Taliban Reap Rewards from Fomenting Crisis

By: Ali Sajad Mawlaee

In the present day, the termcrisis is likely used more often in various sciences than any other word. International political scholars use the wordcrisis to explain and analyze conflicts and tensions between political entities, while economists use it to analyze inflation and fluctuations in financial and currency markets. Although the definition and indicators of a crisis may differ between sciences, in political science it is typically the climax of conflict and tension between two political units. In recent months, we have seen numerous border and water conflicts between the Taliban group and the Islamic Republic of Iran, from which the Taliban have evidently benefited. To understand how the Taliban have profited from creating a crisis, it is necessary to consider different perspectives and attitudes towards the crisis.

There are four general attitudes in the political and security literature regarding the examination of the crisis category. Traditionalists or classicists have a negative view of crisis management, believing it to be a secondary step to quell and calm chaos and rebellion. In this attitude, political agents wait for the crisis to occur and then attempt to return the situation to normal.

The second approach to the crisis is the modern one, which views a crisis as an unavoidable situation with unfavorable conditions that must be faced. In this view, crisis management is the process of returning to a state of normalcy and stability.

Postmodernists have a different attitude towards the concept of crisis than modernists and classicists. Rather than viewing it as a negative, they see it as an opportunity to succeed and to address any shortcomings. In other words, they view it as an organizational experience that can create capacity and bring about change.

In the fourth approach to the crisis, postpostmodernism, statesmen do not aim to restore the status quo and resolve the crisis, but instead use it as an opportunity to weaken and undermine their rivals, gain power, and secure advantageous conditions. This differs from postmodernism in that the crisis is not seen as an imposed situation, but rather as one that has been deliberately created by decisionmakers in order to gain control, create a new opportunity, and achieve political and security objectives.

In this article, the crisis is discussed from the perspective of the postpostmodernist, who believes that crisis presents an opportunity.

The Taliban and Creating Crisis

The Taliban are attempting to distract the public from the political, social, and economic issues they are facing within Afghanistan by creating tensions outside the country. In essence, they are attempting to shift attention away from the more pressing matters within the country to those outside the country, which are of lesser importance. Nevertheless, the Taliban have several major objectives in creating a crisis with Iran.

  • Masking the Intra-Group Tensions

In recent days, there have been numerous rumors and reports that the Taliban are experiencing a new wave of internal tensions. This began when Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund was replaced by Mawlawi Abdul Kabir as the Taliban prime minister. Subsequently, there have been reports that Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada, the supreme leader of the group, is attempting to strengthen his power base in Kandahar. It has even been suggested that Mullah Hibatullah is waiting for the right moment to remove Sirajuddin Haqqani, the leader of the Haqqani network and the Taliban‘s interior minister, and replace him with Yusuf Wafa, his associate. Regardless of the accuracy of these rumors, it is clear that there is tension within the Taliban. It is possible that the Taliban are attempting to divert attention away from this by creating a crisis outside.

  • Human Rights Issues and Girls’ Education

As the second anniversary of the Taliban regime approaches, the international community is putting pressure on them to open the gates of girls schools. Furthermore, reports from international institutions such as Amnesty International on the human rights situation have increased the pressure on the Taliban. In order to divert attention away from these issues, the Taliban have taken advantage of the crisis and manipulated public opinion so that few people would think about these challenges and criticize their policies.

  • Making Atmosphere for Their Own Benefit

The Taliban took full advantage of the recent water and border crisis to increase their popularity. They promoted themselves by chanting slogans against Iran. The demagogic and patriotic slogans of the Taliban seemed to be beneficial for the average Afghans, whose xenophobia is a part of their culture. When the Pakistani Air Force attacked Khost, they raised the issue of Pakistan‘s attack on Khost by creating a stir on the other side of the country and manipulating public sentiment. However, all of the Taliban‘s slogans were empty, having no practical application.

The issue of water tension between the Taliban and Iran was widely reported in the news for several days, and the Taliban‘s propaganda machine took full advantage of this opportunity to conceal the issues within Afghanistan. It is likely that the Taliban learned this tactic from the Islamic Republic of Iran or Pakistan. Whenever the economic situation of this country becomes strained and the inflation rate rises, Iran‘s propaganda apparatus redirects the crisis and begins to stir up animosity towards Israel and the United States.

As Afghanistan is currently experiencing unprecedented levels of poverty and international institutions have warned of a humanitarian disaster, with girls having not attended school for over 600 days, the Taliban have exacerbated the situation by creating a crisis in foreign relations. They are attempting to conceal their internal issues and instead focus on matters that are advantageous to them.