The Taliban is likely to take complete power sooner rather than later.
Written by Paul Antonopoulos, independent geopolitical analyst
A recent offensive by the Taliban has resulted in major centers in key Afghan provinces to fall to the group. The Taliban are now less than 150 kilometers away from Kabul and it is only a matter of time before they conquer the capital. The rapid spread of the Taliban in Afghanistan is not a consequence of some brilliant military strategy or some great military defeat they inflicted on government forces, but a reflection of the political situation in the country. The sudden rise of the Taliban is a consequence of the unwillingness of local police, local armed militias and local communities to resist the Taliban.
Yesterday, the Biden administration announced that it would deploy 3,000 troops to Afghanistan in order to facilitate the withdrawal of personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. This suggests that the U.S. recognizes that the Taliban will eventually capture Kabul and take control of the country.
It is reminded that this is not the first time that the Taliban has taken control. Thirty years ago, the predecessors of the Taliban, the mujaheddin, controlled practically all of Afghanistan with the exception of certain territories that are always under the control of tribes and/or business cartels.
Ultimately, authorities in Kabul nominally controlled the entire country following the U.S. invasion in 2001, but even they could not maintain any particular stability despite significant support from the West. The Taliban as an organization has shown that they can function even when suffering from severe Western sanctions, as was the case prior to 2001, but can also function when under direct foreign occupation. The Taliban are very resilient, having survived 20 years of warfare with the West thanks to their strong foundations and not depending too much on foreign funds and support.
The international community, particularly Western countries, have never been overly principled in recognizing a certain political entity or reality. It is remembered that Washington forced most of Europe and a good part of the world to withdraw their recognition of Bashar al-Assad as Syrian President despite him having full control of all the ministries and institutions.
It is inevitable that the West will slowly begin recognizing Assad again, just as they will have to deal with the reality of the Taliban being back in power. None-the-less, if the Western elite estimate that they can gain more from recognizing the Taliban regime, they will do so.
Essentially, everything will mostly depend on the geopolitical interests of the U.S. and how China and Russia might gain significant influence in a post-NATO Afghanistan. If Washington estimates that the destabilization of the entire region would upset the interests of Russia and China, it could use any means to ensure the two Eurasian countries do not gain a major advantage.
The reality is that the Taliban coming to power will not essentially bring any differences in terms of everyday life in Afghanistan for the majority of people outside of Kabul and a few other major cities. Although the Taliban are undoubtedly Muslim extremists, Afghanis overwhelmingly are conservative in nature and many identify closer to Taliban ideology than Western cosmopolitanism that has crept into the country’s cities.
Interestingly, the data on the demographic boom in Afghanistan is something quite unusual for a country that has experienced so much warfare. Major wars usually have an extremely negative impact on demographics, such as Syria which has been suffering from a demographic crisis due to the war and the huge outflow of refugees. Afghanistan also has a huge outflow of refugees, but the country has a demographic boom that has seen the population grow by 20 million since Soviet troops withdrew from the country in 1988-89.
Most young Afghanis do not have prospects for development and employment, leaving many people with few choices – fight for the Taliban, Afghan Army or another militia, get involved in the opium industry, or illegally migrate to the West. Since the Taliban are likely to come to power, it cannot be expected that any significant changes in development and job opportunities will occur.
It is estimated that with such a high birth rate, Afghanistan will double its population again in the coming decades. In that sense, Afghanistan can become a fairly large country, which, provided that at some point it is not translated into some dynamic economic development, will only be a generator of instability in the region.
With a new regime likely taking over Kabul, a young and dynamic population, and severe issues of employment, the question still remains whether the West will capitulate and recognize a Taliban government or not. With Afghanis illegally migrating to Europe en mass via Iran and Turkey, it will likely be inevitable for the European Union to engage in discussion with a Taliban government. As for Washington, that still remains to be seen.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- Taliban Seized Seven Afghan Air Force Helicopters In Herat, Helmand & Ghazni (Video, Photos)
- Taliban Fighters Reach Kabul Doorstep After Capturing Logar Capital (Videos)
- The Taliban’s Blitzkrieg Continues: Kandahar, Four Other Provincial Capitals Claimed By The Group (Videos)