This is a hybrid politics/international law question and it’s posted here for convenience.

Everyday interactions would include border crossings, postal services, telecommunications, airspace navigation and visits, banking, staffing of UN agencies and other foreign offices resident in Afghanistan, etc.

Notably, since August 2021, several countries have even sent officials, on publicly announced visits to Taliban leaders without anyone switching.

Remarkably, it seems that most, if not all, countries still officially maintain the previous administration as the official government almost a year later, at least there are no public denunciations that I could find.

Especially, it doesn’t seem credible that border crossings, internet, satellite and phoneline connections, bank wires, aircraft landing permits, postal services, and so on could be carried out for almost a year without someone, somewhere, signing a document that assumes the authority of some agency or representative of the Taliban.

The only way I can see to square the circle would be if there's a mysterious roundabout way of avoiding this on the official paperwork (communications, agreements, etc.) and in on the record meetings.

How are countries who have interactions avoiding the obvious?

In the case that they accept the obvious but nonetheless refuse recognition, what do they gain from admitting dozens, if not hundreds, of Taliban representatives and agencies hold real authority while denying it for the overall government?

  • border crossings: Look at a map and check which countries neighbor Afghanistan, internet: You are talking about the physical connection, right? See the previous point., satellite: I doubt that Afghanistan owns any satellites, the Afghan government isn't involved in private satellite connections. phoneline connections: see neighboring countries, bank wires: a private affair, I'm not sure If I as a EU citizen could even wire money there if I wanted to do that, aircraft landing permits: very few airlines fly there (from Germany the only connection appears to be with a Turkish airline), ...
    – Roland
    Commented Aug 17, 2022 at 5:16
  • @Roland The lines of communication may be much sparser than for an ordinary country, but even one document should be proof enough for the Taliban to wave around.
    – M. Y. Zuo
    Commented Aug 17, 2022 at 15:17
  • Are there no embassies operating in Kabul? Commented Aug 17, 2022 at 16:00
  • @RodrigodeAzevedo I believe there are several in Kabul operating as embassies in every practical way.
    – M. Y. Zuo
    Commented Aug 17, 2022 at 16:21
  • "The only way I can see to square the circle..." The circle doesn't need to be squared in all cases. It could also be that there is no interaction taking place and people just do not phone with Afghanistan, fly over Afghanistan or accept internet traffic to/from Afghanistan. Only if they do all these it kind of becomes interesting, but they could also simply choose not to do it instead. Commented Aug 17, 2022 at 18:37

1 Answer 1


Same as it works for Taiwan, Palestine and the various disputed territories: "recognition" is a very high level process.

The implications can be complicated. That paper argues that merely speaking to and even forming agreements does not rise to the level of "recognizing". It's a political statement. It doesn't even require countries to pretend that the Taliban isn't the government of Afghanistan. It's just a question of whether it's the legitimate government.

  • When a government authorizes forming agreements with an entity they themselves do not maintain to be legitimate, aren’t they undermining themselves? By discrediting their own scruples, morals, claims, etc.
    – M. Y. Zuo
    Commented Aug 17, 2022 at 16:18
  • "Same as it works for Taiwan, Palestine and the various disputed territories" How does it work for them? Maybe can some details be given for one of these? Like for example Palestine, if I want to phone to/from Palestine, what do I call and who is getting/paying the bill? Do airlines fly over Palestine? Commented Aug 17, 2022 at 18:42
  • That seems quite googleable: they have a national telco, and some specific agreements with Israel to license the 3G spectrum imemc.org/article/73932
    – pjc50
    Commented Aug 18, 2022 at 9:23
  • Palestine and Taiwan are not members of ICAO: icao.int/memberstates/member%20states.english.pdf ; this doesn't matter for Palestine since Israel destroyed their only airport, but flights to Taiwan are quite routine, presumably under individual agreements between the carriers and the country.
    – pjc50
    Commented Aug 18, 2022 at 9:28
  • Many countries accept Taiwanese passports for airport entry; it is, after all, their choice as to whether to admit people or not, including under various other sorts of travel document that aren't passports or refugees without passports at all. However it is notable that due to Chinese influence at the UN, the UN itself does not let you in on one intaiwan.net/2015/09/21/…
    – pjc50
    Commented Aug 18, 2022 at 9:30

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