Are you wondering why in the world would Norway welcome Taliban representatives a few months after the organisation took over Afghanistan? Here are some answers.
From Sunday 23 to Tuesday 25, a delegation of Taliban « diplomats » were invited for talks in the Norwegian capital with State Secretary Henrik Thune, the Foreign Ministry and humanitarian organisations, all that in the presence of allied nations. But why?
Before going any further, it is important to remind everyone that Afghanistan is in a deep economical crisis and its people in the verge of famine. According to the United Nations, 55% of the population is in dire need of help and it needs $5bn from donor countries to answer the urgent situation. This is greatly due to the fact that the United States froze $9.5bn in assets in the Afghan central bank and that international aid came to a halt as the Taliban « government » is not recognized by the international community. In the light of that human catastrophe bound to happen, Norway decided to open a dialogue with the Talibans so as to see how aid could be restored in key sectors, notably public employment in schools and hospitals, as well as make demands regarding mostly the rights of girls and women, especially in being allowed to study and work, and freedom of expression.
Norway has always been a nation prompt to help out and develop ways to support populations at risk everywhere in the world, as well as promote gender equality and freedom of expression. It kind of makes sense that it would decide to tackle the complex Taliban and Afghanistan topic, especially right after forming a new government that wants to shine on the international scene, since the national scene is not very favorable at the moment with the energy crisis.
The Norwegian move has been deeply criticized by a lot of Western diplomats, politicians and members of the civil society, saying that allowing an illegitimate group to meet with Western officials was equal to legitimizing it. Others have said that it was useless to do so as the Talibans are not ready to comply to any demand or request from the West, going in there just for their own interests and hoping to gain political recognition and aid money.
“In order to help civilians in Afghanistan, the international community as well as Afghans themselves must have a dialogue with the Taliban,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt stated before the talks. To which extent, though? The surprising encounter didn’t lead to any tangible result so far, at least no one declared it did, and it seems unlikely the Talibans would have budged on their strict « governance » and attacks on human lives and freedoms.
Although a lot has been talked about in the days leading to those talks, little has been said since then, which leaves room to think the operation wasn’t successful for Norway. I am myself torn on the matter, not wishing to see the Afghan people suffer but also not seeing how it is possible to work with an organisation denying the most basic needs of dignity to them, pushing them into poverty and darkness.