A lack of confidence in cities
Widespread suspicion surrounds the Taliban in the urban and educated population, and for good reason. Many Afghans still remember the period 1996-2001 when the Islamist movement was in power and applied an ultra-rigorous reading of Sharia, Islamic law. Women were no longer allowed to work and girls’ schools were closed. Political opponents were executed and ethnic minorities persecuted.
Twenty years later, the Taliban claim that they intend to pursue a different policy, including with regard to women’s rights. They also promised to establish an inclusive government. In particular, contacts have been established with former President Hamid Karzai. They also sent representatives to speak to the predominantly Shiite Hazara minority, persecuted by the Taliban in the 1990s. While the return of the Taliban has been greeted with relief in some rural parts of the country, where locals primarily want an end to the war. violence, many Afghans have warned that they will judge only by deeds. Women in the cities remain on the alert, for the most part cloistered at home, a sign of pervasive mistrust.
In the Panchir valley, north-east of Kabul, real resistance was organized around Ahmad Massoud, the son of Commander Ahmed Shah Massoud, assassinated in 2001 by Al-Qaeda.
The threat of humanitarian and economic disaster
Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world. After the fall of the Taliban regime, ousted from power in 2001, foreign aid had flowed into the country. In 2020, international aid represented more than 40% of GDP. But much of that aid is now on hold and the Taliban do not have access to funds from the Afghan central bank, the majority of which is held abroad. Washington has already indicated that the Taliban would not have access to assets held in the United States.
The situation could therefore turn into disaster at a time when the Taliban will have to quickly find the money to pay the salaries of civil servants and ensure that vital infrastructure (water, electricity, communications) can continue to function. The Taliban’s current income, which comes mainly from criminal activities, is estimated by the UN at between $ 300 million and over $ 1.5 billion per year. A financial windfall that is seen as a drop in the face of the current needs of Afghanistan, according to experts. In this context, the UN has warned of a “humanitarian catastrophe” that would hit Afghans hard this winter.
Beyond the economic crisis, the Taliban will also have to contend with another shortage, just as critical and dramatic, that of brains. Lawyers, civil servants, technicians … many qualified Afghans have fled the country aboard evacuation flights chartered by foreign powers in recent weeks. As a sign of their concern, the Taliban last week urged Westerners to evacuate only foreigners and not Afghan experts, such as engineers, needed in the country.
The country’s diplomatic isolation
Between 1996 and 2001, the Taliban regime was a real pariah on the international scene. This time around, the Islamist movement seems inclined to seek wide recognition abroad, even though most countries have suspended or closed their diplomatic missions in Kabul. The group has contacts with several regional powers, be it Pakistan, Iran, Russia, China or Qatar. But none of them has yet recognized the new power in place in Kabul and the United States has warned that the Taliban should “deserve” their legitimacy.
The terrorist threat from the Islamic State
The takeover of the country by the Taliban has not ended the terrorist threat, as shown by the attack on August 26 near Kabul airport, claimed by the local branch of the state Islamic.
Holding a radical Sunni line similar to that of the Taliban, the Islamic State in Khorasan (IS-K), however, diverges from the latter in terms of theology and strategy. A sign of the strong enmity between them, IS has called the Taliban apostates in several statements and did not congratulate them after their capture of Kabul on August 15. The challenge promises to be complex for the Taliban: to defend the Afghan population against the same type of attacks that its own fighters have carried out for years in the country.
letelegramme Fr Trans