OPINION: Don’t believe the New Taliban

by Dalia Ziada

Taliban today is much more brutal and dangerous than the Taliban of the 1990s.

The world has yet to recover from the shockly, the transfer of power between the American presidents Trump and Biden, in January, was much complicated than the transfer of power from the US-backed president Ashraf Ghani to Taliban. The haste and chaotic withdrawal of the US and NATO forces from Afghanistan, after twenty years, left no option to the Afghan government and military but to surrender. 

Ironically, the defunct Afghan army was bigger in size and stronger in power than some European NATO allies. The Americans trained and equipped the army well, but when they decided to leave the country, they did not bother to coordinate their departure with the Afghan military or government. Rather, they signed an agreement with Taliban, and allowed them a year to prepare themselves for this moment. In the process, the Afghan people and government were kept in the blind, until they found themselves all alone with Taliban. So, they gave up!

The tragic scenes, at Kabul Airport, of Afghan people clinging to the wheels of the American warplanes in hope to escape Taliban’s hell are a glimpse of the pain and misery that the Afghan people, especially vulnerable groups like women and children, are going to suffer on Taliban hands. Yet, the international community and leading politicians, in the west and the east, are still playing around innocent questions about Taliban; as if they are not old enough or experienced enough to remember the atrocities that Taliban had committed, not only inside Afghanistan but also worldwide, under the flag of their so-called Islamic Sharia. The dark memories of 9/11 attacks in New York are still vivid.

Among all the shocking statements made by world leaders, such as the European Union and the UNICEF, about their optimism towards Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan, one particular statement stood out. In an interview with Sky News TV, the Chief of Staff of the British Army, Nick Carter, described Taliban fighters as “country boys” that the world needs to be patient on and give them the chance to prove that they are “more reasonable” than the old Taliban. It is difficult to assume that a military commander, as experienced and smart as Carter, could be deceived by the lies Taliban are currently spreading about their openness to including women in public life and giving amnesty to the Afghans who supported US and NATO missions, over the past years.

The US and NATO chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan in a way that enabled Taliban to seize power, is one mistake that the world might forget. However, the international community leaders’ insistence on giving Taliban legitimacy and forcing the public opinion to eat their lies about supporting human rights and women’s rights and not going back to practicing terrorism against other countries, especially in the west, is a huge mistake that innocent people, all over the world, are going to pay a heavy price for.

Taliban is an Islamist extremist organization, that is now equipped with highly advanced military gear in a country that has no government or military to resist them. Do not trust Taliban when they claim that they have changed or became open-minded. Taliban today is much more brutal and dangerous than the Taliban of the 1990s. Just wait until they get the chance to show their real face. Terrorizing and killing innocent civilians based on religious identity, humiliating women, enslaving children in minor marriages, and similar inhumane atrocities, are only a small part of Taliban’s religious and political ideology, that they will never abandon. Do not believe Taliban!

Article first published on The Levant.

Dalia Ziada is Director of Liberal Democracy Institute. She writes on Militancy and Islamism, and about MENA affairs. She tweets under @DaliaZiada.