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On February 2, , the residents of the southern Afghan town of Musa Qala awoke to see the white banner of the Taliban flying above the town center where​.
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One chapter treats the plight of women under Taliban rule and includes a coda noting that the liberation has not been all that complete. Another discusses the would-be moderate Taliban spokesmen and their interactions with outsiders during the period of Taliban rule Yet another tentatively advances the thesis that the Taliban are one more example of a hinterland religio-political movement striking against the urban center, a category presented centuries ago by the Arab historian Ibn Khaldun. These diverse interpretations offer not a single overarching answer but a basis for weighing pre- and post-Taliban developments in Afghanistan.

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This site uses cookies to improve your user experience. Click here to learn more. In-depth analysis delivered weekly - Subscribe to our newsletter, featuring our editors' top picks from the past week. Sign in Subscribe. Subscribe Login Sign up. Out of power and lacking control over territory, the Taliban has proved adept at projecting itself as stronger than it is in terms of numbers and resources. Despite the increasing sophistication of some of its propaganda, however, it still puts out contradictory messages that indicate internal rifts and the diffuse nature of the insurgency.

These reveal a cross-border leadership and support apparatus striving to present a unified front and assert control even as various groups maintain their own communications networks. Maintaining relations with transnational jihadist networks, which have a more global agenda, is a potential problem for the Taliban, which has always been a largely nationalistic movement.

A website in the name of the former regime — the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan — is used as an international distribution centre for leadership statements and inflated tales of battlefield exploits. While fairly rudimentary, this is not a small effort; updates appear several times a day in five languages.

Magazines put out by the movement or its supporters provide a further source of information on leadership structures and issues considered to be of importance. But for the largely rural and illiterate population, great efforts are also put into conveying preaching and battle reports via DVDs, audio cassettes, shabnamah night letters — pamphlets or leaflets usually containing threats and traditional nationalist songs and poems. The Taliban also increasingly uses mobile phones to spread its message. The vast majority of the material is in Pashtu, and a shortage of language skills in the international community means much of this either passes unnoticed or is misunderstood.


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English-language statements are relatively crude, but the Taliban is able to put out its story rapidly. The overriding strategic narrative is a quest for legitimacy and the projection of strength. Use of tactics such as suicide bombings — previously unknown in Afghanistan — and roadside bombs, as well as such audacious actions in as a prison break in Kandahar city, an attack on a military parade attended by President Hamid Karzai and an assault on a five-star hotel demonstrate that grabbing attention lies at the core of operations.

Within Afghanistan the Taliban is adept at exploiting local disenfranchisement and disillusionment.

Afghanistan to Taliban: Peace or ‘we will continue to fight’

The Kabul administration needs to ensure it is seen as one worth fighting for, not least by ending the culture of impunity and demanding accountability of its members. The international community must provide the necessary support and pressure for improved performance, while also examining its own actions. Whatever the military benefits of arbitrary detentions, they are far outweighed by the alienation they cause. The effectiveness of aerial bombardment, even if strictly exercised within the bounds of international law, must be considered against the damage to popular support.

Greater efforts are needed in Western capitals to explain to their own populations the necessity of staying for the long haul rather than yielding to the pressure of quick fixes that give only the appearance of action. The Taliban is not going to be defeated militarily and is impervious to outside criticism. Rather, the legitimacy of its ideas and actions must be challenged more forcefully by the Afghan government and citizens. Its killings of civilians and targeting of community leaders need to be highlighted, including a public accounting for actions by the militants through open trials — something that has not yet happened.

Strengthening the legitimacy of the Afghan government and ensuring that its actions — and those of its international backers — are similarly bound by the rule of law should be an important complement. Ultimately, winning popular support is not about telling local communities that they are better off today. It is about proving it. Although both leading campaigns have already claimed a first-round victory, official preliminary tallies are not expected to be released until mid-October.

Even then, the vote count will be subject to certification, which will come after electoral bodies adjudicate complaints about the process. The Taliban and the Crisis in Afghanistan is an up-to-date collection of expert essays on the rise, fall and renaissance of the Taliban, set against the backdrop of Afghan wars that extended from the s to their assumption of power in and fall in Several reasons are adduced: authentic revulsion at the corrupt, disorderly, criminal way of life in Afghanistan after the communist collapse; rage at the ascension of non-Pashtun rulers; manipulation by foreign intelligence agencies principally the Pakistani ISI.

The Pashtun variable is perhaps the one American readers must focus on most closely. Pashtuns are the largest and dominant ethnic group in Afghanistan and have ruled it for most of Afghanistan's existence dating to the 18th century. After the communist's fall from power, Tadjiks and other northerners non-Pashtuns briefly assumed control of Kabul. This certainly galled Pashtuns in general and the Taliban in particular. In terms of Pakistan, non-Pashtun rule of Afghanistan also was a problem. The current crisis takes shape are these facts: Karzai is a Pashtun who is surrounded by many "northern" ministers.

In some Pashtun eyes, he is a sell-out. Hence, there is a diverse, neo-Taliban movement conducting operations to weaken his government and drive foreign forces out of the country, presumably leading to a reassertion of more "genuine" Pashtun rule. The "foreign factor" is a permanent element in Afghan national existence because Afghanistan is an extremely poor state that has served as a buffer, or shuttlecock, between great powers since the early 19th century. To rule the country, a king or president typically has counted on foreign patronage.

Earlier patronage was Soviet, and, of course, British. The political formula in play in Afghanistan right now centralized power weakened by a symbolic Pashtun leader seems destined to fail.

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A more federal approach is called for. Having fought for decades to survive, the northern Afghans of Tadjik, Uzebek, and other ethnic affiliations are in no mood to be ruled again by a strong central Pashtun-led government.

The Newsmakers: Negotiating with the Afghan Taliban and the Other Refugee Route

But a weak central Pashutn-led government won't work in this country either. Hence, the attractiveness of the federal approach although the Pashtun in Afghanistan, like the Sunni in Iraq, tend to think that is their right and calling to be in charge of a strong central government. This collection of essays, like all such collections, is somewhat repetitive and uneven. It veers between grand academic discourse and rat-a-tat historical reporting.

There is no central thesis, nor is there a strong recommendation or prediction for the future. Mar 24, Lianne rated it really liked it. A great collection of scholarly articles about the Taliban. Now this book is increasingly relevant as we prepare to send in more troops.

Very detailed solid work for foreign policy loving people. Mar 27, Sues57 Schroeder rated it did not like it. The only book I have ever returned to Amazon.

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Taliban insurgency - Wikipedia

Some very sloppy scholarship, and I questioned some of the sources, to such an extent that the book lost all credibility for me. Rob rated it really liked it Jun 30, Mark rated it really liked it Aug 13, Susan T. Adam rated it liked it Nov 11,