The fall of Kabul to the Taliban marks the end of one tragedy and the beginning of another for the peoples of Afghanistan as if Afghanistan is a land of recurring catastrophes and its people are doomed to endless suffering. Fear, uncertainty, and confusion permeate society. Concerns about the gloomy future have taken away all hope and enthusiasm from the people. Most of the people suffer from extreme poverty, and though the people displaced by war are starving. Many young people have left their schools, colleges, and universities and headed to Iran, hoping to reach Europe via Turkey. Many families are stranded on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, and those who have reached Pakistani cities are camping in mosques, wedding halls, hotels, and outdoors.
Imperialism and reaction, which have caused this great tragedy for the people of Afghanistan, are themselves busy repairing their defeats or clustering their victories. The Taliban are intoxicated by their victory and conquest of power and are busy in an internal struggle over the spoils of war and division of political power. Many days after the conquest of Kabul, the Taliban have not been able to establish their government. This indicates that they are facing serious political challenges. The remnants of the armed forces of the puppet regime are mainly trying to save their lives and are in hiding, some have left the country, and some have gathered in Panjshir (the only province that has not been conquered by the Taliban). Some, following Abdullah and Karzai, are taking advantage of the Taliban’s amnesty, and hoping to find a place in the ranks of the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate for themselves.
The puppet regime collapsed within a few weeks, exposing the historical farce of the imperialist nation-building project. The collapse of the puppet regime is not only the defeat of the imperialist satraps, but also a great political, military, and ideological defeat of the US imperialism and its allies. To acquit themselves of humiliation, the bourgeois politicians in the imperialist countries are blaming each and the incompetence of their satraps in Afghanistan for this. But these desperate efforts will lead to nowhere, and the heavy moral, ideological and political defeat for the US imperialists is unrepairable. Many puppet regimes have collapsed when their masters have withdrawn their support, but the rapid collapse of the puppet regime in Afghanistan was dramatic and unexpected. This event was tragically followed by an explosion at the Kabul airport, which killed at least 150 people and injured 200 others, including 13 US Marines and 28 members of the Taliban.
The defeat of American imperialism in Afghanistan is like the defeat of the Soviet Union and Britain in this country, and just as the fate of Ashraf Ghani is like the fate of Najibullah and Shah Shujah.
The US imperialists are seeking to keep a presence at Kabul airport for intelligence and espionage purposes. Kabul Airport and Afghanistan airspace is still occupied by the US imperialists and their allies. Behind-the-scenes collusions between the Taliban and the US imperialists are underway. The meeting between the Taliban deputy leader Mullah Baradar and the head of the CIA is indicative of this fact. The withdrawal of the US security, intelligence, and political personnel from Kabul means the end of the military occupation of Afghanistan, but it does not mean the end of the influence of the US imperialism and other imperialists in Afghanistan. This will continue with the Taliban attracting former officials of the puppet regime such as Abdullah Abdullah and Hamid Karzai and by re-establishing the military and administrative institutions of the former regime.
The rapid and surprising victory of the Taliban shocked the people of the country. Shocking scenes of people flocking towards the airport, fleeing to Iran, Pakistan, and central Asian countries all show the people’s fear of the Taliban. The people of Afghanistan did not have illusions this time because they knew the essence of the Taliban. That is why the Taliban are trying to appear conciliatory for gaining the consent of the people and reducing their fear. The “general amnesty” of the Taliban and the promise of forming an “inclusive” government has not allayed the fears of the middle classes, intellectuals, and employees of the former regime. Women and national minorities have been excluded from the political arena, and media freedom has been further curtailed. Eighty percent of media outlets have been shut down. Women have been barred from working outside, except in the health facilities. Despite all this, the Taliban’s promises have attracted the reactionary bourgeois-feudal comprador classes and some officials of the former regime. The Taliban are not only trying to attract officials of the former regime, but they are also trying to gain the support of the US imperialists and its allies and to present themselves as acceptable, but none of the charm offensives will hide their ugly face from the masses.
Some technocrats formerly belonging to the puppet regime have shown willingness to work with the Taliban regime. The Pashtun chauvinist elements are more enthusiastic in lending support to the Taliban. In their view, the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate will buttress Pashtun chauvinism and their dominance of the state. But the non-Pashtun elements of the puppet regime are more fearful and alienated from the Taliban. However, they would reluctantly work with the Taliban regime, if the Taliban allow them a place. These sellouts, which claim to “represent” the oppressed nationalities, only care about their share in the government, whether it is in the previous puppet regime or the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate.
The Taliban speak of forming an “inclusive” government, which for the past 20 years was promised also by the puppet regimes of Karzai and Ashraf Ghani. Some have interpreted this as a sign that the Taliban have changed. There is no doubt in the last ten years, the Taliban have made changes in their diplomacy with the imperialist countries and the countries of the region, and in the way, they deal with the internal opposition and the people of Afghanistan. But as Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesperson said, there has been no change in the Taliban’s ideology and fundamental beliefs. Although, in the past decade, the Taliban have established relations with the imperialist and reactionary powers and have gained experience in this field. Especially after opening their office in Qatar and establishing relations with the countries of the world, they have acquired the skills and vigilance of diplomacy. On the other hand, during this period, urbanization has increased, and the size of workers and the educated population has enlarged. The Taliban are forced to moderate their behavior to maintain relations with these countries and to attract imperialist aid, and on the other hand, and to prevent a brain drain of political and administrative cadre from the country. The Taliban, like the previous regime, cannot change the state of the country’s economy, and as a result, strengthening the economic foundations of their government. They have inherited an economy dependent on imperialist aid and a corrupt bureaucracy from the previous regime. Another reason for the Taliban’s dependence on foreign aid is the lack of sufficient domestic income and the destruction of agriculture and industry. The Taliban cannot rely on the innovation and creativity of the masses, and therefore, they will not be essentially different from the previous regime.
In the past twenty years, the Taliban’s main slogan was to end the foreign occupation and create a government based on Islamic Sharia law. Now that they have the opportunity, they will construct a chauvinist theocracy, based on a close-minded and extremist reading of Islam, that would enact religious laws that would greatly curtail individual, social, political, and cultural freedoms.
Women, workers, socio-political activists, political parties and groups, and communists would be suppressed. The Taliban seek to impose political and cultural paralysis on society. They seek full obedience to their rule. The Mullahs will act as society’s intellectual, moral, and political guide of complaint population. Secular parties will not be allowed to operate, even the other Islamic and jihadi parties will not be allowed to operate. Oppression and suppression of rights and freedom would lead to resistance against the Taliban. The Taliban, in confronting the youth and intellectual workers, has a contradictory approach. On the one hand, they need their capacity and expertise in the administrative-political spheres, and on the other hand, the Taliban’s close-mindedness will create serious obstacles and suppress them.
Ethnic chauvinism would be another fundamental characteristic of the Taliban regime. Under the guise of Islamic unity, the Taliban rejects the demands of the oppressed nationalities, calling it against Islam. Although, the Taliban, this time, has some Uzbek, Tajiks, and Sunni Hazaras in their ranks, but this does not prevent the Taliban from concentrating political power in the hands of the Pashtun ruling classes, which will consequently lead to more social antagonisms and ethnic divisions.
Another challenge facing the Taliban is the internal divisions between the various factions, which also have an intra-ethnic dimension. Ashraf Ghani’s regime had concentrated power in the hands of the eastern Ghaljai Pashtuns, which was one factor for its internal frictions.
There are several factions within the Taliban, the two main factions are the Quetta Shura led by Mullah Haibatullah, and the Peshawar Shura led by Sirajuddin Haqqani. However, the factions led by Mullah Mansour and Mullah Yaqub are also mentioned. Therefore, the most immediate challenge facing the Taliban is the differences between the various Taliban groups on the one hand and the differences between the ranks and file and the leadership on the other. The main faction led by Mullah Haibatullah is Durrani and their differences with the Haqqani faction led by Sirajuddin Haqqani and Khalil Haqqani, who are Ghaljai, are evident. Therefore, the meaning of “inclusive” government in the first place is about a division of power among different Taliban factions. Because the main body of the Taliban leadership is from the three provinces of Kandahar, Helmand, and Uruzgan.
Other challenges facing the Taliban are the sharing of power with other ethnic groups and nationalities. Some armed forces of the former regime have congregated in Panjshir under the command of Ahmad Masoud (son of late Ahmad Shah Masoud) that want a share in political power. Some other armed forces of the puppet regime are scattered across the country along with their equipment. Disarming these forces is another problem facing the Taliban. The horrific explosion at Kabul airport has exposed the Taliban’s inability to provide security.
Externally, the Taliban government is under pressure from the imperialist and reactionary powers, and the issue of their recognition of the Taliban regime is still a matter of ambiguity. The Pakistani foreign minister in his visits to Central Asian countries and Iran is seeking the consent of these countries to recognize the Taliban government. The world recognition of the Taliban government would not alter its essence. No matter what, the Taliban regime will be theocratic and anti-human and will run counter to the interests of the toiling masses of Afghanistan. The liberation of the masses would only be achieved through a new democratic revolution, that would overthrow imperialism and bourgeois feudal comprador classes.
In short, the defeat of the US imperialists in Afghanistan demonstrated its military, political, ideological, and moral bankruptcy, and the farce of imperialist imposed nation-building project. This will help discard illusions and develop and enhance the spirit of resistance and struggle in the masses. The theocratic and violent nature of the Taliban’s regime will inevitably draw masses of the people to inevitably join the ranks of the political struggle against them. Therefore, we must properly identify and analyze the opportunities and challenges facing the party and the revolutionary struggle and prepare accordingly to meet the new challenges and channel the anti-Taliban sentiment of the masses in the service of strengthening the revolutionary struggle.
Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan
28 August 2021