On August 15, 2021, a rapid and major political evolution happened in Afghanistan, a change that surprised the people of Afghanistan and countries involved in Afghan affairs.
On August 15 the Taliban approached the gates of the capital city of Kabul after overrunning more than 30 provinces across the country. Reportedly, the Taliban said they wanted to enter Kabul after negotiations.
However, the opposite happened. Later on in the day, the reports of then-President Ashraf Ghani’s fleeing the country were leaked to the media. Simultaneously, the Taliban announced that their forces had entered Kabul to prevent chaos and unrest in the city.
On August 15 the Taliban finally stormed into the Presidential Palace, also known as the Arg, and once again seized power following a 20-year war.
Was the Taliban’s takeover expected?
Mohammad Omar Daudzai, special envoy of the former president Ashraf Ghani to Pakistan, former interior minister and chief of staff of the office of former president Hamid Karzai, offered his perspective to TOLOnews: “A change was anticipated, but not a collapse. The poor leadership in political and military aspects caused the collapse. There were internal and foreign plots behind the escape of Dr. Ghani. It will be clarified in the future. I don’t mean to pardon Ghani.”
On the other hand, a prominent politician and former Pakistani senator, Afrasiab Khattak, in an interview with TOLOnews cited the Doha agreement--signed between the US and Taliban political office in Doha on February 29, 2020--as the reason for the political reversal on August 15 in Afghanistan.
“The Doha agreement was faulty, and the biggest fault was that it isolated the Afghan government from the process. It practically gave the Taliban a governmental status because it took a guarantee from them (the Taliban) that the Afghan soil would not be used against US and its allies. The reason for the collapse of the former government was because they (the former Afghan government) mainly relied on the West. And then it was revealed that the Western world is not with the government, but is against it, and it had been trying to undermine the government, not empower it. These two are the main reasons,” he said.
Senator Anarkali Honaryar said the political change of August 15 was shocking.
“The political reversal of August 15 was shocking for me, and for many Afghans who were not aware of deep political mainstream currents. It was a change that was a repeat of the past--which didn't yield good consequences before, nor will it now,” Honaryar said.
She criticized the US and international community, saying it was the “fault of the US, who didn’t observe the wishes of the current government and people of Afghanistan in the Doha agreement. The international community was also silent.”
The Islamic Emirate, however, has a different view on the August 15th political change.
Speaking at a conference at the Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, the acting minister of foreign affairs, Amir Khan Muttaqi, said that the transformation of August 15 was the start of peace and stability in Afghanistan.
“We wanted to enter Kabul through negotiations and agreement, but the fleeing of the leader of the former regime along with security officials put Kabul into a power vacuum; then the tribal elders and Kabul citizens asked us to come into Kabul and provide security,” he said.
What are the chances of stability in Afghanistan after the political change?
According to Mrs. Honaryar, if the international community hadn't left Afghanistan, and other countries hadn't interfered, there would have been a chance for stability.
“Yes, there is a chance for enduring stability. The Taliban should cut ties with the terrorist groups and should not allow Pakistan and other countries to destabilize Afghanistan, and if the international community continues supporting Afghanistan."
But Daudzai said that to control the current condition in Afghanistan, the Taliban needs internal unity.
“Unity within the Taliban is an important issue,” he said.
The acting foreign minister, Muttaqi, previously said in Doha that the Islamic Emirate was fully prepared to ensure stability in Afghanistan.
“As we now have control over all of Afghanistan, the situation is under proper control. It has been over 40 years that Afghanistan has been divided into (power) islands. There have been various rulers and now there is a single ruler in Afghanistan. It is a good opportunity for the Afghans and the world,” he said.
Current Status of Afghanistan and Its Challenges
According to Daudzai, the Taliban is surrounded by serious economic problems including those involving imports and exports.
“The Taliban is currently facing a serious economic meltdown. The lack of a dollar exchange with the world is a big problem. The international pressures are increasing, and the Taliban's reactive behavior increases the problem. The Taliban now need flexible and moderate politics. Due to economic challenges, the humanitarian catastrophe is increasing. Lack of balance in the neighborhood will increase the problems,” he said.
Afrasiab Khattak gives a similar view, mentioning the economic challenges, saying the people need to be fed.
Mrs. Honaryar expressed concerns over the current situation, saying that this was a chaotic and challenging situation and that a stable future cannot be guaranteed.
“The people are hungry. There are no jobs. There is a possibility of civil war. Al-Qaeda and Daesh are expanding their presence in Afghanistan,” she said.
She referred to social problems as well, saying that “women's rights were one of the important achievements of the past 20 years and the Taliban’s stance has not changed in this regard, women are the reality of Afghan society and if they are not allowed to work and get an education it will be a big challenge for the Taliban because today’s women are not like the women of the 1990s.”
However, Muttaqi said that the Islamic Emirate has not dismissed any male or female employees of the former government and that all are continuing their work.
“In the health section, 100 percent women are working, in the education section 50 percent of them are working and 70 percent of the educational departments are active. Those departments which have not reopened yet need some special organizing, as in some of the Islamic World’s countries. One area is the segregation of classes and seating of young boys and girls and the facilitation of this. In addition, there are other departments of the government, such as the reopening of the passport department, where all of the women workers were invited to attend their work. As the government departments become active, developments will be made."
Regarding Daesh, the Islamic Emirate has said repeatedly it is capable of countering the group's threats.
However, on October 8, a suicide bomber affiliated with Daesh blew himself up among worshippers gathered for Friday prayers in the northern province of Kunduz. The officials confirmed that nearly 50 people were killed and more than 150 others were wounded. Residents claimed that 120 people were killed 160 others were wounded.
The Daesh group claimed responsibility for the attack.
On October 15, Daesh carried out an attack in the southern province of Kandahar targeting a mosque and killing over 30 people and injuring over 70 others, according to local officials.
Local people, however, said the number of casualties was much higher than the official figures.
World’s engagement with Afghanistan
It has been over two months since the Islamic Emirate came to power in Afghanistan, but their government has yet to be recognized by regional and International countries.
Some countries say they are not in a rush to recognize the Islamic Emirate and they are monitoring the acts of the Taliban.
Talking on the sidelines of the UN Assembly, the Russian Federation’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said that recognition of the Taliban is not on the table.
Regarding this, Mr. Daudzai told TOLOnews: “The world’s recognition (of the Islamic Emirate) is a very complicated issue. It is connected to the policy inside Afghanistan. The Taliban need increased legitimacy inside their home (country). The world doesn’t have a single stance in this regard. For the US and its allies, the prevention of terrorism is a priority. For Russia and Turkey, the inclusion of the north (in the government) is important. China and Pakistan declared themselves winners of the regional contests. Some Arabic countries have problems with Qatar being in a high position. An inclusive state makes the issue of recognition easy for the world. The world considers the Islamic Emirate as a state of one group--the government could be formed from a specific group but the state should be inclusive.”
As long as it comes to the expectations of the Islamic Emirate, the acting foreign minister in a conference at the Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies in Doha said that the world’s reaction was positive and there were some signs of interaction in talks with foreign diplomats in Doha.
He said: “We even have been told that the relations of some countries in the future meetings will come to a normal level and you know what normal level means?”
He added: “We fully respect the legitimate requests of other governments and, in return, we also expect interaction from them. We want to have an agreement and engagement with the European Union as well. We have had effective meetings with the US and we believe that it will bring a positive impact on relations.”
Since the political change of nearly two months ago in Afghanistan, the questions regarding the political, security, and economic status remain ambiguous. There are various predictions, but only the future will bring a clear image.