Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

Recommended Reads

Taliban Rule at 2.5 Years

2 min

CTC Sentinel, 20 January 2024

An extensive analysis by American University of Afghanistan’s Haroun Rahimi and USIP’s Andrew H. Watkins in a Westpoint publication, looking at – in the papers two main parts – governance and leadership dynamics, and their “Engaging with the Outside World.”

Among their conclusions:

  • “In two and a half years, the Taliban have made a lot of progress, according to their own priorities, in the transition from a militant movement to an ever-centralizing governing entity.”
  • ISKP, despite proving capable of targeting foreign institutions and assassinating senior officials inside Afghanistan throughout 2023, “the group is far from posing an existential threat to the Taliban’s authority. … Per the Taliban’s own assessment, the greatest threat to their rule is posed by internal resentments and inequities, which keeps their attention fixated inward.”
  • The Taliban face “capacity gaps in most technical areas of governance, threadbare economic resources for services and development, and the cloud of threats or missed opportunities that result from their quasi-pariah status in the outside world.”
  • “Their leaders … have demonstrated an interest in long-term planning, to the extent their resources allow, but without any evident consideration of the possibilities that a fundamental reset with Western donors might enable. Faced with potential economic growth versus a perceived necessity of resisting foreign interference, the Taliban have—for now—clearly opted for the latter.”
  • “in discussions with foreigners throughout 2023, a wide range of Taliban officials evinced the belief that their immovability would continue to produce gains; the world would come to them, just as the Americans did at the negotiating table, presaging their victory.”
  • and, probably most controversial, that “[t]his governing force … retains an eagerness to engage and co-exist with the West on good terms—in ways that align with their interests.” (“Yet, they refuse to bend in the face of foreign demands, an impasse that now largely defines their relations with the outside world.”