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In April, President Joe Biden ordered the Pentagon to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan by September 11, ending America’s longest war.
As the US military presence dwindled, the Taliban advanced rapidly on the battlefield despite being outnumbered by the Afghan army. In recent weeks, the group has seized major cities and provincial capitals before entering the capital Kabul on Sunday and taking control of the presidential palace.
“There are a lot of geopolitical shifts right now, as Afghanistan’s neighbors figure out how to adapt to an emerging Taliban regime,” Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia program at the Woodrow Wilson Center, told CNBC.
Political risk consultancy Eurasia Group said in a note last week that neighboring countries were concerned about political instability, likely influxes of refugees and the prospect of Afghanistan once again becoming a haven for terrorist activity. .
Pakistan has wielded considerable influence and influence over the Taliban in the past, according to analysts at Eurasia Group. It was one of the few countries that recognized the group as a legitimate government when it was in power.
Analysts said, however, that Islamabad’s influence had waned over the years and that Pakistan would likely be on guard against possible violence at its borders. Reports have indicated that the return of the Taliban to Afghanistan could potentially embolden terrorist groups in Pakistan, including the Pakistani Taliban, which could affect the security of the country.
“More broadly, Pakistan will see the rise of the Taliban as a major setback for its great rival, India, and therefore a positive outcome,” Eurasia Group analysts said.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Twitter that the country was working to evacuate diplomats and other personnel from Afghanistan. He also called on the international community to “remain engaged and involved in Afghanistan in a constructive manner”.
“Not only has the Taliban, traditionally an anti-Indian group, seized power, but India’s Chinese and Pakistani rivals are now poised to deepen their footprint in Afghanistan,” he said.
Eurasia Group analysts pointed out that India has made efforts to engage with the Taliban, but has effectively shut down most of its diplomatic operations in Afghanistan.
“India is particularly worried because the last time the Taliban was in power they sheltered pro-Pakistan militants,” analysts said. New Delhi fears that “an emboldened Pakistan will seize the opportunity to strike India; this would increase the potential for a wider Indo-Pakistani conflict ”.
India’s foreign ministry said in a statement that it had advised Indian nationals in Afghanistan to return to India immediately. He also said Tuesday that the Ambassador in Kabul and his Indian staff will quickly return to India.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said Beijing expects a smooth transfer of power and called for containing crime and terrorism.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with senior Taliban leaders last month.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reportedly said on Tuesday that Russia was in no rush to recognize the Taliban as legitimate authorities in Afghanistan and called for the formation of an inclusive government.
China and Russia still have reason to worry about the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan, according to Harsh V Pant, head of the strategic studies program at the Observer Research Foundation.
“It’s going to have repercussions across the region, in terms of how it will kick-start extremist ideologies again, radical ideologies,” Pant said.
Experts stressed that one of Russia’s immediate priorities would be to limit the risk of spillover from fighting or the movement of organized extremist groups to Central Asian states along Afghanistan’s northern border.
Kugelman of the Wilson Center added that Moscow’s main concern is the Islamic State, instead of the Taliban. “He will want to make sure that the Taliban, although they are a rival of ISIS, are attentive to the regional threat posed by ISIS. “
“Iran’s goal will be to stem the flow of refugees and drugs and prevent the Hazaras from being injured in Afghanistan,” analysts said.
The Hazaras, who are mostly Shia Muslims, are the third largest ethnic group in predominantly Sunni Afghanistan. In the past, the Taliban accused them of persecution.
The Iranian state “will probably mobilize more armed forces at the border and prepare for a number of contingencies, all of which could distract Tehran from the Arab world in the short term,” Eurasia Group analysts added.
– CNBC Amanda macias and Silvia Amaro contributed to this report.