Since its rise to power in Afghanistan in August 2021, the Taliban has shown no political flexibility regarding the acceptance of political pluralism or sharing power with other factions, despite substantial international pressure. The latest calls came in mid-September, issued by the United States, urging the movement to consider these aspects. This report explores whether the Taliban is likely to respond to these calls.
The Taliban’s assumption of power in Afghanistan marked a significant shift in the country’s political landscape. Their rule has been characterized by an absence of political flexibility, which is evident in their reluctance to embrace political pluralism and share power with other groups, despite persistent international pressure.
On September 15, the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan leveraged the International Day of Democracy to express support for an inclusive government in Afghanistan. The embassy, currently operating from Doha, Qatar, emphasized the need for a government that represents all Afghan citizens, stating, “Today is the International Day of Democracy. On this day, the United States always emphasizes the formation of a government that represents all Afghan people.”
The U.S. Embassy underscored the importance of a government that caters to the diverse segments of Afghan society, allowing the Afghan citizen’s voice to be heard and their aspirations to be realized.
This was not the first call from the international community for the Taliban to affirm its commitment to democracy and political participation. The movement had been subject to numerous appeals, some of which led to pressures aimed at mitigating their exclusionary practices, especially concerning women’s rights.
In January 2023, Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, warned of the grave consequences that could arise due to discriminatory practices against women. She threatened to cut aid to Afghanistan due to the Taliban’s severe restrictions on women’s rights. Addressing the European Union, she stated, “Governments must explain to their taxpayers why they continue to provide funds to a country that discriminates against women to such an extent.”
Amina Mohammed urged the international community to exert pressure on the Taliban to retract their discriminatory decisions against women, which extended to female employees of humanitarian and relief organizations.
Since the first day of their rule, the Taliban has consistently rebuffed all calls related to political participation and women’s rights. Despite their outward declarations of accepting the participation of certain factions from the previous regime in political life, many remain skeptical due to the lack of trust in the movement. This skepticism is compounded by the Taliban’s exclusionary practices, arbitrary arrests, and extrajudicial executions of former government officials, actions widely condemned by international humanitarian and human rights organizations.
Dr. Mohamed El-Sayed, an expert in Asian affairs, emphasized, “There are no foreseeable results in the near or distant future regarding these calls or pressures exerted by the international community for the acceptance of political participation by the Taliban. The movement fundamentally rejects such matters that contradict its beliefs.”
He added, “The Taliban made their stance clear from the very beginning of their rule in Afghanistan when they appointed government members exclusively from within their own ranks, even including individuals listed as terrorists. Therefore, the idea of the Taliban accepting the formation of a diverse, national government in Afghanistan seems almost impossible with the presence of the Taliban in power.”
The expert on Asian affairs noted that this stance is not surprising, given the nature of the Taliban and other Islamist movements, which only recognize those who are affiliated with them. It is not easy for them to accept individuals who do not belong to their movement or do not completely submit to their authority.