The Taliban has now held power over Afghanistan for nearly three months, yet it's the former US-backed Afghan national government that's still being represented to the United Nations in New York, creating a tense diplomatic showdown with the Taliban, which is vying for official recognition to take the seat.
The ousted government of former President Ashraf Ghani, who fled the country in August amid the rapid Taliban advance on Kabul, is still being represented by Amb. Ghulam Isaczai. For now he's continuing to act as Afghanistan's ambassador, while the Taliban's nomination for the position, Suhail Shaheeen, has been waiting on the sidelines.
Bloomberg describes that the standoff looks to continue unresolved for at least the near future: "At a meeting this month, a UN committee that includes China, Russia, and the US is widely expected to punt on rival requests for diplomatic representation - one from the UN ambassador of the deposed Afghan government and another from the Taliban."
The committee has nine members who've expressed a desire to see Afghanistan stabilized, and for the Taliban to enact reforms - specifically promises it's previously made such as upholding human rights for all including women and girls, as well as combatting terrorism.
Both Russia and China have appeared more ready to recognize the Taliban government, maintaining increased communications with the Islamist rulers, and with the latter opening up trade and investment ties. But Washington has so far refused to bestow official legitimacy, keeping Taliban assets abroad under sanction, and only recently authorizing the resumption of humanitarian aid into the war-torn country.
As for Russia, as spokesman was quoted last week: "No-one is in a hurry to recognize the Taliban as Afghanistan's government, Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said on Friday, signaling that Moscow is not ready to allow the Islamists to represent Afghanistan at the United Nations."
"The primary thing today is to stabilize the country," Nebezia added in the statement. "The economy is on the verge of collapse with the lack of any resources, which are frozen and are not being released anytime soon, judging by the statements that we hear."
But in its latest report Bloomberg underscores the Taliban is hamstrung by the lack of UN recognition, given this translates to not receiving badly needed aid from international institutions - the World Bank and International Monetary Fund being prime examples:
The Taliban is facing a cash crunch after the U.S. and its partners froze Afghanistan’s access to more than $9 billion in overseas assets, mostly central bank reserves held in American banks. The Biden administration has rejected appeals from Russia and China to release the assets as the situation worsens. On Nov. 3, the Taliban banned the use of foreign currencies and ordered the public to use local currency in a bid to ease the crisis.
Finally settling the UN ambassador post dilemma in favor of the Taliban would essentially mean international and Western acknowledgement that the Taliban is there to stay. But this is the very thing that many powerful countries are as yet unwilling to do.