China moves toward recognition of Taliban regime

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Jan. 29 officially accepted the credentials of the envoy to Beijing from Taliban-ruled Afghanistan—a clear step toward recognition of the regime. A month before that, Wang Yi, the Chinese foreign minister, visited Kabul to meet with Taliban foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi—the highest-level meeting between China and the Taliban regime since its return to power in 2021. China has already struck hydrocarbon deals with the Taliban, and has been eyeing Afghanistan's lithium, copper and rare-earth metal mines. This is in line with Beijing's perceived design to establish control over the planet's rare earth minerals. (Eurasian TimesCNBC)

The Taliban seizure of Kabul in August 2021 ousted the internationally recognized Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (IRA), and revived the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA). Since then, most states have taken the position that Afghanistan no longer has an internationally recognized government. The US has refused to extend the diplomatic credentials of the IRA-appointed diplomats, while also failing to recognize the IEA. Many states have allowed IEA-appointed diplomats to assume their work while formally maintaining their non-recognition policy. The UN credential committee has allowed the previous IRA-appointed representative to keep Afghanistan's seat for now, while refraining from a formal decision as to which entity can act on behalf of the Afghan state. Complicating matters, that ambassador, Naseer A. Faiq, denies that he represents the "former corrupt government." (Jurist)

Only three countries—Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates—recognized the Taliban's IEA the last time it was in power (1996-2001). Nor did it ever gain control of Afghanistan's UN seat, which remained in the hands of the previous Burhanuddin Rabbani government. While the IEA again holds power in Kabul, Amrullah Saleh, who was first vice president under the IRA, still claims to be the country's lawful president. (Brookings)

The "emir" or "supreme leader" of the IEA is Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada, who issues diktats that have severely restricted the rights of women. Rights groups have called for Taliban leaders to be tried for breaches of international law under principles of "universal jurisdiction."