The Taliban, akin to various extremist groups, have long sought to justify their acts of violence and warfare by invoking the plight of Muslims in regions such as China, Kashmir, Palestine, and others. They claim to engage in jihad with the intent of defending oppressed and unfairly treated Muslims. According to the assertions of these groups, their military endeavors are rooted in the pursuit of power, with the ultimate goal of aiding their fellow co-religionists who endure oppression.
In practice, once these groups attain power, they are often captivated by the allure of worldly comforts, leading them to backtrack on many of their promises. Upon gaining power, their principal focus frequently shifts towards accumulating more wealth and material advantages, often resorting to the suppression and elimination of fellow believers who oppose them. This conduct mirrors the actions of the Taliban, who are currently engaged in hostilities against Salafis and rival factions in Afghanistan. This glaring contradiction is vividly exemplified in the actions of Islamic political groups, particularly the Taliban.
In terms of ideology and beliefs, the Taliban share a strong affiliation with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a group deeply rooted among the Uighurs of China, with whom they maintained a close working relationship during their years of conflict with the former Afghan government. Nevertheless, comprehensive information regarding the East Turkestan Islamic Movement remains scarce, particularly regarding whether it is part of the international jihadist network or primarily focused on local objectives. In essence, it raises the question of whether their core mission is to defend the Muslim Uighur minority in China and oppose the Chinese government’s oppression, or if they aspire, akin to groups like al-Qaeda and the Taliban, to establish a global Islamic caliphate. Nonetheless, it is evident that this group has resorted to armed conflict and violence as one of its primary means to pursue its objectives.
Conversely, many Uighur Muslims in China have no affiliation with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement and are solely concerned with safeguarding their religious and cultural identity, which sets them apart from the majority of the Chinese population. Nonetheless, the Chinese government exercises stringent control and suppression over them, utilizing some of the most severe methods of surveillance, coercion, forced labor camps, and attempts to eradicate their language, religion, and culture. Despite these challenges, the religious freedoms of the Uighurs have been significantly curtailed, their mosques shuttered, and the world largely kept uninformed about their conditions.
The glaring contradiction here lies in the fact that the Taliban, on one hand, display a marked indifference to the suffering of Muslims in China by cultivating warm relations with the Chinese government. Simultaneously, they maintain close ties with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement. The nature of their commitments concerning the East Turkestan Movement within their amicable relationship with the Chinese government remains unclear. It raises questions of whether they might trade these ties for financial gain or if they will continue to extend support. One thing that is evident to the global community is the insignificance of the plight of the oppressed Muslim minority in China to these groups. They seem willing to betray their own co-religionists for the sake of wealth and power, underscoring that their primary priorities are money and authority within the realm of political Islam.