Seeing all the news of embassies evacuating out of Afghanistan made me wonder - what were the foreign relations of Taliban before the 2001 war? I can tell the US Consulate was shutdown in 1989, the British consulate in 1995, the Pakistani one in 1995 as well (although the Wiki article isn't completely clear on this). New York times reports about an Iranian consulate in a part of Afghanistan controlled by Taliban's opponents, making it seem like Iran did not have foreign relations with Taliban itself:

The dead diplomats were among 11 Iranians working at a consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif, a northern town that was the headquarters of an Iranian-backed rebel alliance until it was overrun by the Taliban on Aug. 8. Iranian officials had accused Taliban leaders of ordering that the consulate be captured, but had held out hope that all of the missing diplomats might still be alive.

The wiki article on Foreign relations of Afghanistan mentions that the Taliban government quickly became alienated due to Sharia law enforcement but nothing on diplomatic relations? The context of this question is trying to understand if the Taliban would become a fully isolated country after they inevitably recapture Kabul (similar to Turkmenistan or North Korea) or a somewhat open one similar to Pakistan or Iran.

  • There is a distinction between breaking diplomatic relationship and maintaining an embassy (let alone consulates). I thought Pakistan did maintain formal relationships until 2001. The UAE possibly did too. Nowadays I would expect Qatar to play a role but that wasn't necessarily the case in the late 1990s.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Aug 14, 2021 at 14:19
  • Also, it should be noticed, that Taliban already made two foreign visits - to Moscow and Beijing. So, it's unlikely to be isolated. Commented Aug 14, 2021 at 14:20
  • @Relaxed question updated Commented Aug 14, 2021 at 14:21

1 Answer 1


According to Wikipedia:

Saudi Arabia was also the second of only three countries to recognize the Taliban government, extending official recognition on 26 May 1997, one day after Pakistan and shortly before the United Arab Emirates.

I'm not sure on the level relations beyond that initial recognition. The BBC adds:

Pakistan was also one of only three countries, along with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which recognised the Taliban when they were in power in Afghanistan. It was also the last country to break diplomatic ties with the group.

However it doesn't say exactly when the latter (breaking off relations) happened. According to an old PBS article, Saudi Arabia formally broke ties with the Taliban on Sep 25, 2001 for "supporting terrorists" etc. However, PBS noted that the Taliban embassy in Riyadh had remained opened that day. Irish Times reported however that it was closed the next day, Sep 26, and that Riyadh had given the Taliban representatives 48 hours to leave the country. It wasn't until Nov 23, 2001 that the New York Times reported that the Taliban embassy in Pakistan was closed.

According to an article in The Diplomat:

Even though Saudi Arabia renounced its diplomatic support for the Taliban in the days leading up to the 2001 war in Afghanistan, the Saudi monarchy continued to allow private donors residing in the kingdom to financially assist the Taliban. Saudi Arabia’s support for the Taliban has consisted of financial donations from prominent Wahhabi businessmen and political elites, and Riyadh’s facilitation of the Taliban’s efforts to extract tax revenues from Pashtun guest workers residing in the kingdom.

The Saudis apparently saw it necessary to do this as a "check against rising Iranian influence in Afghanistan'.

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