World News: The Taliban Remains Trapped by Association

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The Taliban's conquest of Afghanistan marks a geopolitical upheaval that Western nations will be forced to handle. But it also demands the Islamist movement weigh its ambitions as it is threatened by the Islamic State and incompressible socioeconomic realities.

In announcing the departure of its armed forces from Afghanistan for August 31, the United States, and President Joe Biden in the lead, did not imagine in any way, not so quickly in any case, that one of the largest countries in Central Asia could so quickly sink into chaos.

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The Taliban forces, who thus plowed Kabul almost without a hit, surprised the world's leading military power, and with it all Western nations, flabbergasted by the inability of the Afghan power and army to control, repel, and crush the Taliban.

This democratic sovereign power, marked by the memory of Commander Massoud (1953 - 2001), built from scratch by Westerners present on Afghan soil for 20 years, a power that had opened a salutary form of liberalization of society especially with regard to women and girls' education, suddenly dissolved under the blows of Taliban dozing places, quick to re-establish the most rigorous Islamic law.

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The panic caused by this institutional bankruptcy and the consequences of the Taliban takeover generated these ludicrous scenes of panicked populations looking for a plane to leave Afghanistan depending on the new masters of the country declared that they did not want any harm to those who had cooperated with the West.

Failure and Terrorist Threat

And while the Islamic State, with 500 to 1,000 supporters on Afghan soil, has claimed responsibility for the latest attacks that killed 85 people and wounded more than 150, several observations are necessary and question when a new page of Afghanistan seems to be turning. (the- )

First, the intervention in Afghanistan illustrates the failure to import democracy. Not that the Afghans never wanted this regime, but the imposition of it by Western nations ended in a fiasco. For if for 20 years, social and political elites have been constituted, cultivated, and educated, called to govern, but composing for the most part today those who flee the country, it appears that democracy can only be the will of a people who call it mainly with these wishes which, in a nation such as Afghanistan, culturally and socially clan, remains a question.

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Secondly, the democratic parenthesis that is closing today with the seizure of power by the Taliban and the growing threat of the Islamic State, seems to give credence to the idea that Afghanistan, where many powers have become bogged down (USSR and United States in turn), is a country structured, even structured by war and confrontation. The failure of Westerners in the democratic enterprise is also due to this underestimated reality and linked to a form of ignorance, perhaps tinged with contempt for the history of the Afghan people.

Structure and Weighting

The third point, and not insignificant for the coming months, is the structural fragility of the Taliban movement. Although the Taliban have regained control of the country without difficulty, they remain exposed to many weaknesses such as a political opposition that is currently isolated but will eventually resurface, a most precarious economy with limited and dubious revenues because it revolves around poppy cultivation and above all an obvious fragility with regard to the Islamic State whose ambitions and discourse far exceed those of the Taliban.

However, should we not see in this unexpected fragility a source, relative and limited admittedly, of hope that would lead the Taliban to moderate their ambitions. Thus, to prevent the flight of the Afghan intellectual elites, necessary to build the Afghanistan of tomorrow, the Taliban declared amnesty for those who had cooperated with the West. At the same time, Afghanistan's weak financial assets are currently blocked by Western nations because they are placed in foreign banks.

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The application of the most rigorous Islamic law could thus be balanced (including the rights granted to women and girls) because to govern a bloodless country in the grip of civil war in a context of significant terrorist threat, the Taliban will need foreign nations, postponing their seizure of power to a geopolitical upheaval that will have to be dealt with on both sides.

Surrounded by countries that are also particularly turbulent or politically fragile, from Iran to Pakistan to Iraq and even India, the Taliban's dream Afghanistan could end in a political and religious compromise in which the West may still have a role to play.


Bio: Olivier Longhi an opinion columnist for, has extensive experience in European history. A seasoned journalist with fifteen years of experience, he is currently professor of history and geography in the Toulouse region of France. He has held a variety of publishing positions, including Head of Agency and Chief of Publishing. A journalist, recognized blogger, editor, and editorial project manager, he has trained and managed editorial teams, worked as a journalist for various local radio stations, a press and publishing consultant, and a communications consultant.

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