The United Nations is considering a travel ban for Taliban officials, but will it change anything?

The Biden administration is locked in a fierce internal debate over whether to extend a Trump-era waiver that would allow selected Taliban officials to travel abroad as they grapple with how to pressure the regime over the deteriorating human rights situation in Afghanistan.

The United Nations Security Council imposed a long-standing international travel ban on Taliban leaders, but this ban was rescinded to allow foreign powers to enter into peace and stability talks with the hard-line regime, consolidating its grip on power in Afghanistan despite the lack of international recognition of it as the legitimate Afghan government. . The Taliban government is largely made up of wanted terrorists.

The waiver of that embargo expires on June 20, putting Washington and other Western powers in a diplomatic quandary. They can extend the exemption to the travel ban to continue dealing with the Taliban—perhaps seen as a reward to the Taliban despite their repressive political crackdowns and rollbacks of basic human rights—and risk losing what little involvement and influence they may have left with the armed group.

The Biden administration is locked in a fierce internal debate over whether to extend a Trump-era waiver that would allow selected Taliban officials to travel abroad as they grapple with how to pressure the regime over the deteriorating human rights situation in Afghanistan.

The United Nations Security Council imposed a long-standing international travel ban on Taliban leaders, but this ban was rescinded to allow foreign powers to enter into peace and stability talks with the hard-line regime, consolidating its grip on power in Afghanistan despite the lack of international recognition of it as the legitimate Afghan government. . The Taliban government is largely made up of wanted terrorists.

The waiver of that embargo expires on June 20, putting Washington and other Western powers in a diplomatic quandary. They can extend the exemption to the travel ban to continue dealing with the Taliban—perhaps seen as a reward to the Taliban despite their repressive political crackdowns and rollbacks of basic human rights—and risk losing what little involvement and influence they may have left with the armed group.

So far, the Biden administration has not decided whether it will support extending the waiver to the travel ban, first approved by former US President Donald Trump in 2019, or letting it fall. A spokesman for the US National Security Council said: “Negotiations are still ongoing, and no formal decisions have been made.”

Human rights groups are pressing Washington to reimpose the travel ban while key US allies at the United Nations indicate they will support an extension of the waiver. “[T]Exemption from the travel ban is first and foremost a tool to facilitate contact with the de facto authorities. “In our view, this remains critical if we are to influence the course of Afghanistan’s future,” Henrik Thun, Norway’s deputy foreign minister, said in a statement. Norway holds a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council, and this year hosted talks with the Taliban in Oslo, Norway.capital , To pressure the group on human rights concerns.

The Taliban take full advantage of the waiver of their travel ban. In recent weeks, Taliban officials have traveled to Qatar to meet with the US special envoy to Afghanistan, Thomas West – who has lobbied them to respect women’s rights – and attended a glittering international economic forum in Saint Petersburg, Russia. In the past, the UN Security Council has extended exemptions for travel bans in 90-day increments.

Within the US State Department and National Security Council, there are officials who feel Washington should halt international travel to the Taliban, and are fed up with the lack of any real progress in talks to ease their oppression of women and girls or keep any promises. They did so when he took power to respect human rights and form an inclusive government. On the other side, there are officials who say that extending the exemption to the travel ban is the only way to continue any dialogue with the Taliban, and reimposing the ban will only empower hardliners within the Taliban’s power structure who want to refuse to engage with the West entirely. .

At home, US President Joe Biden is facing mounting political pressure not to be seen as soft on the Taliban, particularly from his critics in the Republican Party after his decision to withdraw all US troops from the country in August 2021 sent chaos and murder. The collapse of the Afghan government and the victory of the Taliban.

Afghanistan turned out to be very bad for the Biden administration. And the last thing they want is to give Republicans a chance to come mid-November [elections]“It is seen as appeasing the Taliban or engaging with the Taliban,” said Kamran Bukhari, a researcher at the New Lines Institute, a think-tank.

Human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and former US officials are also pressing the Biden administration to ban the Taliban from international travel in response to their increasingly repressive rule.

Lisa Curtis, a researcher at the New Center on American Security and former top director of the US National Security Council for South and Central Asia during the Trump administration said. If you don’t use leverage [of the travel ban]So what do you have for it? “

Less than a year in power, the Taliban kept girls out of school and dictated what they could wear; In Afghanistan today, as in the 1990s, a woman needs to accompany a man to leave the house.

“We’re talking about a Taliban travel ban, well, the real travel ban is on Afghan women who are barely allowed out of their homes,” said Asila Wardak, an Afghan women’s rights activist and former Afghan diplomat now at Harvard University. Institute of Advanced Studies. But still, the Taliban have all the travel benefits you would want nonetheless.

Wardak, who fled Afghanistan after the Taliban took power, does not currently have the appropriate visas for travel outside the United States. She highlighted the irony that she could not go to international conferences to defend Afghan women’s rights while Taliban officials responsible for suppressing these rights had no such problem.

Diplomats and other experts question whether the threat of a UN travel ban is having much of an impact on the Taliban at all, as the international community is running out of “carrot and stick” to offer the Taliban to change course.

I don’t think the travel ban will really affect [them] Jennifer Brik Mertzashvili, a non-resident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said that despite some of the “carrots” given to the Taliban, they are well on their way to imposing their vision of their theocracy, which they promised.

Other diplomats believe any semblance of contact with the Taliban is over. “Over the past 10 months, the international community has been using every means possible to deal with the Taliban, but unfortunately all efforts seem to be approaching a dead end, a dead end full of broken promises and deep disappointments,” said Nasir Andisha, the current Afghan envoy to the United Nations. In Geneva, at the last UN Human Rights meeting.

Andisha represents the former internationally recognized Afghan government that was overthrown by the Taliban; The United Nations has not yet allowed Taliban representatives to take seats for the Afghan government in its international forums as no country currently recognizes the Taliban government.

The militant group had spent the past 20 years mobilizing a violent insurgency and promised to re-impose an extremist interpretation of Islamic rule. Now, in the wake of the victory, it has the capacity of an entire government — shaped over two decades and with billions of dollars in international aid — at its disposal. In the end, this is a dangerous combination.

“what are theyre done is“I was very intoxicated by the power of the state, the power of total tyrannical control, the possession of an army and all the things that they did not have before,” said Murtazashvili. “For me, thisThe main difference, not whether theyRe-extremist or moderate, but their belief in the state and their belief in the ability of the state.”

Leave a Comment