Taliban’s Struggle To Rule Afghanistan

Afghanistan gained independence after the Americans left the country in August of 2021 and have been ruling the country for less than half a year. The Taliban controlled over 70% of the country as the US soldiers announced they would leave the country. The militants quickly took Kabul even before the Americans were gone and have been running the country since August.

The Taliban have been struggling to govern the country since they took over from the Americans. The militants have struggled to contain ISIS who continue to attack Taliban government officials in Kabul and the eastern parts of the country. They also have been facing assassinations of several high-level Taliban leaders in the last few months, economic hardship, and border skirmishes.

If this were not enough, the Taliban are having to put down protests in the northern part of the country. Uzbeks in the north of Afghanistan have led protests against the Taliban and briefly expelled the militants.

The current situation with the ethnic Uzbeks has just been the latest in a long line of disasters of the current Taliban rule. If the Taliban cannot hold the country together then militants like ISIS would take over the country.

Creation of The Taliban

Before the USSR invaded, Afghanistan was a Socialist country aligned with Communists. The country was extremely liberal and was even part of the hippy trail that went through Pakistan and India. The Taliban was formed from Mujahideen fighters that had fought the USSR as they strafed towns and dropped toy mines on the Afghan people. The USSR pulled out of Afghanistan in 1989 and the Afghan government was toppled in 1992 by civil war.

The Northern Alliance, which was backed by India and Russia, took control of the country and fought the conservative Taliban. This civil war led the Taliban to take full control of the country in 1996 and ruled it before the September 11th attacks. After 2001, the Taliban waged a guerrilla campaign against foreign forces for 20 years before the US left the country.

Withdrawal Of The United States

When Americans announced their withdrawal, the Afghan air force crumbled. Afghan pilots began to flee to neighboring countries and the army lacked air support. This led to the military’s collapse and the Taliban easily took over Kabul.

Once the Taliban took Kabul and the Americans had left, a small group of Tajiks in the Panjshir Valley declared they would fight the Taliban and wrestle the country away from the conservative ideologues. This lasted a week before the Taliban surrounded the valley with their new American weapons and took the valley with very few casualties.

At this point, the Taliban were the uncontested rules of the mountainous country. They had fought for decades against the American-led coalition, the Russians, and the foreign-backed governments. Now that the Taliban are in control of the country they are struggling to rule.

The Americans cut off financial aid to the country and the currency collapsed, famine has gotten so bad the Taliban have resorted to paying government employees in wheat that was donated by foreign governments, the Taliban are fighting insurgents of their own while dealing with border skirmishes, and are now the rules of Afghanistan are tasked with putting down Uzbek protests.

Source: Wikipedia

Uzbek Protests

The Taliban are mainly Pashtun and have been accused of discrimination against the Uzbeks, Tajiks, and Hazaras as they prioritize putting Pashtuns in positions of power. The Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Hazaras are populated throughout the north of the country while the Pashtuns make up a majority of the population of Afghanistan. This discrimination could lead to greater unrest if the Taliban are distracted by any number of crises in the country.

Makhdoom Alam was the most senior Uzbek commander in the Taliban forces and was the police chief of the province Faryab. He was arrested after unrest in the north of the country and was transferred to Kabul where he is currently held. After his arrest, hundreds of people took to the streets in northern Afghanistan to protest Taliban mismanagement of the country.

Uzbeks complained of being sidelined in the Taliban movement and expelled the Taliban from the province. Taliban’s Minister of Agriculture was quoted as saying that demonstrations and protests have no room in Sharia Law and that they are part of Western democracy. The Taliban has sent more vehicles to Faryab to head off any more protests in the area.

These protests are a direct threat to the Taliban because this could cause an uprising in the country. The Taliban cannot allow sections of the Uzbeks or the Tajiks to lead a revolution so soon into their rule of Afghanistan. If these protests spread, it would stretch the Taliban’s resources which would allow ISIS to take advantage of the situation and overrun the Taliban in the east.


Once they were fully in control of the country, they appointed Taliban leaders to take over official roles throughout the country. This allowed ISIS to target Taliban leaders which have been hindering the Taliban’s ability to operate in the country. Regional intelligence chiefs have had their houses burned down, IEDs have targeted Taliban convoys, and Jirgas that hosted senior Taliban officials have had shootings. This is the violence that has occurred in just the last two days.

This points to a continued level of violence in the country as years of war have left the country awash in guns, ammo, and people that have known nothing but war. These weapons have fallen into the hands of ISIS which has proceeded to use them against the Taliban. These constant IEDs and attacks on Taliban government officials’ homes could cripple the Taliban in the long term. As the Taliban are forced to become more public, they are putting their senior officials at risk of being assassinated. After enough assassinations, the government could collapse and ISIS could take over large swaths of the country.

Afghan Border Skirmishes

This does not even include the trouble Afghanistan is having on its borders. The Taliban have been having brief, monthly, skirmishes on the Durand line. The Pashtuns span the international border between the two countries and heavily populate critical regions in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. Pakistan is a historical ally that has supported the Taliban even when they were fighting the Russians. But toppling Pakistan and installing a more conservative government could be a boon for the Taliban and benefit many people in Pakistan as well.

The Taliban are also having conflicts with Iran on their southern border. They have been fighting brief skirmishes with Iranian border guards. This is more than likely due to disagreements while drug trafficking heroin across the border than actual problems between the Taliban and the Iranians. The Iranians have a long relationship of arming the Taliban and moving their heroin which fueled the war against American. There will likely be close relations between the Iranians and the Taliban for the next few decades.

There was even a death of a Turkmen on the border with Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. This represents a serious event for countries like China and the European Union that import natural gas from Turkmenistan. This country is largely nomadic but has money coming in due to natural gas pipelines.

Economic Hardship

These border issues are nothing compared to the food shortage that is occurring in the country. The currency has gone to zero and the Taliban have resorted to paying government employees with kilos of wheat. The new Afghan government has warned western states that a mass exodus will happen if the country cannot get the economy back on track.

President Biden has said that the US will give an extra $308 million in aid to the Taliban government after already giving $782 million since the Taliban took control in October. This amounts to over a billion dollars in less than 6 months. This money will not go to humanitarian assistance but will support Taliban government employees. This aid helps keep the Taliban in power and prop up their government while they deal with ISIS and problems with their heroin exports.

This aid will help the Taliban in their fight against ISIS by winning the hearts and minds of the Afghan population. It might also help aid Pakistan which would collapse if ISIS were able to take over large chunks of Afghanistan. This would be catastrophic for China as they are expanding their monopoly on rare earth minerals trade in Pakistan and developing a deep water port in Pakistan-controlled Baluchistan. China would also lose a close ally and would further isolate the hermit kingdom.

An ISIS takeover of Afghanistan would also be rough for Russia. Central Asia just had to deal with an uprising in Kazakhstan that needed Russia’s “little green men” to stabilize the country. Russia has also deployed resources to stabilize Tajikistan to head off any unrest that would rock the country. Tajikistan had a crippling civil war in the 1990s where the government fought Islamists revolutionaries. An ISIS takeover of Afghanistan would put Russia’s and China’s spheres of influence at risk and would cause those countries to expend more resources in Central Asia.

A fall of the Taliban could let more moderate militants take over the country but it could also allow ISIS and foreign militants to take over large areas of the country. This could also lead to countries like Iran, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan being destabilized. Having these countries collapse would be a regional nightmare for every country on their border. Russia and China would struggle to contain militants in the mountainous countries where there are an infinite number of places to hide and communities that are sympathetic to the cause.

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