Alongside upending Afghanistan, the Taliban’s return to power in Kabul in 2021 challenged regional governments. The restoration of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA)’s countrywide control—the group’s second national administration, having been in power between 1996 and 2001—has confronted Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members with questions over how to respond. Traditionally neutral and diplomacy-focused Oman has taken a cautious approach, while urging constructive engagement.
History of caution
Muscat has a history of wariness towards the Taliban. During the 1990s, Oman refrained from joining regional partners Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in formally recognizing the IEA. Moreover, in the years following the US-led invasion that toppled Taliban rule in 2001, the Sultanate supported a series of western-backed governments in Kabul. Although never publicly acknowledged, Oman reportedly allowed US missions in Afghanistan to be...
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