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This article is authored by Ashome Shandilya, from Symbiosis Law School, Noida. This article is an in-depth account of the Taliban regime, in light of the Taliban having swept to victory in Afghanistan after 20 years of fighting.

Introduction

Who are the Taliban

In 1994, the Taliban, whose name means “students” in Pashto, was formed in the Kandahar region of Southern Afghanistan. Following the withdrawal of the Soviet Union and the consequent fall of the government, it was one of the forces fighting a Civil war for control of the country. As Afghans grew dissatisfied with the country’s insecurity, the Taliban rapidly captured Kandahar and seized Kabul in 1996. It was founded by so-called “mujahideen” fighters who, with the help of the US, fought Soviet forces in the 1980s. Mullah Mohammad Omar, a member of the Pashtun tribe became a mujahideen commander. In less than two years, the Taliban had seized complete control of the country, declaring an Islamic emirate in 1996 and imposing a strict interpretation of Islamic law. By 2001 the Taliban controlled all but a small section of Northern Afghanistan. Other mujahideen organisations withdrew to the country’s north. Mullah Mohammad Omar, the Taliban’s founder, and first leader went into hiding when the Taliban was deposed. Mullah Omar died in 2013, and after two years of his death, his son confirmed the news.

Five years in power (1996-2001)

The Taliban imposed a severe interpretation of Sharia law throughout their five years in power. Women were barred from working or studying, and unless accompanied by a male guardian, were restricted to their houses. Floggings and executions in public were very common, western films and books were banned, and cultural artifacts deemed blasphemous by Islam were destroyed. Burqas and head-to-toe covers were imposed on women. These social policies introduced by the Taliban were largely disapproved. 

Who is the leader of the Taliban

After the death of Mullah Omar in 2013, Mullah Omar’s successor, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, was murdered by a US drone strike in Pakistan in 2016. Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada, a Pashtun from Kandahar who formerly led the group’s Islamic courts, has led the organisation since then. The Taliban’s decisions are guided by a council of leaders stationed in Pakistan, known as the Quetta Shura.

Sources of  their money and weapons 

Opium and the taxes 

According to the UN monitoring agency, the Taliban makes the majority of their money from illegal operations including opium poppy production, drug trafficking, extortion of local companies, and kidnapping. Afghanistan’s poppy industry is the Taliban’s primary source of revenue. It earned around $460 million from opium poppy cultivation in 2020. Although some planting occurs in government areas, the majority of poppy farming occurs in Taliban-controlled areas and is thought to be a significant source of income. Taxes imposed at various phases of the process are used to fund the Taliban. Farmers of opium are charged a ten percent cultivation tax. The laboratories that transform opium into heroin, as well as the traffickers who smuggle the illegal substances, pay taxes.

Foreign funding

Supporters in Pakistan and the Gulf provide money to the organisation. The Taliban also levy taxes on enterprises, benefit from fuel trading in Taliban-controlled border areas, and operate illegal mines throughout the nation. Its annual income estimates range from $300 million to $1.6 billion.

Mines and minerals

Afghanistan is a mineral and precious-stone rich country. The majority of the extraction is done on a small basis, and much of it is illegal. The Taliban have seized control of mining sites and are extorting money from both legal and criminal mines. The Taliban currently earns more than $50 million each year from mining around the nation.

Why did the US fight a war in Afghanistan and why did it last so long

How did the fight start? 

In 2001, the United States was recovering from the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington, which killed over 3,000 people. Al-Qaeda, an Islamist militant group, and its leader, Osama Bin Laden, were blamed by officials. Bin Laden was in Afghanistan, where he was protected by the Taliban, a group of Islamists in control since 1996. When the Taliban refused to hand over Bin Laden as demanded by the US, American soldiers invaded Afghanistan and destroyed Mullah Omar’s administration. In 2004, a new Afghan government took over when NATO allies joined the US, but deadly Taliban attacks remained. In 2009, President Barack Obama’s “troop surge” helped push the Taliban back, although it was short-lived. NATO’s multinational soldiers terminated their combat operation in 2014, at the end of the bloodiest year since 2001, handing security over to the Afghan army. The Taliban gained momentum as a result, and they conquered more territory.

The United States and the Taliban signed a historic agreement in February 2020, outlining a 14-month timeline for the withdrawal of all American forces from Afghanistan. U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban political chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar signed the agreement in Doha, Qatar’s capital. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of the United States was present to witness the ceremony. The deal had brought some hope for an end to years of bloodshed for millions of Afghans. 

What was the role of Bin Laden

Bin Laden is best recognised for his role in the September 11 attacks and prompted President George W. Bush to declare war on terrorism. In reaction to the attacks, the US started the War on Terror in Afghanistan to remove the Taliban rule and arrest Al-Qaeda operatives, while several countries strengthened their anti-terrorism legislation to prevent future attacks. He strengthened his alliance with the Taliban by dispatching several hundred Afghan Arab warriors to assist the Taliban in killing between 5,000-6,000 Hazaras who had overrun the city. Bin Laden was given safe refuge by the Taliban while planning the September 11 terrorist strikes. Following the Al-Qaeda attacks on September 11, 2001, US-backed forces in the north surged into Kabul in November under the cover of massive US airstrikes. While mounting an insurgent struggle to reclaim power in Afghanistan, Mullah Omar and other Taliban commanders sought refuge in Pakistan. The Taliban allowed Afghanistan to become a refuge for Islamic militants from all over the world, including Osama bin Laden, an exiled Saudi Arabian suspected of planning several terrorist operations against American interests as the leader of al-Qaeda. Following the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C. The Taliban’s reluctance to extradite bin Laden to the United States triggered a military conflict with the US and allied nations. The Taliban was deposed as a result of this.

What do the Taliban want to achieve with their fight

To destabilise Kabul’s US-backed administration and reimpose their harsh version of Islam across the country, the Taliban took control of Afghanistan on 16th August 2021. According to the Taliban commanders, they want to build an inclusive government that isn’t a danger to the West, but the group has reimposed severe rule in the areas it controls. The Taliban also stated that Afghans have nothing to fear from their reign and that individuals who have worked for the government will be granted amnesty. Afghans who escaped Taliban-controlled areas or remained under the militants’ authority, on the other hand, claimed that they have witnessed unprovoked attacks on civilians, women being forced to labour at gunpoint, and captured troops being executed.

16th August 2021

Taliban came to power

Almost two decades after being removed from power by a US-led coalition, the Taliban took control of Afghanistan. After President Ashraf Ghani left Afghanistan, the Taliban took control of the presidential residence and the Taliban leaders declared that “the war is over.”

According to a Taliban official, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan will be announced from the presidential palace soon.

Why did Ashraf Ghani leave the country

Soon after the Taliban captured Kabul on Sunday, embattled President Ashraf Ghani and National Security Adviser Hamdullah Muhib departed the nation, paving the way for the Taliban to reclaim power in Afghanistan 20 years after a US-led military assault evicted them. Ashraf Ghani claimed he had no choice but to flee Afghanistan to avoid bloodshed and a massive calamity. Ghani claimed he had to choose between fighting the “armed Taliban” or “leaving the dear country that I have dedicated my life to preserving for the past 20 years.” The Taliban declared the Afghan war to be over once he fled.

Why is Afghanistan falling to the Taliban so fast

Intelligence failure

The speed with which the Taliban took control of Afghanistan stunned the world after nearly two decades of war, with more than 6,000 American soldiers lost, over 100,000 Afghans dead, and more than $2 trillion spent by the US.

According to US defence sources, Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, was projected to fall in 90 days. It was completed within ten days.

The US military intelligence misread the situation, resulting in the Taliban’s swift conquest of Afghanistan, including the capital and presidential palace.

A collapse in the will to fight

Many Afghan forces surrendered when they progressed in cities, believing that the Kabul government would not support them. Many residents left the country to avoid the situation. 

Taliban militarily

The Taliban started it by cutting off government supply lines and by expanding their numbers while devising new plans. They were just as deadly with social media as they were with sniper guns. They used coercion to intimidate local tribal chiefs, and they’ve threatened local Afghans who assist with the US and other foreign forces using text messaging campaigns. The Taliban also delegate authority to ground commanders and send individuals into seized areas to conduct small-scale social services.

Afghan government corruption and military weakness

One of the main reasons was government weakness and military weakness. The Afghan military was underpaid, malnourished, and under-compensated by Kabul’s administration.

They were not well fed, very rarely paid, and had been on duty for a long period away from home and were not well-led. Many army units sold their weaponry to the Taliban for money, and there were numerous unaccounted-for desertions, resulting in inflated military numbers on the books.

Scenarios of what’s next

Slow strangulation

Afghan people are suffering the hardest as Afghan government forces seek to stop Taliban momentum. The Taliban currently control the majority of Afghanistan’s border crossings, denying the government revenue and allowing the Taliban to tax trade to support their war efforts. With enough pressure and deprivation, the government will sue the Taliban for peace, giving the Taliban the majority of their demands.

The tipping point

The Taliban have a quicker scenario for a Taliban race that leads to a psychological tipping point, in which a critical mass of political leaders and power brokers, which then switch sides or abandon quickly, seems to inevitably have their ultimate victory so that they can not fight or persecute under a new political order.

What is happening now 

As the Taliban gained control of Afghanistan, horrific images of individuals attempting to flee the nation have surfaced. The Taliban have likewise imposed the same three criteria on the Afghan people: adopt Sharia law, leave Afghanistan, or die.

Conclusion 

As Taliban forces have swept over the country, it appears that the illusion of moderation has been abandoned, with worrying tales of school closures, mobility restrictions, and women being forced to leave their jobs. The Taliban spokesman has continued to assert that women’s rights are respected, but his comments are more false than ever. Whatever is happening now in Afghanistan, the same thing happened 31 years ago when Kashmiri Pandits were forced to flee their homes overnight to avoid extreme Islamic forces. Those individuals are still refugees in India. Those who were unable to flee were put to death. When Islamic fundamentalists forcibly expelled Kashmiri Pandits in 1990, they offered them three options: adopt Islam, leave Kashmir, or die.

References

 


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