- MIDDLE EAST FORUM - AUG 16, 2021 - Seth J. Frantzman - JERUSALEM POST -
The victors in Kabul will be those who benefit from the Taliban taking power. They will also be those who benefit or cheer as the US appears humiliated.
Among those "winners" are Qatar, Russia, China, Pakistan, Turkey and Iran. This can be seen in various ways. Most of these countries hosted the Taliban or tacitly backed them. Others, such as Turkey, have sought to have a role in post-American Afghanistan.
Iran's media is full of stories arguing that the Taliban won't export extremism or threaten anyone and that Iran has always helped the Afghan people. Iranian official Ali Shamkhani, for instance, has put out positive statements about Iran's role in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Qatar's Al Jazeera was on hand to showcase the Taliban taking the presidential palace in Kabul. It appears Qatar had advance knowledge of the Taliban's plans because Doha has been hosting the Taliban for years.
Qatar has a large US military base but has always backed religious extremists, including Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, and has given red-carpet treatment to the Taliban. This is a big win for Qatar, and it will use it for leverage across the Middle East.
While Qatar and Turkey benefit because of their links to Islamist groups and general backing for Islamist movements, Iran benefits from seeing the US leave its doorstep. Iran also wants the US out of Iraq and will use the Afghan chaos to push it to leave Iraq as well.
Turkey will be working with Russia and Iran in Syria to try to get the US to leave. All these countries agree that they want America gone from the region.
Russia and China have both hosted Taliban delegations in recent years and months. They want to have open channels to the Taliban and consider recognizing them as the new government. This is important at the United Nations Security Council. With backing from Russia and China, the Taliban can get the international clout they need and eventually obtain wider recognition.
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