The Consequences of Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan

Part one
Taliban China Talks  Photo from Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the People's Republic of China
Taliban China. Photo from Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the People's Republic of China © Prachatai via Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

‘The Consequences’ is a set of short essays that provides a general overview on Afghanistan’s current situation under the Taliban’s second reign. Each essay will try to respond to a specific fundamental question related to Afghanistan’s situation,  the consequences of the measures that will be taken in Afghanistan by key players and possible upcoming scenarios.

What are the most likely scenarios following the announcement of the Taliban’s interim government?

Understanding the situation under the Taliban’s second reign or possible future scenarios in Afghanistan requires an understanding of the Taliban’s structure, hierarchy and its internal division of power. In addition, it requires a good knowledge of Afghanistan’s society, culture and its history, going back  at least five decades. Thus, the points, analysis and suggestions provided in this essay and follow up essays are based on an in-depth understanding of noted elements of Afghanistan and the Taliban.

The Taliban has several internal fragmentations, encompassing at the least a military face, which is highly radical, and the political segment of the Taliban which is trying to present a moderate picture of the Taliban. Unlike the radical military segment the political segment that represented the Taliban in Doha sought to soften its image before the world. Even though the political segment of the Taliban was successful in signing an agreement with the US and in convincing the international coalition to leave Afghanistan, at the internal level, it was powerless and failed to fulfill commitments that were key to its agreement with the US with respect to  a new political settlement. Despite the Taliban’s claim that it would establish an inclusive government with participation of all parties and ethnic groups, the interim acting government announced by the Taliban and with strong influence of Pakistan is instead a government comprising members of a single ethnicity established  at the discretion of the Taliban alone, with no sign of inclusiveness. The question most pertinent after announcement of the Taliban’s interim government is whether the Taliban will be able to govern the country.

Responding to this question requires us to look at the Taliban’s domestic policies and international relations, because it is Taliban’s domestic policies that will dictate its national and international legitimacy. But can the Taliban gain national and international legitimacy? If not, what will be the possible future scenario?

The legitimacy of the Taliban’s government depends on Afghan citizens’ free and fair participation in civil and political life and the equal provision of services by the government for all its citizens. It is worth  mentioning that the Taliban may claim or even show some sort of commitment to human rights in its future constitution, but, it is most likely that it will recognize them as conditional on and secondary to the implementation of  Sharia Law, which compels us  to  take a closer look at the Taliban’s interpretation of Sharia Law and its values in comparison to modern international human rights standards. Therefore, it is most important to concentrate on the measures the Taliban has taken so far and will take in the future, so as to predict the outcome. We see that the Taliban has yet to fulfill any criteria to gain internal and international legitimacy. At this point, the Taliban thinks that it is the victor of a holy war (Jehad) against the west and has the right to govern the country. Thus, its government is exclusive and radical in its faith.

In addition, many of the members of the Taliban’s interim government cabinet are on the blacklist of the United Nations Security Council, which makes their selection as ministers   seriously disrespectful of international relations.

Also, a service provision is the most important demand of citizens from the Taliban’s government, one that cannot be fulfilled for the following reasons at least in the near future:

  1. All Taliban ministers are clerics, and none of them has professional expertise and knowledge in the field of their ministries.
  2. The Taliban’s establishment of an exclusive government, lack of respect for human rights and its  background of human rights violations and terrorism makes the international community very careful in its dealings with the Taliban’s acting government. On the other hand, the Taliban’s government does seriously need international support to be able to provide services and gain internal legitimacy.

Hence, the Taliban’s government will not be able to rule the country without international support, which can be granted only upon the Taliban’s recognition by the international community. It must be noted that the Taliban has failed to fulfill the minimum requirements – in terms of political participation and respect for human rights – to gain international legitimacy. Therefore, it is unlikely that the Taliban will receive enough support for its government soon, which will result in the rapid failure of said government. Also, there are several other armed factions and terrorist groups active inside Afghanistan, which using the internal tensions and weaknesses of the Taliban, will soon find an opportunity to gain power and rule specific parts of the country;  the most likely fallout of such a scenario would be another civil war. Hence, we look at a situation wherein Afghanistan faces another crisis whose consequences will impact all neighboring regions and even the world. 

Mr. Hayatullah Jawad is an Afghan National and founder and director of the Afghan Human Rights Research and Advocacy Organization AHRRAO. He is pursuing his Master degree in Human Rights at Friedrich Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg. He has degrees in Law and Political Science as well as in Persian Literature from Balkh University, Afghanistan. He has worked as Human Rights Field Monitoring Officer and Human Rights Monitoring and Investigation Senior Assistant for 10 years at the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, Civic Education Officer at the Afghanistan Joint Election Management Body as well as Child Protection Officer at Save the Children UK and has been a member of the EU Election monitoring team in northern Afghanistan during the 2009 presidential election