The Taliban and Central Asia
Although the relationship between Afghanistan and Central Asia started with confrontation and confusion, it has evolved into a cooperation based on shared norms.
The collapse of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in August 2021 directly impacted the country’s Central Asian neighbors from the very beginning. When the Taliban took Kabul, Afghanistan’s former President Ashraf Ghani fled to Uzbekistan; however, Tashkent’s strained relationship with Ghani resulted in his subsequent transfer to Abu Dhabi.
During this time, over 50 members of the Afghan Air Force fled in their planes. Some landed in Tajikistan and more touched down in Termez, Uzbekistan. The Taliban demanded the return of the planes, but Uzbekistan, in particular, handed them over to the United States instead, insisting they were U.S. property.
“An Afghan man and children sell Taliban flags on a street during a celebration marking the second anniversary of the withdrawal of U.S.-led troops from Afghanistan, in Kandahar, south of Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 15, 2023.”