After a series of conciliatory moves, the Biden administration is trying to persuade the Taliban to make concessions in return for financial assistance. Taliban leaders are divided on how to respond, but the fact that they are talking to Washington is unnerving regional governments, especially in China and Russia, which are trying to make diplomatic and economic inroads.
- The Taliban appear confident that 1990s-style repression will not derail engagement with Washington.
- A move to rescind recent decisions such as one authorising physical punishments would be divisive, setting pragmatists against hardliners.
- Divisions within the Taliban may be reignited by failure to agree on how inclusive their government should be.