The Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan on the 20th anniversary of 9/11 is deeply painful for the United States, NATO, and many Afghans. In 2001, the United States overthrew the Taliban regime to defeat al-Qaeda, a goal it largely achieved. But the United States also sought to defeat the Taliban and leave behind a pluralistic Afghan state that respects human rights and is economically sustainable. You have failed in those goals. There have been many errors and problems in the international effort, but most importantly the United States He never succeeded in bringing about good governance in Afghanistan or persuading Pakistan to stop it Multi-faceted support for the Taliban. Afghan leaders consistently put their own narrow and corrupt self-interests ahead of the national interest. mismanagement rot Hollow up the Afghan security forces Which the United States spent 20 years building at the expense of About 88 billion dollars.
But will the Taliban be able to maintain themselves in power? The answer depends on how it deals with and prevents armed opposition to its rule, management of the country’s economy and relations with external actors.
The most significant threat to the Taliban regime may come from within. The Taliban’s success as an insurgency depends on their ability to maintain cohesion despite NATO efforts to dismantle the group. But the challenge for the group to maintain cohesion across many different factions with diverse ideological densities and material interests is more difficult now that it is in power.
Factions have divergent views of how the new regime should govern across all dimensions of governance: totalitarianism, dealing with foreign fighters, the economy, and foreign relations. Many mid-level battlefield leaders—younger, more connected to global jihadist networks, and who have no personal experience of the Taliban’s mismanaged rule in the 1990s—are more hardline than senior national and local leaders.
Besides reconciling these differing views on politics, the Taliban will also need to ensure that its main leaders and rank-and-file soldiers retain enough income so as not to be tempted to separate. Indeed, a key element of the Taliban’s blitzkrieg this summer was its bargaining with local militias and national influencers, and their promise that the Taliban would allow them to maintain some access to local economic rents, such as mining in Badakhshan and logging in Kunar.
A potential defection of Taliban factions or foreign fighters in Afghanistan could bolster the Taliban’s main opponent, the Islamic State in Khorasan, which the Taliban have been fighting for years. ISK cannot at the moment bring down the Taliban regime. But it could become an envelope for any future rifts. Indeed, the core elements of the ISK are former Taliban leaders, and the group’s former leader, Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour (The United States killed him in 2016), they were expelled because they were too brutal, sectarian and too independent.
ISK provides many other important challenges for the Taliban.
In the areas it ruled in recent years and during the 1990s regime, the Taliban’s primary claim to performance-based legitimacy (as opposed to ideology) was their ability to provide order and suppress crime and conflict – Brutal, but an airtight and predictable system. If you fail to prevent bloody ISK attacks in urban areas, Like the one who killed 13 US soldiers and over 160 Afghans on August 26This claim will be weakened.
Continued violence would also discourage China’s economic investment in Afghanistan, as it has done (along with Afghanistan corruption) over the past decade. However, the Taliban wants and needs Chinese money.
repeatedly Attacking the Hazara Shiite minority in Afghanistan, ISK sought to incite a Sunni-Shia war in Afghanistan, something Mullah Mansour wanted to avoid. If the Taliban fail to control these attacks, their improved relations with Iran could deteriorate – all the more likely if the attacks lead to the outbreak of unbridled sectarian fighting that absorbs Taliban factions.
If the Taliban does not prevent the infiltration of anti-Shiite terrorism into Iran – from Taliban factions, foreign fighters, or ISK – Iran could try to activate Fatemiyoun units in Afghanistan. The Fatimids are Afghan Shiite fighters, numbering in the tens of thousands, trained by Iran and deployed to fight in Syria and Libya. After they return to Afghanistan, they can fight the rule of the Taliban.
These future threats are much stronger than the current threats Small, weak, divided and trapped Anti-Taliban opposition from Ahmed Masoud and Amrullah Saleh in the Panjshir Valley.
Under her rule, the Taliban effectively introduced order and enforced rules, such as ensuring that Teachers appeared to teach When it allowed schools to operate and government employees did not steal supplies from clinics. The Taliban also gained a great deal of political capital through acceleration, not corruption, and execution Conflict Resolution (And from Protecting the poppy economy.) He excelled at taxing economic activity in Afghanistan, both legal and illegal — from NATO supply trucks to government aid programs, narcotics, and logging.
But it does not have the expertise or technocratic capacity to deliver or even just maintain other existing services such as delivering electricity or water, let alone tackling complex issues such as macroeconomic policymaking or tackling droughts.
To keep service delivery and at least stumble through those high-level political challenges, it needs technocrats and foreign aid, advisory and on the ground, as in the form of humanitarian NGOs. If her ruling is focused on purification and revenge, from her Alarming reports emergedTechnocrats will continue to flee. The Taliban can only put a lot of pressure on them To work under duress.
Moreover, if the Taliban rules with extreme brutality, international actors will continue and possibly intensify sanctions against the group. Countries and companies strive to Legally Dealing with the Taliban in Afghanistan will be deterred from doing so. Unless humanitarian exceptions to sanctions are guaranteed, even the work of NGOs can be halted.
Economy and Region
Currently, the Taliban regime is facing The loss of billions of dollars allocated to Afghanistan – from the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the United States and the European Union – while the country’s central bank reserves located in the United States have been frozen by the United States government.
The country’s illegal and informal economies can only make up part of those losses. The Taliban cannot simply double their poppy economy – the global market is already saturated with opioids, including artificial Of which. Banning poppy cultivation her promise To make Afghanistan drug-free would be a massive social explosion. Besides impoverishing people already in extreme poverty from COVID-19, drought, and economic downturns in a country where 90% of people live in poverty And 30% suffer from acute food insecurity, such a ban would also wipe out the income of middle-class Taliban leaders and rank-and-file fighters.
Even without a ban, the Taliban will struggle to find jobs for the many now unemployed soldiers from the Afghan security forces who have been paid by the United States. Even if half of the nominal force were “ghost soldiers” or died, and, say, only 150,000 soldiers fought, they were now a loose force with no income for themselves and their families. They melted before the Taliban. But with time they may resort to banditry or be tempted to join old or new militias, even if only for the sake of an economic rent.
And maintaining the Taliban’s income from trade with Iran, China and Central Asia that brought the group Hundreds of millions of dollars In informal taxes, Relies on Whether the Taliban is able to accommodate Tehran, Beijing and Moscow’s key counter-terrorism interests, which they see as far more important than any economic opportunities Afghanistan offers. If terrorist leaks are widespread, only Afghanistan’s trade with Pakistan will continue.
Moreover, outside the West, only China and the Gulf states have deep pockets of aid for anything beyond humanitarian issues. Iran busty. Pakistan provides military and intelligence aid, but its economy sways in and out of dire straits.
You may find Pakistan his victory On the Taliban victory spoils quickly. Now in power, the Taliban will be eager to ease the yoke of Pakistan from its neck and deepen the diversity of its foreign relations. The victory of the Afghan Taliban may give Supporting the Pakistani Taliban. Other countries will continue to seek to enlist Pakistan as a mediator to moderate Taliban behavior and will be unhappy when Islamabad does not succeed.
These diverse challenges lie ahead, not that the West can easily bring down the Taliban regime through sanctions or urge it to preserve political, humanitarian, and humanitarian pluralism. Women’s rights It has also been around – officially at least – for the past 20 years. Backed by illicit and informal economies and taking advantage of deep divisions among international actors, brutal regimes can exist for years even with fractured economies – see North KoreaAnd IranAnd Venezuela, or Myanmar. All-out Western sanctions and isolation will only exacerbate the terrible suffering of the Afghan people.
Instead, the West’s bargaining and engagement with the Taliban should focus on specific demands, such as Reducing the most weak suppressionFocus on secret and specific sanctions and inducements to take concrete political action in a process that will be long, complex, repetitive and turbulent.