Taliban seeking legitimacy with foreign trips


KABUL (SW) – Analysts believe the Taliban are seeking to garner legitimacy with rounds of trip to a number of regional countries.

The Taliban delegation has traveled to Turkmenistan this time following trips to Iran and Russia.

A delegation from the group led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, deputy head and head of the group’s political bureau, traveled to Ashgabat at the official invitation of Turkmenistan last night (Friday, February 5).

Mohammad Naeem, a spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Qatar, wrote on Twitter the head of the group’s political bureau and his accompanying delegation had met with Turkmen Deputy Prime Minister Rashid Muradov and other officials.

According to Naeem, the meeting focused on “bilateral issues, better relations between the two countries, border security, and support for Turkmenistan’s projects in Afghanistan, the release of prisoners and education and health.”

“Large pipeline and railway projects in particular were discussed,” he wrote.

This come amid stalled intra-Afghan talks in the Qatari capital, Doha.

Political analysts believe that the Taliban want to gain regional legitimacy with these trips.

Abdul Sattar Saadat, a political analyst, said the Taliban are working for their regional legitimacy and are playing a more active role than the Afghan government in these terms. According to him, with these trips, the Taliban want to prove that they are no longer an insurgent group and act as an alternative to the government.

Younus Fakoor, another political analyst, said the Taliban are worried that the new US administration will reconsider after evaluating the peace agreement, hence they want to attract the attention of the countries in the region. He added Taliban want to use these contacts to convince these countries not to cooperate with Afghan government.

On Friday evening, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke by telephone about relations between the two countries and recent developments in the Afghan peace process. In the telephone conversation, the US Secretary of Defense told President Ghani that his new government supports a lasting peace that benefits the Afghans and ensures a lasting ceasefire.