KABUL – A top U.S. official has opposed the normalization of the Taliban and their de-facto governance of Afghanistan. In a letter addressed to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul expressed deep concerns about U.S. government officials traveling to meet with the Taliban, as it would legitimize their regime, which is still contested.
This comes as recently foreign officials have started traveling to Afghanistan, inadvertently lending credibility to the Taliban’s rule. Recently a British Member of Parliament visited Afghanistan and downplayed the Taliban’s grave human rights abuses, resulting in global backlash.
McCaul said the U.S. should lead the international community in demanding reforms from the Taliban instead of normalization. Any attempts by U.S. officials to travel to Afghanistan under the current Taliban administration would be a betrayal of the fallen and the millions of Afghans who still hope for a free, prosperous, and democratic Afghanistan. McCaul called for the U.S. to take a firm stance and prioritize demanding positive changes in Afghanistan, rather than legitimizing the Taliban rule.
No U.S. government official has visited the country since Taliban took over Afghanistan in 2021. Instead, regular meetings with Taliban representatives are held in Qatar to facilitate the evacuation of Americans and Afghan allies from Afghanistan. These meetings adequately fulfill the need for engagement between the U.S. and the Taliban. Given the Taliban’s active support of al-Qaeda and their oppression of women and minorities, no country has recognized them as the legitimate government of Afghanistan. Engaging with the Taliban through travel would only bolster their de-facto governance, which remains disputed. Such actions would not serve U.S. interests and would embolden the Taliban’s harmful practices.
Since gaining power, the Taliban’s behavior has worsened despite U.S. engagement. They continue to obstruct humanitarian aid efforts, appoint al-Qaeda officials to government positions, and enforce oppressive rules on women and girls, including barring them from education beyond the sixth grade.