The Taliban sees the UN as a path to gain global recognition, sanctions relief and international aid assistance, but it is the West that holds the trump card.

The United States completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan last month, the Taliban claimed victory and is now in charge of some 40 million people.

A month later, the group established its government, but it came with a series of major crises that they now have to deal with.

In this moment of upheaval, world powers now have leverage over the Taliban and its pursuit of legitimacy.

So the Taliban, in a bid to get international recognition, sanctions relief and international assistance to run the country, made a request to address world leaders at the United Nations in New York this week. The group also nominated their spokesman Suhail Shaheen as Afghanistan's UN ambassador.

This request was made by Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi in a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday and asked to speak during the annual high-level meeting of the General Assembly.

The move set up a face-off with Ghulam Isaczai, the UN ambassador in New York representing Afghanistan's previous government.

Guterres' spokesperson, Farhan Haq, said the rival requests for Afghanistan's UN seat is sent to a nine-member credentials committee, whose members include the United States, China and Russia. 

But the committee is unlikely to decide before Monday, the last day of the annual high-level meeting of the General Assembly, so it's unlikely the Taliban foreign minister will address the world body.

However, foreign powers must decide whether the newly formed Afghan government, that remains on terrorist watch lists around the world, should get international recognition as an urgent humanitarian crisis unfolds in Afghanistan, analysts say

"The 1.2 billion dollars pledged in Geneva needs to be spent on humanitarian issues, but the Taliban lack international recognition as well as the human capital in their regime to manage such an undertaking," Hameed Hakimi, a research associate at London's Chatham House told TRT World.

Countries such as China, Russia and the regional economies cannot become an alternative source of funding for a donor-driven economy which the Taliban need in order to run a functioning administration, Hameed said, adding that western donor nations are irreplaceable in that regard, which gives these nations leverage over the Taliban.

"In my judgment the international donors, particularly the US-led western nations, would not be keen to grant the Taliban recognition or a UN seat at this stage. These countries know their leverage against the Taliban lies primarily in the donors’ ability to open the aid taps, or to close them, for Afghanistan."

The UN, the US and other western countries have called on the Taliban to form an inclusive government, including regional countries such as Pakistan, China and Russia, representing women and the country’s ethnic and religious minorities in order to be considered for international recognition.

Last week, Pakistan’s national security adviser called on the world to “engage” with the Taliban's government.

Only three countries officially granted the Taliban regime diplomatic recognition during their rule between 1996 to 2001: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The previous mujahideen government under Burhanuddin Rabbani who served as President of Afghanistan from 1992 to 2001 (in exile from 1996 to 2001) retained the country’s UN seat and other embassies.

On Tuesday, the ruling emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, whose nation has played a pivotal role in Afghanistan in the wake of the US withdrawal, stressed on the importance of continuing dialogue with Taliban.

"Because boycott only leads to polarisation and reactions, whereas dialogue could bring in positive results," he said.

Why should the Taliban care about international recognition?

International recognition includes diplomatic immunities, which could mean that the current sanction on Taliban leaders could be lifted and they can travel outside the country without getting arrested.

But a Taliban seat at the UN, however, might not provide their regime with a silver bullet to crawl out of international isolation and remove sanctions, Hameed argues.

"North Korea and Iran have representations at the UN but that does not mean automatic relief from sanctions," he said.

Though UN credentials does give weight to a government around the world.

The United States froze $9.5 billion in Afghan central bank assets and international lenders have stayed clear of Afghanistan, if the US recognises the Taliban, the group can also get access to Afghanistan’s assets in the US. 

Also, for years the Taliban have been consistent in their messaging that they do not want to run a "pariah regime," Hameed said, but their main challenge continues to be their long, difficult and at times seemingly impossible transformation from an insurgency to a functioning state. 

"The Taliban are very keen for a UN seat because of the platform it will give them to project their counter-narrative, their side of the story," Hameed said. 

"And to also make demands at the microphones installed by the international media at the heart of an institution where the world’s nations are represented."

For now, Isaczai will remain in the UN seat, until a decision is made by the credentials committee, according to the General Assembly rules. He is currently set to address the body on the final day of the meeting on September 27.

Source: TRT World