'On the Road to Becoming Besties': US, Taliban Have 'Plenty of Reasons to Cozy up', Ex-UK Envoy Says
© AP Photo / Rahmat GulAnti-missile decoy flares are deployed as U.S. Black Hawk military helicopters and a dirigible balloon fly over the city of Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021.
© AP Photo / Rahmat Gul
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - There is nothing of substance that will prevent the United States from normalizing relations with a new government in Kabul after the Taliban* takeover, although it may take a few months to negotiate the awkward U-turn, former UK diplomat Peter Ford told Sputnik.
On Sunday, the Taliban completed their takeover of Afghanistan by entering Kabul, which raised concerns and questions of how they might rule. At a presser on Monday, President Joe Biden said Afghan government forces collapsed faster than the United States expected but vowed the US would continue to fight for human rights.
"Nothing substantial stands in the way of us seeing by mid-2022 the United States and the Taliban not only normalizing relations but on the road to becoming besties [best friends]," Ford said. "It’s easy to overlook what should really be obvious: that other than 9/11 and its aftermath, all safely in the past, the United States and the Taliban have little reason to be enemies today and plenty of reasons to cozy up."
However, Ford said the US will need several months to negotiate this "awkward U –turn," given teaming up with a terror-supporting erstwhile enemy "is not a good look." However, he added, the Taliban have had plenty of time to rue their mistakes and will not want to risk a repeat of the movie.
Moreover, the Taliban’s Sunni Islamist fundamentalist ideology is not dissimilar to that of US allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Ford pointed out. In fact, he added, from a US perspective there is nothing not to like given the Taliban hate Shia Iran and Russia as well.
© AP Photo / Hussein SayedAfghanistan's Taliban delegation arrive for the agreement signing between Taliban and U.S. officials in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020.
Afghanistan's Taliban delegation arrive for the agreement signing between Taliban and U.S. officials in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020.
"Did the CIA not actively support the Taliban when the group was fighting Russia?" Ford asked rhetorically. "It would be nothing new for the US to pact with this devil."
Top of the mutual agenda, of course, will be an alliance against Tehran, Ford said. Even if the nuclear deal with Iran is renewed, the United States has made clear "it has many more bones to pick with Iran," he said.
"And of course ‘adversary’ Russia has to be thwarted on its southern approaches just as it must be undermined on its Western borders, dictating close cooperation with the rulers in Kabul. Then looming ever larger is the specter of China breaking out of its ‘containment’ on its own Western borders, again dictating US cooperation with Kabul," Ford said.
Ford also said the US and Taliban share Daesh* as a common enemy. The insurgents also have never taken much interest in supporting Palestine and never lifted a finger against Israel, Ford said.
16 August 2021, 17:03 GMT
"In time they could probably be bought - for a price - to follow the examples of the Gulf feudal monarchies of pacting with Israel," he said.
In any case, Afghanistan was doomed ever to be a pawn in the Great Game of the superpowers in Central Asia, pioneered by the United Kingdom and Russia back in the days of Queen Victoria and the Indian Raj, Ford concluded.
* Terrorist groups outlawed in Russia