The Taliban must decide whether they want to be recognised by the international community, US President Joe Biden says, adding that he did not think the group had changed its fundamental beliefs.
Asked if he thought the Taliban had changed, Mr Biden told ABC News on Thursday, “No.”
“I think they’re going through a sort of existential crisis about: Do they want to be recognised by the international community as being a legitimate government? I’m not sure they do,” he said, adding that the group appeared more committed to its beliefs.
The insurgency, which outlasted a combined US-led international force and the now-defunct Western-backed Afghan government in 20 years of war, will now face different problems, he predicted.
While the Taliban is motivated by a powerful Islamist agenda, “they also care about whether they have food to eat, whether they have an income that they can provide… and run an economy,” Mr Biden said.
“They care about whether or not they can hold together the society that they in fact say they care so much about.
“I’m not counting on any of that.”
The US president, who defended the chaotic exit of the final US troops, foreigners and Afghan allies after the Taliban victory, said he was “not counting” on the Taliban to shift their priorities.
On the other hand, “I’m not sure I would have predicted” the current scenes where Taliban leaders are cooperating with the US military to ensure safe passage to the evacuation for American citizens, he said.
Should anti-US terrorism groups like al-Qaeda reestablish themselves in a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, the United States retains “an over-the-horizon capability to take them out,” Mr Biden said, referring to missile and other long-distance military strikes.
For now the threat is far greater in places like Syria and east Africa “than it is from the mountains of Afghanistan,” he said.
‘Military force’ not the way to protect women’s rights
Mr Biden added that it would take economic and diplomatic pressure – not military force – to ensure women’s rights after the Taliban takeover.
“The idea that we’re able to deal with the rights of women around the world by military force is not rational,” Mr Biden said in the ABC News interview.
Referring to the Uighur ethnic minority in China and other areas of the world facing extreme human rights abuses, Mr Biden said “the way to deal with that is not with a military invasion”.
“There are a lot of places where women are being subjugated,” he said. “The way to deal with that is putting economic, diplomatic and international pressure on them to change their behaviour.”
He told ABC that many women were trying to leave Afghanistan through the US evacuation at Kabul’s airport.
The president said he told advisors to “get them out, get their families out.”
“As many as we can get out we should,” he said.