(Natural News) The fall of the Afghan government and the takeover of the country by the Taliban has stirred concerns in countries within the region and beyond. Neighbors fear that the instability engulfing the country could spill over, while others as far as Europe fear a possible tide of refugees.
Neighboring Pakistan fears that more refugees will try to cross the border between both countries. This will add to the existing 3 million Afghan refugees already living there because of previous violence. Meanwhile, China fears that Islamic fundamentalism could seep in from Afghanistan into its Xinjiang province, which shares a roughly 50-mile-long border with Afghanistan.
This is despite both governments have maintained ties with the Taliban.
Neighbors wary of Taliban takeover
Talking to his British counterpart on Sunday, Aug. 15, Pakistani foreign minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, stated: “[The] situation in Afghanistan required the international community’s consistent engagement with the Afghan leaders to ensure a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.”
Pakistan is considered the country with the most influence over the Taliban. The group’s leadership has been based in the country ever since its regime was ousted by the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan.
Despite this, Pakistan has denied that it supports the Taliban.
China is another country seen as maintaining ties with Taliban leadership. Back in July, it hosted Taliban political chief Mulla Abdul Ghani Baradar for talks near the northeastern Chinese city of Tianjin and has criticized Washington’s policy in Afghanistan as destabilizing.
But China’s relationship with the Taliban has been contentious at best, thanks to the former’s own issues dealing with Islamic fundamentalism among Uyghurs in its northwestern province of Xinjiang. To this end, Beijing has continually demanded that the Taliban refrain from hosting any Uyghur groups on their territory.
“It was the primary reason for Beijing to meet Mullah Mohammed Omar in 2000, and it’ll still be on top of China’s concern list after Taliban’s Sunday takeover,” says Andrew Small of the German Marshall Fund in Berlin.
“If the Taliban continues to support Uyghur militants and provide them with protection, China will be less keen to help legitimize the Taliban regime in return,” said Yun Sun, a senior fellow at Stimson Centre. “Being recognized internationally is what the Taliban will clearly be seeking after it takes power.”
Countries facing an influx of Afghan refugees
Further west, countries are raising concerns over the number of refugees who might make their way to their borders.
“We are facing a wave of Afghan migrants through Iran,” said Turkey’s President Recip Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday, Aug. 15.
Turkey has been hardening its border with Iran. On Saturday, Aug. 14, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar inspected some of their newly built fortifications.
Meanwhile, a number of smaller European countries have already started accepting refugees. Both Albania and Kosovo have accepted an American request to temporarily host political refugees seeking entry to the U.S.
“I am devastated to see people left behind and want to give them at least the possibility to breathe again,” said Albanian Prime Minister, Edi Rama, to the Guardian. “We know what it’s like to live under a dictatorship and what it’s like to be a foreigner seeking shelter somewhere. It’s about who we are; it’s an honor and a duty to do this.”
Not all European states are as welcoming. On Sunday, Aug. 15, Austria said that it would continue its policy of deporting rejected Afghan asylum seekers. The country was among six E.U. states that insisted that its right to deport failed Afghan refugees should be maintained. But three of those countries have since changed course, with Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands stating that they would suspend deportations. (Related: Preview of things to come in America: Refugees fight over food in Europe’s version of a FEMA camp.)
In response, Austrian Interior Minister, Karl Nehammer, stated that banning deportations was “a pull factor for illegal migration which only fuels the inconsiderate and cynical business of smugglers and organized crime.”
For more on the impending Afghan refugee crisis, follow OpenBorders.news.