With the common enemy gone, would the simmering tensions within the Taliban movement lead to a full-fledged split?
This came as no surprise, since similar examples of rebel movements capable of mobilising forces and resources at critical junctures can be found throughout history. In theory, such an approach is only conceivable when such groups are supported by a player in the international relations, such as a nation-state, mostly major powers. In this case, it was (and still is) a regional player, Pakistan, which extended resources and procedures for insurgent patronage. It is worth noting that the Taliban leaders were visited by an Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) delegation led by Faiz Hameed just a few days after they arrived in Kabul. Following that, such visits grew routine, and open connections with Pakistani security forces in Kabul and other Afghan cities became the norm. As a result, it would not come as a surprise to learn that the Taliban’s military and political success during the conquest of Kabul was obviously linked to the Pakistani military's full cooperation and backing. Diplomacy and Islamabad's second track have historically denied this fact, but it does not raise major concerns within the expert community. Insurgent groups have won a few battles in the past, but following successful and long-term government cases are much more rare. That is because, once the enemy is defeated, what is theoretically required for the cohesive existence of any insurgent organisation—a shared enemy—vanishes. The Taliban now has a strong control over Aghanistan. The Taliban have no opponents capable of undermining their positions in terms of military, political, or even economic resources. At the same time, there have been no meaningful changes in the radical ideology of the Taliban. It is still a terrorist organisation with power over a UN member state.
Military operations involving the employment of terrorist diversion technologies, as well as the actions of tiny mobile groups, made it impossible for the Afghan Army and police to mount a successful fight against them.
Outside and inside Afghanistan, more than 10 opposition organisations, parties, and associations have already been formed. The Afghanistan Freedom Front, the Afghan National Liberation Front, the Afghan National Resistance Front, and a Supreme Council of National Resistance in Turkey are all led by powerful warlords and governors. In actuality, such groupings remain lethargic and, it appears, lack real resource competences and a support network. However, first of all, we are dealing with a political process that tends to change. Second of all, historically, such conflicts are linked to great and regional powers’ will and changing policies.
The Taliban have no opponents capable of undermining their positions in terms of military, political, or even economic resources.
The US, as the most powerful actor in international affairs, outnumbers all others in terms of combined power, is the most intriguing player in Afghan history. Obviously, Washington would want to move on from the Afghan issue and focus on other critical issues, such as the growing threat posed by China. These are deep geoeconomic and geopolitical challenges to which the US wishes to commit all of its might and resource potential. However, Washington’s unique ability to shape social reality in world politics allows Washington to shift the Afghan policy as necessary.
The allied relations between Beijing and Islamabad are likewise noteworthy, and can be viewed through the traditional theoretical patron-client dichotomy.
As previously stated, the competitive and primary advantage of an insurgent band is intense motivation. Such a practice is only possible if there is an external (or internal) adversary. There is currently no such thing in Afghanistan. The Taliban has been left alone with Afghan’s complex economic, social, and political issues. According to the United Nations, the country is facing a humanitarian disaster and hunger. External financial reservoirs are frozen, and there is little reason to assume that the Taliban will gain access to them very soon. Over the last few decades, the country’s budget has been built primarily on the backs of foreign financial support. The economy is still in a state of flux, and export potential is essentially non-existent. Afghanistan's economy is a narconomics. The movement’s top leadership is primarily made up of members of the old school. These are senior citizens who have spent the majority of their lives in Jihad in the underground. The Taliban, as an institution, has never been involved in the development of economic or political institutions. The Taliban simply do not know what to do or how to establish more or less functional systems. It is important noting here that the conditions in which Afghanistan found itself under Taliban administration are exceedingly hostile. Six months later, the dictatorship is still not recognised by any member of the international community. As a result, the insurgents, who only know how to conduct sabotage and terrorist war, found themselves alone with a wrecked economy and a multi-million population facing starvation and humanitarian disaster. Any system is doomed to self-destruction in such circumstances, as internal conflicts arise. All of this is taking place against a backdrop of deteriorating economic and resource potential, which foreign sponsors can only partially counteract. Cases that can be viewed as the presence of a possible dispute with the patron have become more common. So, the world media reported on clashes between the Taliban and Pakistani security forces and some cases of attacks by Afghans on Taliban leaders in the provinces.
Tajikistan is deeply concerned about the Taliban's rise, but the fact that it lacks strong sponsors and is bound by allied duties with Moscow will not exacerbate its anti-Taliban stance.
These variables combine to create a situation that has the potential to destabilise the movement in the medium term—a conflict inside the movement. The Taliban's contradictions are becoming more evident. We can explore the presence of two entrenched competing factions. They have a mild, underlying conflict that is accompanied by constant encounters, relationships, and conversation. Some would describe this system of interactions as a rivalry amongst the many elite groups in the government, rather than a conflict. The distinction between silovoki versus systemic liberals, for example, is well-known in Kremlin studies. This remark can be agreed upon, but it is worth contemplating in the context of a volatile state structure, where such conflicts might rapidly escalate into a military confrontation. The Afghan conditions do not assume institutions, a system of checks and balances. Moreover, in the conditions of a decrease in the nutritional base, an economic crisis (collapse), and an increase in protests, conflict is likely to occur. At the same time, it is worth emphasising that the Taliban manages to maintain a unified command, at least in Kabul, despite all the difficulties. However, given the above factors, such a structure may undergo certain transformations.
External financial reservoirs are frozen, and there is little reason to assume that the Taliban will gain access to them very soon.
The clan sought in every way possible to preserve the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan's distinctive achievements. It was not a supporter of the indiscriminate destruction of the political system's infrastructure, and was not so dogmatic even about the flag of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. They are primarily in charge of the humanitarian and economic ministries. Their ties to Pakistan and the ISI, are substantial but conflicting. The second group, represents extremists, Emirate supporters, and a return to 1990s behaviors. They are mostly led by law enforcement authorities.
Many members of this class were participating in the negotiation process and were better integrated into foreign interactions than the Taliban leaders.
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Georgi Asatryan is a Ph. D. associate professor Moscow State University and Plekhanov Russian University of Economics.Read More +