(Photo Credit: AP)
According to a Reuters report, an envoy from Qatar’s foreign ministry, Mutlaq bin Majed al-Qahtani, visited Kabul on 5 February to meet with representatives of the Taliban in Afghanistan to discuss bilateral cooperation.
Qahtani was received by Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, to discuss furthering bilateral relations and Doha potentially providing humanitarian aid to Kabul.
This comes after widespread international criticism of the Taliban government from several regional, EU countries as well as NGOs over its laws regarding restrictions on women in the workforce, education, and social life.
In November last year, Afghan judges officially ordered the full implementation of Sharia law, imposing harsh punishments for specific crimes, including mutilations, flogging, amputations, and executions, authorized by the Taliban’s supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada.
Since the Taliban consolidated power in August 2021, no country has recognized the new government.
However, in 2022, several countries engaged in talks with Kabul, including the UAE, when on 5 December 2022, Afghanistan’s Minister of Defense, Mullah Mohammed Yaqoob, visited the UAE to meet President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.
The rare visit tackled the will of both leaders to “strengthen relations and advance the bilateral cooperation between the UAE and Afghanistan,” according to a statement by Afghan’s ministry of defense.
Despite the two countries having no diplomatic ties, the UAE and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) signed a contract with UAE-based company GAAC Holding to operate the country’s airports and transport infrastructure.
The 10-year-long contract was hailed as a “significant development” by Ibrahim Moarafi, the General Manager of GAAC.
Earlier this year, China also reached out to Afghanistan, signing a contract between Chinese companies Xinjiang Central Asia Petroleum and Gas Co. (CAPEIC) and the Taliban to extract oil from the nation’s northern provinces.
Under the agreement, the Chinese companies will invest $150 million a year into Afghanistan. China’s investments could increase to $540 million within three years, with the contract set to last 25 years, according to Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid.
The Taliban administration is set to have a 20 percent share in the partnership project that could eventually increase to 75 percent, the Chinese ambassador to Afghanistan Wang Yu said.
China also has yet to recognize the Taliban administration; however, it is interested in bringing the West Asian state to join Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative due to its strategic location.