As Taliban declares Sharia law, how will other countries respond politically and financially to Afghanistan?

People hold placards during a protest in support of Afghanistan following Taliban's takeover of the country, at Syntagma Square in Athens, Greece, August 19, 2021. Photo by REUTERS/Louiza Vradi.

Today the Taliban said they will return the country to Sharia law. Will the international community recognize the new government or isolate a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan? 

The U.S. has frozen billions of dollars in the Afghan central bank, and it’s trying to block the Taliban from accessing billions of dollars from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. 

But countries like China, Russia and Pakistan could still have a financial interest in working with Afghanistan.

Afghanistan has a huge amount of untapped mineral wealth that China is very interested in, says Megan K. Stack, author and journalist who has reported from Afghanistan and other countries in the region.

“I think there's 1.5 million tons of rare earth elements, which is something that China controls most of the processing of in the world. I believe they control 90% of the world's processing capacity of rare earth elements,” says Stack. “So they are very interested in finding a way to make some deals and be able to start to … exploit some of their natural resources that are now, I guess, falling to Taliban control.”

Robert D. Crews, history professor at Stanford, emphasizes that the key priority now is on the Biden administration to perform Afghan evacuations. 

He adds, “The absence of other alternatives is really striking and points to a series of fundamental policy failures here. So I think to press the American public to think about, and the Biden administration in particular of course, to think about the ethical implications of dealing with the state. [What will it] mean if the state does not want to fund hospitals, what will be the responsibility of international aid organizations?”

Crews also points out that this humanitarian crisis will not remain in Afghanistan. “It will spill over into neighboring territories, and of course, will affect domestic politics, United States, and Europe.”

Credits

Guests:

  • Robert D. Crews - history professor at Stanford
  • Megan K. Stack - author and journalist who has reported from Afghanistan and other countries in the region