H.E. Khaled Ahmad Zekriya Participated in a Panel Discussion Organized by the Italian Institute for the Future and Center for European Future


On November 26, 2021, H.E. Khaled Ahmad Zekriya, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Italy, took part in a panel discussion titled “20 years After Sept. 11, Regime Change in Afghanistan and the Transformation of the International System” at the Museo Della Pace in Napoli. In this panel which was organized by the Italian Institute for the Future and Center for European Future, Ambassador of Afghanistan gave an overview of the current situation in the country, possible future scenarios, channels for global engagement in Afghanistan, the illegitimacy of the Taliban administration in Kabul and finally the role of Afghanistan in the transformation of the international system.


H.E. Ambassador's full contribution can be found below:






بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم

In the Name of Almighty God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

Dr. Roberto Paura, President of the Italian Institute for the Future,

Mr. Capaso, President of the Peace Museum,

Dr. Vincent Torre,

Esteemed Panelists,

Dear Academics,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good afternoon.

First and foremost, I would like to extend my gratitude to the Italian Institute for the Future and Center for European Futures, and in particular to Dr. Paura and Dr. Torre for inviting me to speak at today’s panel discussion on Afghanistan titled: “Twenty Years after September 11, Afghanistan between Regime Change and Transformation of the International System.”

In view of the time allotted to me:

  • First, I will talk about the current situation as it relates to Humanitarian Crisis and Evacuation, IDPs and Migration, Socioeconomic Degradation, Human Rights Violations, Terrorist Groups Affiliation and Operations, and Regional Interests and Polarization.
  • Second, I will provide you with some probable scenarios in Afghanistan.
  • Third, I will elaborate on some available options for engagement with the Taliban as well as provide some proposals to avoid the worst-case scenario, which is political collapse, start of a civil war, and regional rivalries.
  • Fourth, based on the Structural (Macro) school of Political Science, I will talk about the reasons behind the illegitimacy of the Taliban regime as well as a brief analysis regarding the transformation of the international system starting with the signing of the Doha agreement and with the assumption of power by force by the Taliban.

Before starting, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our international allies, particularly Italy for their sacrifices rendered both in blood and treasure in Afghanistan. The 54 brave Italians who lost their precious lives for the cause of freedom, democracy, human rights, and the fight against terrorism were not in vain. Rest be assured, that their memories will be marked as immortal in the history of Afghanistan. My appreciation also goes to the government of Italy for the evacuation of 5000 Afghans as well as organizing and leading the G20 Special Session on Afghanistan.

As it relates to the current dire situation in Afghanistan, we need to address issues based on an immediate, midterm, and long-term approach.


The most important an immediate issue is Humanitarian Crisis, and all our efforts are needed here. As you may know, currently:

  • Approximately 23 million Afghans are at the risk of food insecurity.
  • 14 million Afghans are on the brink of full starvation.
  • As many as 8.7 million people would need long-term and consistent assistance.
  • This crisis has become worse with widespread and long-term poverty, difficult security situation, natural disasters, and exacerbated by climate change and ongoing drought as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • While humanitarian staff can enter the country through UNHAS, four important problems exist:
  1. Issues affecting the movement of international and non-governmental organization’s current indigenous female staff to distribute aid and to allow female recipients to receive aid;
  2. The employment of new female staff, their acceptance, and safety as well as other humanitarian actors, throughout the country and especially in the south;
  3. Uncertainty regarding the extent of bureaucratic impediments due to permanent closure, non-functionality of various ministries, and the significant gap in qualified staff where at point international organizations worked or had embedded units at these ministries;
  4. Though the Taliban have announced new caretaker ministers and have called for the resumption of humanitarian activities and reportedly produced a manual on NGO operational guidelines, these theoretical guidelines and assurances have not been implemented by their local and decentralized administration; and
  5. The humanitarian assistance general licenses issued by the US only permit certain humanitarian-related transactions for mostly NGOs to provide basic needs. Because of its narrower focus, the US policy must address the requirements of legitimate private-sector businesses to assist in this area to prevent a wider catastrophe.

Based on these problematics, since the current humanitarian assistance efforts are insufficient, and unsustainable, beside the establishment of a humanitarian financial corridor, a viable coordination, implementation, and monitoring mechanism must be set up.

In area of Humanitarian Evacuation:

  • It is an urgent matter, because it is the only life-saving measure for former Afghan defense, security and intelligence personnel, ministries’ former officials, MPs, journalists, academics, civil society members and those that have worked for western nations public and private sector in Afghanistan.
  • The recent pledges by the Taliban not to seek “revenge” have not been observed, where killings have occurred, and raids have been conducted to search for those that are in hiding. In fact, relatives of those Afghans who worked with former government and foreign forces and institutions have been summoned to court.
  • So far about 110,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan.

Hence, it is imperative for the Taliban to allow this process, so Afghans based on their own free will can leave either directly from Afghanistan or go to a second country for the safe evacuation to occur from there.

Regarding Internal Displacement People (IDPs) and internal migration:

  • There are 5.5 million IDPs in Afghanistan.
  • The IDP trends and patterns will arise with the current security situation, drought, and forced displacement as seen in Kandahar and Daikundi in Afghanistan.

Therefore, in view of the current internal dynamics, external economic migration will increase in the following months. As an example, in the past 3 months close to 330,000 have left Afghanistan for Iran. As most of Afghan migrant’s aim is to reach Europe, this will become another concern for the international community to deal with.

As it relates to Socioeconomic Degradation:

  • Since donors have suspended billions of dollars in assistance that supported up 75 percent of the Afghan government’s budget and accounted for 40 percent of annual gross domestic product, has destroyed the economy.
  • Currently, the financial system is faced with:
  1. Currency Depreciation and shortage of Afghan currency known as Afghani;
  2. Shortage the US dollar upon which the economy relies;
  3. Widespread Inflation;
  4. Increase in food and energy prices;
  5. Lack of access to money (coming into and accessible in-country via transfers);
  6. Increase in bankruptcies, and credit crunches;
  7. Inability to pay salaries, which has led to decline in local purchases;
  8. Increase in illicit business such as drug trafficking and illicit smuggling and of national historical/cultural antiquity properties;
  9. Inability to provide basic social services to the population;
  10. Weak confidence rate amid political uncertainties, thus reluctance to invest; and
  11. COVID-19 resulting in a 2% decrease in gross domestic product growth in 2020.

Therefore, Afghanistan’s poverty rate is expected to rise to over 70% in the next few months. This socioeconomic decline is going to get worse as the percentage of the female population over 15 years of age in employment, which was at 22% in 2019, with the Taliban not allowing women to go back to work, this percentage not only will decline, but it would also harm livelihoods and further increase poverty.

Public reports also indicate that Taliban have already mismanaged assistance resources within their control. The Taliban have not demonstrated any indication of good financial management or aptitude. Rather, they have appointed loyalists with no technical expertise, including to run the central bank. Their recent decision to ban the use of any foreign currency demonstrates the Taliban’s economic naivete and incompetence.

Recent pleas by some countries and international humanitarian and development agencies to release even a portion of the $9 billion of Afghanistan’s frozen reserves to the Taliban would not only legitimize the Taliban actions, but not guarantee that the Taliban could or would use these funds for the benefit of the Afghan people in need.

Also, as it relates to requests by international organizations to address the economic crisis by establishing a financial corridor without engaging the Taliban is not clear. Such a plan should be concise and clear and must be remain sanctions compliant.

One step in bringing this financial corridor to Afghanistan would be to privatize the Afghan Central Bank with use of appropriate controls to avoid Taliban interference or enrichment.

On the issue of Human Rights:

  • The Taliban have committed atrocities and serious human rights violations against Afghan civilians, including women and girls, children, minorities, journalists, human rights defenders, members of the Afghan Parliament, and individuals who worked or supported democratic rights and values in Afghanistan.
  • The imposition of restrictions on women in public workspaces recently seen in a new decree that women must wear hijab and TV shows and programs that have women actors, cannot be displayed by TV stations;
  • Forcing women governmental and non-governmental employees to not come back to work and stay in their homes;
  • Obstructing girls and women’s basic right to pursue education and higher education;
  • Restricting journalists from reporting and not giving them access to information along with abuse, abduction and killing them continues. In fact, recently 16 women journalists send me a letter to bring them to Italy; and
  • Music and musicians are banned from performing.

The only viable tool to monitor and report the Taliban’s human rights violation has been mostly done using telecommunication device-camera phones-and thereafter its release and share via social media. Therefore, without a viable mechanism on the ground in Afghanistan to monitor the Taliban, the human rights situation in Afghanistan is likely to get worse.

Regarding Terrorist Groups and Operations:

  • There are 22 operable terrorist groups in Afghanistan, out of which 19 of them are directly being supported by some of AFGHANISTAN’s neighboring countries. The most notorious terrorist groups are:
  1. The Taliban themselves known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Afghanistan (with 65,000 permanent foot soldiers, and 10,000 seasonal foot soldiers)
  2. The Haqqani Group, which is part of the Taliban having 15,000 militias of their own); 85 percent of the Taliban are from ethnic Pashtuns, out of which 70 percent of them are of the Ghiljai clan and the rest are of the Durani clan. Most Haqqanis are from Ghiljai clan
  3. Al-Qaeda with about 1800 militias
  4. Daesh (ISIS-K) having about 3000-4000 militias
  5. Tahrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP)
  6. (TIP) Turkestan Islamic Party formerly known as East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM)

7. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU)

8. YOGHOR Group

9. Forza Quds                                                          

10. Jundullah   

11. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi                                        

12. Bangladesh Jihadi Movement

13. Maulvi Nazir Group

14. Momin Group

15. Jamaat-e-Dawa to Al-Quran Sunna Group

16. Hezb-e-Mujahideen

17. Islamic Jehadi Movement           

18. Jaish Mohammad

19. Lashkar-e-Taiba

20. Tariq Gidar

21. Jamaat-ul-Ahrar

22. Islamic Jehid Alliance

Some reports indicate that a neighboring state’s intelligence service is currently seeking to contain the Taliban in Afghanistan by bringing a new militant group called the Islamic Invitation Front that was created in 2020.

As you may know, the Taliban’s governance prioritizes their own interpretation of Sharia via their traditional, non- bureaucratic, factional, and local accommodations.

In view of the Taliban’s traditional, non-bureaucratic, factional, and local accommodations, which has created fragmentation within the Taliban ranks and file, specifically between the Radical Haqqani Group and the Moderate Doha Group led by Mullah Brother, the Taliban’s sponsored states have finally realized that the Taliban regime is bound to collapse. Also, the international community’s call-in regard to Taliban’s lack of inclusivity and presence of known terrorists as members of their caretaker cabinet, disrespect for the rights of girls and women to pursue education and seek employment and to impede the media to function freely, (as witnessed during Taliban’s reign from 1996-2001 in Kabul), have been met with excuses, delays, and rebuff by the Taliban. Instead, to control further fragmentation and collapse, the Taliban have employed 6 important tactics:

  1. Transformed their insurgency to a government, by creation of Martyrdom Military Brigades. With this, the Taliban have institutionalized suicide bombing as a viable method in combat against all their internal and external enemies;
  2. Began selling large US weaponry to Pakistan and other terrorist groups to build their military and strengthen their terrorist group affiliates;
  3. Employed suicide bombings and attacks under the name of ISIS to keep their foot soldiers united to fight their so-called common enemy, where the Taliban are the good guys, and the ISIS are the bad guys. This is also being used as a ploy for legitimacy and recognition by the world;
  4. Showcased their new Military might during military parades in cities to give a sense of pride to their foot soldiers and at the same time threaten the public and some of Afghanistan’ s natural and near neighbors;
  5. Reinvited Al Qaeda members back to Afghanistan to support the Taliban militarily, financially, and ideologically. Their tie to Al Qaeda is historical and familial; and
  6. Keep the monopoly of power by keeping non-Taliban, women, opposition leaders, most other ethnic groups out of center and periphery of power to avoid alienation of their foot soldiers.


As it relates to Regional Interests and Polarization:

  • Currently China and Pakistan possess the same policy and approach regarding the Taliban due to their strategic partnership and mutual interests in Afghanistan. For China the use of the old Silk Road for transporting its exports via Afghanistan instead of Central Asia is more cost effective. Additionally, China’s interest in tapping on the underground resources of Afghanistan is of utmost importance. For Pakistan, under its coined strategy known as “Strategic Depth” in Afghanistan its aim is the containment of India, deflection of Islamic Radicalism from its own territory to Afghanistan, and consolidation of a regime under its full authority to have access to Central Asia for its export and import transport via Afghanistan, tapping on Afghanistan’s resources, particularly water resource, and the completion of the regional connectivity projects such as TAPI to make Pakistan energy sufficient. Furthermore, by having a regime of her choice in Afghanistan, Pakistan aims at formalizing its geographical map in the North to declare the fenced Durand Line a de jure border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. In fact, China and Pakistan are going to be the first countries that would most likely recognize the Taliban. The plea for recognition of the Taliban and unfreezing Afghanistan’s assets by the top authorities in during United Nations General Assembly and lately the reopening of the Afghan Embassy by the new Taliban diplomats in Islamabad without diplomatic recognition of the Taliban by Pakistan, which is against Vienna Conventions, are indicative of Pakistan’s attempt to further assist the Taliban regime. It should be noted that there are differences in views about the Taliban regime amongst political, intelligence and military elites in Pakistan.
  • Russia, India, and Iran have taken the same stance in Afghanistan. For these three countries the formation of an inclusive representative government and guarantee that Afghanistan soil is not going to be used against them by terrorists is of utmost concern. Additionally, for Russia and Iran the issue of narcotic trade and trafficking is also very alarming, especially as the Taliban have been using this illicit business to sustain their operations in Afghanistan.
  • Except for Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to restart their regional economic projects such as TAPPI, Casa 1000 etc., most Central Asian countries have followed Russia’s discourse as it relates to the Taliban and preconditions for their recognition. Most of Afghanistan’s Central Asian neighbors are threatened by the bleeding effects of terrorism from Afghanistan to their territories. Tajikistan has been very vocal about the formation of an inclusive government where Afghan Tajik opposition leaders must have a major part in it.
  • Lately, Turkey and Qatar have taken more of a pragmatic approach in terms of engaging with the Taliban. The recent signing of the US-Doha agreement is indicative of the fact that the US also supports Doha’s pragmatic approach with the Taliban. Some Central Asian countries such as Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan follow the Pan Turkism stance as it relates to the Taliban.
  • UAE due to its rivalries and competition with Qatar has lately taken Pakistan’s recommendations and began to open its embassy in Kabul. Most likely recognition of the Taliban by this country will be followed by Pakistan and China.
  • Saudi Arabia has basically adopted a stern policy by not talking to the Taliban by rationalizing that the Taliban are not going to change and thus are deemed a threat for the region and a disgrace for the Islam and Muslim community.


Now, we have reached the second part of my talk in giving you some probable scenarios.

SCENARIO ONE:  Pragmatic Representative Governance (Defined as a Desirable State)-Considering the Taliban’s diplomatic activities in recent years and giving reassurance that they won’t allow Afghan soil to be used by terrorists, as agreed in the Doha Agreement and intra-Afghan negotiations and UN Resolution 2513, Taliban restart negotiation and form an inclusive interim administration, draft a viable constitution that replaces the current constitution that allow a representative system. The Taliban agree to be an important part, not the only part of the new semi-representative government. They are recognized by most countries and conflict levels remain low despite the presence of some other terrorist groups. The new government shows leniency, inclusiveness across gender and ethnic lines, and a genuine desire to respect women and girls’ rights as well as minority rights in Afghanistan.

SCENARIO TWO:  Collapse and Civil War (Defined as an Undesirable State)-Considering the Taliban’s past and present lack of attention given to the international community’s demands, pockets of national uprising in urban centers and internal resistance around rural areas, including the IRoA government in exile and National Resistance Front, along with other terrorist groups begin to compete for power in Kabul and the Taliban regime falls apart and a civil war begins.

The economy fully collapses and illicit business such as narcotic trade economy prevails. The regional powers join the war for their own competing interests in Afghanistan, the US and NATO indirect military reengagement in Afghanistan against the Taliban, their affiliates and state sponsors begin.

SCENARIO THREE: Fragmented-Rouge Governance (Defined as a Unsustainable State)- Considering differences in theological interpretation of Islam and policy/planning amongst the Taliban groups, internal splits within the Taliban leads to a Fragmented Governance within the Taliban leadership, administrative ranks and files and foot soldiers. Also, in view of the past ideological, economic, and familial ties with other terrorist groups as well as coordinated incessant attacks on mosques, hospitals, targeted assassinations of former government officials alone another the name of other terrorist groups, the Taliban keep a closed foreign policy circle with Pakistan and China and take an opportunistic stance towards the US and its allies to gain recognition. However, after an initial period of engagement of the wider international community, only a few natural neighbors support and recognize the Taliban. Women and minority rights are not observed, and the media reporting is limited to those that does not criticize the regime. While sanctions remain, the economy does not completely collapse due to limited financial support, illicit business, and investments and development of some mining sectors by China and some other interested neighbors.

Though some policy makers and academics provide this third scenario as a future scenario, but we strongly believe this third scenario-fragmented Rough Governance- is already in place in Afghanistan.

As it relates to our ENGAGEMENT with the Taliban, we have 3 options:

  1. Engagement with the Taliban based on “Wait and See Approach”;
  2. Engagement with the Taliban based on The Taliban ‘s own Terms and Condition”; and
  3. Engagement with the Taliban based on International Community’s own Unified Terms and Conditions”.


In our view, the only pragmatic and viable engagement option with the Taliban, is the third option.


As it relates to our RECOMMENDATIONS, we propose the following:

  1. The international community must assume a common stance on their Terms and Conditions when engaging with the Taliban.
  2. The international community must define to the Taliban what they mean by the formation of an inclusive Government. For Taliban inclusivity means having only male and ethnic members of their own Taliban group in the government. Inclusivity for them does not include women, other ethnic, and political leaders, and civil society members.
  3. The international community must come up with an approach how to combine their soft and hard powers and utilize it as “Smart Power”.
  4. In view of the fact that most foreign diplomatic missions with the exception of four countries have left Afghanistan, and there are not many governmental monitoring entities left in the country; and aligned with resolution extension of UNAMA Mission till march of next year as well as with the appointment of a UN Special Rapporteur to monitor the situation of human rights as it develops in Afghanistan, we propose the establishment of a Special Afghanistan Monitoring Unit (SAMU) for Afghanistan. Under the UN, SAMU will allow the international community and regional countries to monitor the Taliban’s actions and strengthen the utility of the humanitarian and financial corridor for Afghanistan. Furthermore, beside monitoring the humanitarian evacuation process and human rights protection, SAMU could support the resumption of intra-Afghan negotiations to discuss the future political roadmap of Afghanistan in accordance with the UN Resolutions 2513.
  5. There are two probable soft power options to exert pressure on the Taliban to accept SAMU as the UN and international community’s terms and conditions. Also, by supporting the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s Government (IRoA) in exile, its ratified constitution and recognized diplomatic representations abroad (especially safeguarding the IRoA’s permanent seat at the UN, IRoA’s military arm (The National Resistance Front), and IRoA’s consensus building arm (The High Council of National Resistance), this could be used to exert pressure on the Taliban to come back to the peace negotiations where it was left off to form an inclusive government.

Now, I will talk about the reasons as to why the Taliban governance is deemed illegitimate by employing the following international law litmus tests:

1.       Art. 2, paragraph. 4 of the UN Charter, prohibits the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State and is inconsistent with the purposes of the UN. As an established practice, the UN, and the international community, with considerable conviction, refused to recognize a government that is created by the illegal use of force and/or supported directly or indirectly by a belligerent occupier. Under these circumstances, an existing representative government that had to flee the country is protected by international law against illegal invasion, intervention and/or force. So, there exists a strong presumption that a government forced from its state’s territory is representative of that State and its people. This presumption will usually operate until such time as the people themselves can again freely decide on their future government. Therefore, the international community due to these legal reasons, has instead continued to recognize the last incumbent government.

2.       A government that is without a binding agreement and becomes dependent in matters of financial, logistic, military, intelligence, and political on other States, has no legal independence is deemed illegitimate.

3.       A government cannot be established by a mere proclamation that has taken power by force & violated the living constitution of an elected government. Legitimate government must have a ratified constitution, functional institutions inside the territory, and diplomatically recognized missions abroad for delivery of services, and more importantly, must possess sovereignty and independence.

4.       A government that is in contrary to legal traditions and values of the population in the country and tries to obliterate an existing and functional system of jurisprudence that has governed, and guided public and private affairs of its population based on rule of law and legal due process, is deemed illegitimate.

5.       A government that is devoid of substantial representative character, both formal and factual, cannot be recognized as the legitimate government of a State, especially if it has taken power by force from an elected representative government of the state.

6.       A government that has no respect for human rights, particularly minorities rights as well as women and girls’ rights, and is guilty of massive human rights violation or even genocide of its own people, forfeits its right to represent the people and as a government despite having control over the territory is deemed illegitimate.

7.       A government that does not respect the principle of racial equality and non-discrimination where its composition is made of predominantly of one ethnicity (93 percent being all Pashtuns) or one creed (98 percent being Sunni) or one gender (100 percent being male) violates the rights of self-determination.

8.       A government where most of its prominent figures are known and listed as terrorists and/or affiliated with terrorist organizations (78 percent being on the UN sanction list or US blacklist) and gets direct or indirect support from terrorist sponsored states, pose a huge counterterrorism challenge, and thus deemed illegitimate by the international community.

9.       A government that can’t provide basic services to its population & is not even committed to address the most important challenges, doesn’t possess performance legitimacy.

We have reached the last part of my talk. Using the Structural (Macro) school of Political Science, now I will give you my own analysis of the transformation of the international system in 21st century.

The 21st century’s international system, which is comprised of structures such as states, non-state actors, international organizations, multinational corporations, and NGOs, contextually and normatively changed with 9/11 attack, where in response the US declared the “War Against Terror”. However, after the signing of the Doha Agreement and the taking over of power by Taliban, where engagement with the Taliban is in inevitable, the War Against Terror has changed to Engage with Terror, that is to engage with instruments of terror namely the Taliban that are no longer non-state actors, but a pseudo state in charge of Afghanistan territory. Since, engagement is inevitable with the Taliban, which ultimately might lead to legitimacy and recognition of the Taliban, this will embolden other terrorist organizations in north Africa and elsewhere to topple other elected representative and constitutional governments. In fact, recently Tahrik-e Taliban Pakistan (the Pakistani Taliban) have asked the Pakistani government to allow them to officially open their office and demanded that the Pakistani regime should become a true Islamic state just like of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

By devaluating the binding character of the Status of Force Agreement (SOFA), that is an agreement between a host country and a foreign nation stationing military force in that country (the US signed a Bilateral Strategic Agreement as well as NATO, EU, and other countries with the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan), the utility of SOFA becomes questionable. In other words, by replacing binding agreements with a conditional agreement (Doha Agreement) signed with a terrorist organization, this sets a new precedent for the 21st century international system that binding agreements, legal conventions, international agreements, and treaties unilaterally could become null and void by a hegemon and other powerful states, alliances, and international organizations.

Another element that will transform the 21st century international system has to do with the question of effective control of the territory of country by a government that is being run by terrorist organizations such as the Taliban, which does not believe in a bureaucracy. Though the Taliban by using the 1933 Montevideo Convention of Rights and Duties of States claim that since they have fulfilled all the requirements of a state of having: 1. Permanent population; 2. Defined territory; 3.  A government capable of maintaining effective control of territory; and 4. Conducting international relations with other states, they should be diplomatically recognized, but having effective control without a bureaucracy becomes questionable. The Taliban do not represent a state, nation nor a government due to their traditional, non-bureaucratic, factional, and local accommodations.

The 21st century international system will witness antiquated, historical, religious, denominational, and zealot expansionist aspirations and claim to territory by non-state and state actors under the title of Caliphate, Emirate, Ottomanize, Persian etc. This will change the regional dynamics of power and political geography.

In this century, the role and utility of international organizations such as the UN will become far more watered down by hegemon’s decisions and other emergent powers around the world. The signing of the Doha Agreement followed by the UN Security Resolution 2513 as well as NATO and EU seal of approval is indicative of the fact that UN, NATO, and EU must revisit the past and ensure that the balance of power in the international system will be maintained. Otherwise, the utility and credibility of international organizations will deteriorate further. Furthermore, with the US unilateral withdrawal announcement from Afghanistan, where NATO and EU members where not consulted accordingly followed by the Aukus Pact, the adoption of the Bandwagoning approach, where weaker members of alliances and regional unions of states become necessary to coalesce their views and resources to confront the hegemon and to avoid the imbalance of power in the international system.

The 21st century international system has taken another blow by states that once supported the ideals and values such as democracy, human rights, rule of law, constitutionalism, and open market system, now have abandoned nations and states that followed their policies of nation and state building, liberalization and democratization as seen in Afghanistan. Their puerile reductionist claims of getting involved in Afghanistan was just to defeat Al Qaeda and kill its leader! Surely, this sort of opportunistic abandonment and reductionism will discourage other nations and democratic movements, especially Bigger Middle East and North Africa (BMENA) countries to not trust the call for liberalization and democratization by the hegemon and other powerful states, international organizations, and alliances around the world.

As the hegemon and some other powerful nations regroup and refocus their strategic efforts to other parts of the world, the role of multinational corporations and nongovernmental institutions on behalf of these states will become far more important in abandoned parts of the world such as Afghanistan to confront states such as China, Russia, Pakistan, UAE etc., which are pursuing their strategic aspiration such as exploitation of underground and water resources, and regional connectivity projects etc.

Another major transformation that began in early part of this century and shall continue is the role of regional alliances and organizations such as Shanghai, SARCC, ECO, APEC, ASEAN, CAREC etc. in the region. This is deemed as a viable alternative to create a balance of power as it relates to the role of NATO and EU by some countries in the region. Under the umbrella of these alliances and organizations, Russia, China, India, Iran, Central Asian countries and some other natural and near neighbors of Afghanistan will become major stakeholder and powers that shall confront the interest of the US, EU, and other western countries in Afghanistan and in the region.

One of the most threatening transformation of the 21st century is going to occur in area of the conventional warfare has to do with the fact that now that Taliban insurgency has changed to a government, by creation of Martyrdom Military Brigades, suicide bombings and other terrorist warfare tactic will become institutionalized as viable method in combat against all internal and external enemies. The suicide bombing method is going to be employed by other totalitarian regime’s defense and security forces in the region.

In CONCLUSION, I would like to say to all our allies, especially to the US that Americas’ longest war has not ended, because the second and most complex phase of this war on terror has just begun. The US and her allies might have abandoned Afghanistan and its entire population, but unfortunately transnational terrorism will not abandon them. Therefore, we must be fully prepared to have a viable engagement plan based on our own terms and conditions with the Taliban to avoid the occurrence of the most the most probable scenario—the Collapse and Civil War—in Afghanistan as well as address the current and future challenges of the 21st century, specially as it relates to terror, terrorism and terrorist organization on utilizing “Smart Power” and Bandwagoning to avoid imbalance of power by hegemon and other powerful states in the world.  

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