On August 15, 2021, when the Taliban seized Kabul, their intentions remained unclear to many. After two decades of attrition warfare, the Taliban’s success in compelling the United States to withdraw from Afghanistan left global powers, eager to compete with the U.S., in a state of euphoria. Pakistan, being the most committed supporter of the Taliban, celebrated their victory, while Iran revealed its satisfaction over the U.S.’s withdrawal from its neighborhood. This victory came after twenty years of relentless warfare by the Taliban, which had received unwavering military and political backing from Islamabad and, more recently, Tehran. In addition to Pakistan and Iran, the U.S., through the signing of the Doha Peace Agreement, played a role in facilitating the collapse of the Afghan government, thereby contributing to the resurgence of the Taliban Emirate.
Before the fall of the Afghan government, there were prevalent discussions about a “change” in the Taliban. The Western media were engaged in disseminating encouraging and promising stories about the group highlighting that they had been domesticated and would not repeat the negative experiences of the past. Thus far, everything was promising and the Taliban seemed to be a different entity as a force that emerged from the remnants of war, corruption, and unemployment of a failed, bankrupt, and on the verge of collapse regime. This group had not yet fully revealed its true face. Gradually, the supposed “change of the Taliban” was revealed to be a myth, and the group was not distinct from the one ruling Afghanistan 20 years ago with tribal terror and barbarism. It returned with the same ideological form and approaches to mock the intelligence of those who, due to their lack of historical memory, have never learned lessons from history, and therefore, they are constantly confused and surprised.
In more than two years of its rule over Afghanistan, the Taliban group has managed to disappoint its domestic and foreign allies to an extent that now neither the domestic Taliban supporters nor the closest foreign supporters of this group, including Pakistan and Iran, are content with it. No side dares to remark on the “change” of the Taliban anymore. It appears that everyone has adopted a realistic approach, avoiding those immature fantasies about one of the most primitive Islamist groups, which hates change more than anything else and considers any adjustment to its old and petrified beliefs as an unforgivable betrayal of the sacred and immutable principles of religion. This can be considered a good development if we stop expecting a change in the Taliban and get over our illusions. However, it appears that the mythmakers of the Taliban “change” have not stopped their illusions and fantasizing and they still expect the group to give up stubbornness and abide by their demands. The Taliban also asks the world not to interfere in Afghanistan’s internal affairs every time there is a demand for the formation of an inclusive government, respect for women’s rights, and other similar issues.
It has been two years since the world has been monotonously requesting the Taliban to respect women’s rights, fight terrorism, and form an inclusive government. However, the Taliban have not taken even one minor step towards implementing the demands that are raised every day by countries and international institutions, nor do they seem willing to do so. The Minister of Higher Education of the Taliban can reserve the right to state that “those who issue instructions” to this group are ignorant. For two years, foreigners and locals have been pleading with the Taliban to open the gates of universities and schools to girls and to create the ground for the creation of an all-inclusive government. Such a lenient and gentle request is not a command, as the Taliban Minister of Higher Education of the Taliban says; rather, it is a humble request conveying complaints from this group: you have not fulfilled your obligations; please respect women’s rights and let others have a mere share in your government. It has been evident several times that the Taliban view such expectations as unfounded and unreasonable. This is because this group is not responsible to any other force except itself and is not willing to be accountable to people, countries, and international institutions.
The Taliban stands as an ideological totalitarian group that is not compatible with any international rules and regulations. This group possesses an exclusive intellectual and political system and never wants to change it. It is willing to adjust this intellectual apparatus only if it is under intense and sustained political and economic pressure, to the extent that it sees its existence in danger. Presently, not only the political and economic pressures against the Taliban have not intensified, but over time, the situation is becoming more normal seemingly making the world interact and cooperate with the Taliban.
The Westerners, led by the US, who have abandoned Afghanistan, no longer have the desire to fight in the deadly and cannibalistic territory of this country. They do not even support armed movements against the Taliban fearing that supporting the military fronts opposing this group will lead them back into the chronic crisis of Afghanistan. The Americans are unofficially engaging with the Taliban to gain more influence among this group. The US government still dominates the airspace of Afghanistan and will attack any target in this country if necessary.
The two military fronts opposing the Taliban, such as the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRF) and Afghanistan Freedom Front (AFF) not only have not carried out any strong and crucial offensives but with time, their military activities have decreased and their continuous presence in the media also faded away. This indicates that they have not yet succeeded in building a military-political alternative against the Taliban, and this issue again favors the Kabul-based regime.
Having said that, at the moment, there is not a promising prospect to evade the Taliban regime. However, while despair psychologically inflicts a deadly blow on people’s personalities, it can also play a liberating and revolutionary role. Disappointment has the advantage of making us familiar with the genuine possibilities and capacity of ourselves and our enemies, and in this way, we are less delusional and finally start preparing for a new war.