Magdy Mustafa 

The Taliban movement has returned to the top of the Afghan scene, which it has not lost sight of since the American-led invasion of Afghanistan 20 years ago to overthrow it, and the movement has become the difficult number in the complex Afghan equation these days when the American forces are accelerating steps to complete their withdrawal, while the Taliban is in a hurry to realize their dream of regaining control over the country .

The Taliban considers itself to have the upper hand in the country, while the Afghan government is in an unenviable position, and the US intelligence services expect its collapse within the next six months after the withdrawal of US forces, and observers and analysts confirm that the collapse is "inevitably coming."

The Taliban, who was overthrown by the United States in their invasion of Afghanistan after the events of September 11, 2001, did not stop fighting, but they also knew the negotiation approach, which led to the Americans signing an agreement with them in Doha on February 29, 2020, after nearly 20 years of war. .

The new Taliban,

with its return to the forefront of the scene by expanding its attacks, the question arises about the new version of the Taliban movement in 2021, and what it was like when it appeared on the Afghan scene about a quarter of a century ago, and what was new in its discourse?

The most important question concerns the approach preferred by the Taliban after the withdrawal of foreign forces is complete.

The Taliban has traditionally relied since its emergence a quarter of a century ago on the ethnic Pashtuns, and showed a greater degree of pragmatism that made it change its organization and methods of recruitment, and gave a wide place to the non-Pashtuns of the Uzbeks, Tajiks and Turkmens.

In order to find acceptance locally and internationally, the Taliban presented itself as a multi-ethnic and multi-sectarian force, and sought to secure the support of the communities it fought against in the past by wearing the national mantle.

The Taliban also exploited the divisions in northern Afghanistan to win over tribal leaders who felt marginalized by the government in Kabul in terms of political representation, some of whom joined the movement for protection because they could no longer rely on Afghan security forces.

The Taliban's approach has benefited the group as many ethnic minorities have joined it.

The Taliban, with whom US administrations had refused to negotiate as a terrorist movement, benefited from their agreement with the United States in order to co-opt regional ethnic groups.

With the withdrawal of US forces, joining the Taliban has become a serious option for many people and groups in Afghanistan.

On the other hand, the internal dispute weakened the position of the Kabul government, and some warlords and power groups concluded separate deals with the movement, which further weakened the position of the central government.

In an attempt to contain internal and external concerns about the movement’s position on women and other ethnicities other than Pashtuns, deputy Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar issued a statement a week ago in which he said, “We take upon ourselves the obligation to accommodate all rights of the citizens of our country, whether male or female, in light of the rules The glorious religion of Islam and the noble traditions of Afghan society.

In a statement, he pledged to establish a "real Islamic regime" in Afghanistan.

The Afghan government mobilizes the militias to support them against the Taliban (Reuters)

Military option

on the ground The Taliban movement continues battles to expand its influence in the north and west of Afghanistan, after it seized large rural areas since last May, and approached several major cities, including the city of Qala Nuo, the capital of Badghis province in northwestern Afghanistan, and also took control of two provinces in the border state of Herat. with Iran.

In return, the Afghan government forces were deprived of the support of the US Air Force, which was a decisive factor in the conflict by providing vital support to the government forces when they faced the dangers of the militia, and then the government launched a call for the mobilization of militias to fight the Taliban.

The recall and mobilization of militias is a repetition of what was the case in Afghanistan in the first half of the nineties of the last century after the fall of the Najibullah government, when several groups of mujahideen fought each other, which plunged the country into a devastating civil war in which thousands were killed, and new waves of millions were witnessed The displaced are among the displaced and refugees to neighboring countries.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (center) speaks to the delegations of the Afghan government (left) and the Taliban movement (right) at the Foreign Ministry in Tehran (European)  


In fact, the Taliban is an integral part of the Afghan puzzle, and the peace process is unlikely to succeed without their participation, and the movement has said that it will not participate in the event until all foreign forces withdraw from the country.

The Taliban realizes that they will inevitably lose if they withdraw from the peace process, especially the opportunity for international recognition, which has been courting world powers since 2013 when it established its political office in the Qatari capital, Doha.

Peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government have stalled.

But Taliban spokesman, Muhammad Naeem, said Thursday that in a meeting between senior Taliban leaders and some Afghan politicians in Tehran, the two sides recognized that war is not a solution in Afghanistan, and "political settlements should be sought," adding that another meeting with politicians would be held. In the near future to discuss the mechanism of the transition from war to permanent peace and to an Islamic system for the country and how to achieve it.

Naim's statements implicitly indicate that the purpose of the movement's battles to expand influence in the north and west of the country is to strengthen its position in any future negotiations involving the Taliban regarding the future of the country, after the withdrawal of foreign forces and the nature of the next government.

The hope of ending the decades-long Afghan nightmare remains subject to a negotiated settlement that includes all the ethnic and religious spectrum of the Afghan people, because the "eternal war" will exacerbate the misery of the helpless Afghan people, who have paid and paid a costly tax for the conflict in the remains of the country that has not yet healed.