Asia+: The Taliban have ruled Afghanistan for exactly one year. What has changed in this country and region?

Despite an easy victory in the seizure of power, the Taliban continue to remain in the status quo, and the country under their leadership is practically falling apart.

Asia Plus sums up the results of the year under the rule of the Taliban.

Peace, friendship, but not recognition

The coming of the Taliban to power in Afghanistan can be considered an unprecedented event. In the shortest possible time, a huge territory of strategic importance, without any fighting, passed into the hands of the Taliban terrorist movement. The movement chose the Islamic Emirate as the form of government, introducing Sharia law.

The country banned music, severely restricted the rights of women, in particular, girls and girls were forbidden to study, work in government agencies, the media, banks and many companies. The country even banned cinema, and men – to shave.

The only province that resisted the Taliban was Panjshir. Having created the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (FNSA), which was headed by the son of the former leader of the Northern Alliance, Ahmad Shah Masood – Ahmad Masood, the Panjshirites managed to resist the Taliban for more than two weeks, but, in the end, with the support of Pakistani aviation, the Taliban also captured Panjshir. The FSNA militants were forced to flee to the and wage a guerrilla mountains war that continues to this day.

Despite the difficult situation, when the country completely passed into the hands of a terrorist organization, the countries of the world, especially the region, had to accept this reality. Almost all the immediate and relatively close neighbors of Afghanistan began to welcome the Taliban and expressed their intention to cooperate with the new authorities, in particular, Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan (it is even considered the patron of the Taliban), Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan did this. The exception was Tajikistan, which, despite the fact that it has practically not interrupted trade relations with this country, does not have any political ties with the new Afghan authorities and notes in principle that it will cooperate only with an inclusive government, which will include representatives of other political and ethnic groups, in particular the Tajiks.

The Taliban government today mainly consists of representatives of the Pashtun group, representatives of other ethnic groups also occupy not very significant positions, but they were originally members of the Taliban movement. Considering that by doing this the Taliban have fulfilled their obligation to create an inclusive government, they expect recognition at the international level, but so far no one is in a hurry with this, not even their “friendly” countries.
No one removed the Taliban from the lists of terrorists either.

In fact, the Taliban continues to remain in the status quo in the international political arena and has no access to it.

Afghanistan – a territory free from terrorists?

The Taliban has no results in the fight against terrorism either. When they came to power, they promised to cleanse the country of terrorist groups, saying that they would not allow any of them to use Afghanistan to attack neighboring countries. Many experts initially questioned the fulfillment of these obligations.

Periodically, skirmishes and terrorist attacks take place in Afghanistan, which the Taliban attribute to terrorist organizations, in particular ISIS, and report the successful elimination of their supporters in these events. However, there is also an opinion that in fact these skirmishes are taking place between intra-Taliban groups, which have serious disagreements among themselves.

Also, shelling of the territories of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan was carried out from the territory of Afghanistan, and friendly Uzbekistan was shelled more than once, and even the Taliban themselves threaten Tajikistan. This is despite the fact that the Taliban have always positioned themselves as an exclusively intra-Afghan movement, which has no intention of expanding the geography of its influence. The Taliban motivate their threats by the fact that allegedly interferes in the internal affairs of Afghanistan, providing support to the Federal Tax Service.

Also periodically there was information that the extremist group Jamaat Ansarullah, which mainly consists of citizens of Tajikistan and aims to seize the republic, is mobilizing near the Tajik border.

However, the main evidence is that the Taliban not only do not seek to clean Afghanistan from terrorist groups, but also support them, was the presence of Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan, who lived in the center of Kabul near the government palace Agr and was eliminated by an American drone on July 31.
According to some reports, the house where Zawahiri lived belonged to the Minister of the Interior of the Taliban government, Sirajuddin Haqqani. Even barring such a possibility, the presence of such a figure in the heart of Kabul suggests either that the Taliban do not control the country, or that they maintain links with terrorist groups. In any case, this fact will create additional difficulties for this movement in external relations and the policy of their recognition.

Drug trafficking

With the advent of the Taliban, they also promised to wage a merciless war on drugs. In April of this year, the leader of the Islamic Emirate, Haibatullah Akhundzade, issued an order according to which the use, transportation, sale, trade, import and export, as well as the production of any narcotic substances are strictly prohibited.

However, in fact, only Tajikistan for six months of this year managed to stop the smuggling of about 3 tons of drugs from the territory of Afghanistan.

This is despite the fact that for the whole of 2020, the volume of traffic from here amounted to just over 1 ton. This was announced at the last press conference by the head of the Drug Control Agency of Tajikistan Khabibullo Vohidzoda. According to him, during the six months of this year, 14 drug smugglers were detained at the border, all of them are citizens of Afghanistan.

“Compared to last year, this is more by 9 detained smugglers. After coming to power, representatives of the Taliban announced that they intended to ban the cultivation and production of drugs, prevent their sale and distribution, and also toughen punishment against people who are involved in drug trafficking. But in fact, this is not visible, ” Vokhidzoda expressed concern.

Meanwhile, experts point out that the reduction of drugs in this country is almost impossible, it could have devastating consequences for the country’s economy. “The volume of the opium industry in Afghanistan in 2021 was between 9 and 13% of the country’s GDP, which exceeds the value of all registered Afghan exports of goods and services. Opium even helped maintain the exchange rate of the national currency, with which drug dealers paid the peasants for raw materials,” writes Mediazona.

Humanitarian crisis

The economic crisis in Afghanistan, first of all, occurred due to the disconnection of the country’s banking sector from the global network, which was done after the Taliban came to power.

Later, despite the humanitarian and financial assistance of the world community, a serious food crisis arose in the country. According to Human Rights Watch, an international human rights organization, 13,700 Afghan children died of starvation in Afghanistan in the first three months of this year .

According to the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), as many as 19 million Afghans could starve to death overall .

The Taliban blame the US for freezing the country’s foreign exchange reserves and causing the deterioration of the economic situation in Afghanistan. The United States, in turn, puts forward a number of demands for the fulfillment of which part of the reserves will be unfrozen – some part of the United States will be given to the families of those killed in the terrorist attacks in 2001 as compensation for the fact that the Taliban had links with Al Qaeda and allowed to use the country to attack the US.

The Taliban named the conditions for the admission of high school students to schools – learning the basics of household and agriculture
It is also problematic to use internal resources for economic development due to the crisis in the banking sector, although some countries of the region are already expressing their readiness to invest and cooperate with Afghanistan, in particular, China is talking about investing, and Uzbekistan is talking about resuming a railway project with this country and China.

According to one version, the Taliban may have supported the United States in the elimination of Zawahiri in exchange for concessions in the banking sector and the unfreezing of Afghan assets. If so, then perhaps in the near future some changes will begin in the country’s economy, otherwise the crisis will only worsen.

By the way, the personnel potential must also be taken into account, because with the advent of the Taliban, the drain of personnel was massive, it is not known whether the potential of the Taliban themselves will be enough to restore the country.,
August 15, 2022