their former occupiers. This was billed as a celebration, by a group that is promising peace, stability and socio-economic development in a new “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan”.
Across the region, there is a sense of resignation that isolating the Taliban is not going to be an option and that engagement is going to be key to ensuring regional security. In Qatar, Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani was hosting his German counterpart. He told the media that he’s choosing to look on the bright side:
"We believe that isolation is not an answer, yet the recognition is still not a priority for us. So this is given our assessment that Taliban being isolated in 1996 has led us to the situation that we were in previously in Afghanistan. Yet we have seen that the engagement can give us some positive results."
He is urging countries around the world to work with the Taliban as another power vacuum would be the worst possible outcome for the international community. Not one country has yet formally recognized the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan.
Photo: MOCK FUNERAL HELD BY TALIBAN IN AFGHANISTAN / MOCK COFFINS WITH U.S. BRITISH AND NATO FLAGS BEING CARRIED THROUGH PROCESSION / ARMED TALIBAN FIGHTERS ON CAR