Leaders of the G7 nations are set to meet today via video conference to discuss the tumult in Afghanistan and the challenges facing the West now with that nation under Taliban control. According to sources, one goal of the conference will be to reach a consensus on the matter of whether to recognize the Taliban government or apply sanctions on it. Yet the most crucial matter to be discussed will be the upcoming 31 August deadline that had been set by the United States for the withdrawal of military forces. France, Germany and Great Britain have publicly talked about a need to extend that deadline in order to make certain an orderly exit from Afghanistan occurs. These nations are already applying pressure on the Biden administration on the matter and is expected to continue in the upcoming conference. The Taliban consider the withdrawal date to be a red line and have warned against the prospect of the US extending the deadline. Still, the Biden administration is in talks behind the scenes with the Taliban. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan has said the administration is “engaging with the Taliban, consulting with the Taliban on every aspect of what’s happening in Kabul right now.”
The Taliban hasn’t been amenable to the prospect of an extended deadline date and are warning of consequences if the West attempts to do so. “It’s a red line. President Biden announced that on Aug. 31 they would withdraw all their military forces. So if they extend it, that means they are extending occupation while there is no need for that,” Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said in an interview with Sky News.
This is where the carrot and stick approach might come in handy for the G7. They could extend an offer of recognition to the Taliban in exchange for extending the deadline and keeping Kabul’s airport open for evacuation flights. On the flip side there would be an implied threat of sanctions in the event the 31 August date remains inflexible.