Written by Julian Macfarlane.
The MSM (MainStreetMindwashers) will have you believe the US State Department line that the Taliban is doomed — hamstrung by terrorism, political stability, and social problems such as co-ed education not to mention, political recognition and a lack of fashion sense. Really, those white robes, sandals and turbans? Damned Islamic hippies!
The US so has to have clout, despite its failures. Even if that “clout” is mostly posturing. The Emperor has no clothes? No, just no clout.
Issues or Non-Issues?
Of course, Afghanistan does have problems with terrorism — mostly with US-funded and supported groups, including Al Qaeda offshoots, ISIS and ETI. To the extent that US atrocities over the last 20 years have built general revulsion against America, these groups are regarded as proxies, boosting support for the Taliban even among non-Pashtuns. In Afghanistan, the US of A is a terrorist nation.
Political stability is important given Afghanistan’s multi-ethnic divisions and long-standing feuds between tribes and cultures and conflicts over land and water.
But today’s Taliban is not yesterday’s. It has been building a national consensus at the local level for at least a decade.
The courts installed under the American-installed government were corrupt and often the tools of land expropriation and corruption, with the situation worsening under Hamid Karzai. Bribery and extortion were part of the game.
By contrast, the Taliban offered justice — free mediation of all disputes — tribal, criminal and personal.
Local Taliban could be abusive — if not just brutal. But, by and large, they offered honesty and order. But to counter this, the Quetta Shura, an Islamic consensus of Taliban elders in Pakistan, set up teams to travel through Pakistan and look for complaints against the Taliban of corruption, brutality, or other mistreatment, including intimidation. They enforced the Taliban code of conduct — the La’ihi, the first tenet of which is obedience to the Spiritual Leader, once the One-Eyed Omar, now that obscure fellow with the unpronounceable name.
The Taliban code prohibits taking bribes, theft, kidnapping for ransom, torture, arbitrary execution, and demands adherence to legal, political and military structures. Also: no smoking. By and large, they do not commit atrocities on the scale of the US military.
The Shura also distributed phone numbers nation-wide to report abuse.
The Taliban 1.0 did not have social media. But today 40% of Afghans have internet access and 90% have mobile phones so the Taliban’s version of 911 is effective.
The new Taliban 2.0 are media savvy, despite being banned by Facebook, and YouTube (but not Twitter) although don’t really care, since their focus is on their domestic audience and not the brainwashed millions in New York and London.
Technology changes things. It changes culture.
But some aspects of culture don’t change — or change very slowly.
The Taliban is in its own way democratic. Afghans in fact have one of the oldest versions of direct democracy — jirga assemblies, which operate at the village, tribal, and provincial level — and formerly, the national level as well.
Consensus rules. But expediency determines consensus. And even sharia law bends to that.
DAYMIRDAD, Afghanistan: In a village deep in the mountains of central Afghanistan that has been ruled by the Taliban for a quarter of a century, women openly work alongside men at a vital health clinic
You may not like the Taliban’s enforcement of conservative Islamic rules about women, but these rules are a result of majority opinion in the villages, each a mini-Red State.
Despite popular opinion in the West, Islam is not inherently misogynistic. The Prophet gave women a status that they had not enjoyed before as equal (but different) partners before God.
As a result, you will see social evolution in Afghanistan but it will be gradual and take time.
Yes, while the Afghans don’t care much about other countries and would just prefer to be left alone, they still want political recognition — because the country is broke. They realize that the US will not recognize them as legitimate — nor free up their cash reserves, which they have effectively stolen, just as they have done with other countries such as Venezuela. So they want recognition — and help — from countries that matter — those in the neighborhood — Russia, China, Pakistan, Turkey, Iran, and the “Stans”.
Geography as your junior high teacher kept on telling you, matters a lot.
China has money. And Big Plans — namely, the BRI.
The Chinese are justifiably worried about ETIM, the East Turkistan Independence Movement, which is an Uighur separatist movement of fundamentalist extremists. Despite” Turkistan” in the name it has nothing to do with nearby Turkmenistan which a.) wants Chinese money and a place the BRI b.) doesn’t have many Uighurs, who just speak a dialect of Turkic. ETIM is, of course, supported by the US in their century and a half racist war against the Yellow Peril.
So China will offer national recognition IF:
A.) Afghanistan is stable enough that China can carry out mining projects for Afghanistan’s substantial mineral wealth.
B.) ETIM rooted out and put down
C,) the Taliban can control its borders with the “Stans”.
Recently, ETIM carried out a Shia mosque bombing killing over 100 people, using an Uighur suicide bomber. However, ISIS claims responsibility, according to the Amaq News Agency! The contradiction gives credence to the theory that ISIS and ETIM are really one and the same — both supported by the CIA, which imported fighters from both into Afghanistan from Syria. Every ISIS and ETIM atrocity is “Made in America”.
The Taliban 1.0 was supportive of the Uighurs. Taliban 2.0 is not — it is determined to root them out — as a foreign force trying to stir up ethnic tensions, particularly between the Shia Hazari and the various Sunni groups who the country needs to reconcile to prosper.
Today’s Taliban needs the cooperation of Shiite Iran. And, they will leverage support from China and Iran, and even Russia. Not mention, Pakistan.
China has already offered the Taliban US $31 million in short term loans with the Taliban very eager to take part in BRI.
A key partner with China in the STO, the Russians want stability on their frontiers in the south, so they need Afghanistan ability to deal with the centrifugal forces generated by ethnic division and conflict of the kind that the Americans have always sought to stir up, not just in Afghanistan, but throughout the Middle East, if not the rest of the world. They are especially concerned about Afghanistan’s poppy fields, which used to fill the coffers of the CIA and its minions in Kabul — a kind of “black funding” and fuel opioid use in the Russosphere. For Moscow too, ETIM, TIP, ISIS, and Al Qaeda are really the same –terrorists protected by the Americans in Idlib in Syria.
Growing and selling opium is a sin under Islam, which was tolerated by the Taliban in the villages, which had no other way of supporting themselves. With the CIA gone, all the profits go to Afghanistan.
But the Taliban’s spiritual leader Hibatullah Akhundzada is likely to issue a fatwa at some point, banning growing poppies, especially since opium use in Afghanistan, already banned, is increasing.
A Shura Government and Expediency
If you look at the Taliban government what do you see?
Yup. This is a shura, an Islamic council. A government that is very, very serious about sharia, a set of moral principles which is in not quite as ideologically inflexible as US foreign policy or law.
As I have said, expediency determines consensus in Afghanistan. The Americans long history of international failures since 1945 is the result of an inherently unrealistic supremacist mindset, with no morality whatsoever.
Afghanistan needs to get Chinese, Iranian and Russian investment, mineral extraction and mining, agriculture, commerce, especially agriculture. The Taliban 2.0 it must also play nice with former Soviet satellites in the Russo-Chinese-Iranian nexus — the various ‘Stans’.
The talks in Doha, much trumpeted by the MSM (MainStreamMuddiers), who want to say that the US still has a voice in the ME, merely demonstrate that the Taliban can do negotiation and are different from their predecessors. They don’t actually expect anything from the US — on the contrary. But they need to show others — Putin, and Xi and the leaders of Iran and Pakistan and the ‘Stans — that they can talk to anyone.
Also: the Taliban won in Afghanistan: the US lost — so the mullahs have the advantage — against a backdrop of vast mineral wealth and a strategic geopolitical position.
They also have several Trump cards. One used to be Trump himself — but that is now a Biden card — not much difference. The US is always led by idiots.
What happens next?
You can expect the US to continue its policies of economic warfare and subversion since they do not learn from failure and their policies are an expression of culture — CIA culture — and not reason or morality. They do not care about international law or the principles of justice as we can see from their recent extradition of Alex Saab is a good example and their persecution of Julian Assange. Hence: blowback. In the case of the Saab extradition, it will improve Maduro’s majority in the upcoming Venezuelan elections.
The Taliban will do some cat-herding, to get consensus in the villages nation-wide. You may expect something eventually like a national loya jirga which they had years ago and maybe some flexible use of sharia, which is implicit in their traditions. They will mount a national campaign against ETIM, ISIS, and TIP. Their image will improve as the US’s decays.
That will ensure eventual recognition, investment, which is already coming, and possibly military cooperation of some form or another. Not to mention their part in BRI. The Taliban’s image will improve as the US’s decays.
What goes round, comes ‘round.
Julian Macfarlane is a Canadian Tokyo based Media Analyst known for his accurate predictions of events in Asia, the ME and the West, especially electoral processes. He correctly predicted Brexit, the rise of Corbyn (and subsequent fall), the effect of sanctions on Russia, the course of Russian intervention in Syria, the election of Donald Trump, the confused 2020 US election and Biden’s foreign policies and many other events.
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