By Kawe Kerami, PhD Student in Development Studies, SOAS, University of London,
London, July 27 (The Conversation) The Taliban are generally described as a group of bearded, turban men inspired by fundamentalist Islamic ideology and responsible for widespread violence. But to understand the group that is about to take back power in Afghanistan, and what we can expect from their regime, we need a more nuanced picture.
First, it is important to understand the origins of the Taliban during the Cold War in the 1980s. The Afghan guerrillas, known as the Mojahedin, waged an almost decade-long war against Soviet occupation. They were funded and provided by many outside powers, including the United States.
In 1989 the Soviet Union withdrew and this marked the beginning of the collapse of the Afghan government which was heavily dependent on them. In 1992, a Mujahedin government was formed, which faced bloody internal strife in the capital.
The unfavorable ground conditions prepared a fertile ground for the formation of the Taliban. An Islamic fundamentalist group dominated by the ethnic Pashtun group, the Taliban are said to have appeared for the first time in extremist religious seminars funded by Saudi Arabia in northern Pakistan in the early 1990s.
Some of them were fighters of the Mujahedin against the Soviet Union. In 1994, the Taliban launched a military operation from southern Afghanistan. In 1996, the group occupied the Afghan capital Kabul without resistance.
life under the taliban
For those affected by the war in Afghanistan, the Taliban’s promise to restore security and order on the one hand and fight corruption on the other hand was appealing. But it also came at a very high and sometimes unbearable price: severe punishments such as public executions, the closure of girls’ schools (from the age of ten), the ban on television and the explosion of historic statues of Buddha.
The group’s logic stems from mixing a fundamentalist view of Islam with Afghan traditions.
At the height of the Taliban regime (1999), not a single girl was enrolled in secondary school and only 4% of eligible people (9,000) attended primary school. Today, around 35 lakh girls go to school.
After the Taliban refused to hand over those responsible for the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the country came under attack in a US-led attack, with many Taliban men fled to escape capture and reportedly reportedly refugees in Quetta, Pakistan. This later led to the formation of the “Quetta Shura,” the Taliban’s governing council, which guides the insurgency in Afghanistan.
The short-lived enthusiasm after the invasion ended when the Taliban began to regroup in 2004 and launched a bloody insurgency against the new Afghan government, which left at least 170,000 dead, including 51,613 civilians. now.
By 2021, the rebel group has around 75,000 fighters and its rebel machinery operates with foreign funding (from governments and private donors) as well as taxation, extortion, and the illegal drug economy in Canada. local level.
There are several reasons for the Taliban’s resurgence, including a lack of post-intervention strategy, the detrimental effects of a foreign military campaign, a corrupt and incompetent government in Kabul, and a growing dependence on it. foreign financial and military aid and regional rivalry. included.
Now the United States has made a deal with the Taliban and is withdrawing from the country. This poses a major threat to the very existence of the fragile political system since 2001, which largely receives funding and patronage from abroad.
what is the next?
The US-Taliban deal has raised some hope for the prospect of a political settlement that could end the long war and reduce the chances of Afghanistan once again becoming a haven for terrorists. But peace efforts appear to have lost momentum after an unconditional withdrawal of US troops.
Now the Taliban are beating the drums of victory and appearing to be preparing to reinstate their “forced into exile” regime in late 2001. Estimates suggest that the group has captured more than half of Afghanistan’s 400 districts, unlike their claim to occupy 85% of the territory. However, the United States has warned that it will not recognize the Taliban regime that is to be established in Kabul following the military takeover.
But that alone is not likely to prevent the Taliban from taking over the capital, however likely if the group is successful, no one knows where it will get the money to run its government. Interestingly, the Taliban have improved their relations with neighboring countries like Iran, Russia, and some Central Asian countries that once opposed their regimes in the 1990s.
The group likely intends to find a regional alternative to help the United States and its allies, as well as try to prevent a resurgence of the Northern Alliance’s anti-Taliban resistance force, otherwise it will seek financial and military support from these countries.
When it comes to women’s rights, freedom of the press, elections, and other freedoms guaranteed by the 2004 constitution (at least in writing), the Taliban have often said they want a “true Islamic system,” which aligns with the Afghan tradition, but it’s unclear exactly what this means and how different it will be from their previous rule (1996-2001).
In a statement, the Taliban recently said they would make it easier for women to work and educate women, despite their actions in the late 1990s. Despite this apparent change, the Taliban are still building a society that fears urban young Afghans, based on their strict interpretations of Islam. They fear that due to gender segregation, they will no longer be able to share school or work, go out to dinner with their friends of the opposite sex, or wear whatever they want.
Even the Taliban’s takeover of military power may not mark the end of the war in Afghanistan. Peace and stability in multiethnic and diverse societies can only be achieved through coexistence, consensus and inclusion, not through domination and zero-level politics.
The competing interests of countries in the region could fuel growing local discontent with the Taliban (as in the late 1990s), which, in turn, would lead to an era of bloody and devastating warfare.
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