What Next for Afghanistan

The Taliban has overrun Afghanistan at an unprecedented rate, catching intelligence agencies and experts at a surprise. No one thought the group would ever return to power, and even those who saw the possibility anticipated years to come. Now that the group is in control, what are the possible developments and outcomes? The views presented in this article are personal opinions and observations; I am not a political analyst or an expert on Afghanistan, war, or geopolitics.

Taliban follows oppressive and brutal practices, including cutting people’s hands, prohibiting women education, public flogging, lashing, forcing women to wear Burqa, and executions. The group’s ascension ushers the introduction and enforcement of stringent Sharia laws across Afghanistan. Taliban officials have emphasized that the group will not enforce discriminatory and oppressive laws, allowing women to attend school, work, and dress modestly. Furthermore, the regime promises not to target opposition and those who collaborated with the West.

Skepticism

Many people are skeptical about the Taliban, believing that the group will soon return to its old ways. Two decades is a long time, and there is a possibility they have changed. Even in developed democracies, minorities, including Blacks and LGBTQ, did not have many rights, but within one or two decades, the society had accommodated them. So let hope the same applies in Afghanistan; maybe the group has evolved.

The group is likely to uphold lenient and progressive policies to prevent an invasion. For many years, Taliban fighters have lived in caves and mountains. The U.S and Afghan forces conducted regular raids to capture and kill Taliban fighters, forcing the group to retreat into deplorable hideouts. It is not in the group’s best interest to mess up the newly acquired freedom and status. Extreme human rights violations would persuade the West to invade the country and overthrow the Taliban regime. I do not think they would want to leave the presidential palaces and return into the caves, so chances are they will try to accommodate women and stop barbaric practices.

Furthermore, maintaining a positive image helps avoid international sanctions and embargos. Such allows the Taliban administration to grow the country’s revenue and fund infrastructure developments, social services, and, most notably, the military. Although money is not the group’s primary motivation, its officials can compromise to enrich themselves.

Internal conflicts

The group is prone to divisions when one side seeks to embrace progressive policies while the other wants to remain conservative and enforce Sharia laws by the book. Such conflicts are detrimental to peace and stability because the two fractions would divide and destabilize the country. The disputes may also arise due to other reasons, including control, leadership, and resource sharing. The international community would opt not to intervene in such conflicts, hoping that the Taliban weakens itself.

Resistance

Afghans in some towns have started protesting against the Taliban. In response, the Taliban has sent fighters to quell resistance, killing multiple individuals in the process. The group is likely to use brutal force to stop resistance and consolidate power. However, it is uncertain how far the protesters are willing to go, considering the country is full of armed militia and former soldiers. These groups may decide to take arms against the Taliban regime, resulting in a bloody war. Western powers would likely support armed resistance groups, repeating a cycle too familiar. Growing instability due to war would turn Afghanistan into a terrorism hotbed, forcing the U.S. and its allies to send troops to stop terrorist activities.

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