The Taliban’s celebratory gunfire crackled over Kabul as the West pulled out this week. But militancy alone is likely to leave the Taliban on its own — globally isolated, with millions of Afghans facing an even more uncertain future. The world’s powers are now scrambling to exert influence amid the return of the country’s Islamist rulers. And in the process two nations from the Arab and Muslim world have been emerging as key mediators and facilitators — Qatar and Turkey. Both are capitalising on a recent history of access to the Taliban. Both eye opportunities. But both are taking a gamble too — which could even stoke old rivalries further afield, in the Middle East. Officials in the small, gas-rich state of Qatar in the Gulf have provided the lifeline for countries trying to exit.