The relationship of extremist Islamic rulers in Afghanistan to the Internet is very different from 20 years ago.
“Back school in the new Afghanistan. ”
That’s what the English accompanying text of the video reads. The video is 12 seconds long and shows a group of girls cramming in through the school gate. The girls look happy.
Video is a messaging service On Twitter. It put it there the night before Tuesday Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for international affairs for the extremist Islamic Taliban movement.
Life goes on largely unchanged, Suhail Shaheen wants to communicate.
After the Taliban took over the country’s capital, Kabul, in mid-August, Shaheen assured – also on Twitter – that the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” would guarantee safe conditions for diplomats and aid workers in Afghanistan.
Spokesman Shaheen’s suites are just one indication of how the Taliban’s attitude to communication has changed.
“The Taliban has had a social media strategy for years,” says the American ABC channel interviewed by a researcher Tom Joscelyn, who works at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank in Washington.
“They reacted quickly – faster than what Afghanistan did [syrjäytetyllä] the government used to. ”
The last time the Taliban was in power was between 1996 and 2001, when there was no social media. The internet was, but it was forbidden. The Taliban also banned television, videos and music.
Violations of the prohibitions were severely punished. For example, owning a VCR could result in a libel punishment that was enforced in public.
“The Taliban understand that information warfare is modern warfare.”
The two of you over the past decade, the Taliban’s approach to information flow has been twofold. On the one hand, the Taliban insurgents quite often downgraded base stations. It was a tactic of warfare in the provinces.
On the other hand, the Taliban have realized the power of smartphones and social media. That, in turn, is a strategic choice and more significant.
It is in the interests of the Taliban, at least for the time being, to keep the data flowing. This way it can enter its own story.
There are an estimated 22 million mobile phone users in Afghanistan. There are nearly 40 million inhabitants, a significant proportion of whom are children – meaning most adults use a mobile phone.
“In cities, all Afghans have smartphones, and I think that will be [Talebanille] useful, ”said the American The New York Times interviewed by NPS Professor at the U.S. Naval Graduate School Thomas Johnson.
“They [Taleban-johtajat] will use social media to tell the people how the people should act. ”
Social media could be a significant explanation for the Taliban’s ability to take over Afghanistan so easily.
“It’s not about education and firepower, it’s about hearts and minds,” the American wrote Richard Stengel published in The New York Times on Monday in its expert column. Stengel has worked in the U.S. administration to develop countermeasures to the propaganda of the extremist Islamic organization Isis.
“Hearts and Minds” is a standard vocabulary for the wars waged by the United States. In other words, the population should be sidelined.
“The Taliban understands that information warfare is modern warfare,” Stengel writes.
Last in hand it is about who offers the most credible story. In recent weeks, the Taliban have cannoned their message with the power of thousands of Twitter accounts.
The importance of Twitter is further enhanced by the fact that Facebook and Youtube, for example, are closing accounts that distribute Taliban content. Twitter has not made the same decision because the Taliban is not on the official U.S. terrorist list.
To the international public, the Taliban is spreading a harmonious message. The Taliban has also communicated calmly to the home audience.
On the other hand, extremist Islamic rulers do not need to appear in a threatening tone, because Afghans already know in advance what the consequences of their opposition will be.
Afghanistan in the media field, a change of power has devastating consequences.
A large number of internet users have deleted their own message history in recent weeks to destroy evidence of “wrong” activity. During the war, Taliban insurgents used to check the phones of people they had stopped at roadblocks.
For free media, the Taliban is destructive. According to the news agency AFP, there are about 50 TV channels, 165 radio channels and dozens of different publications in Afghanistan.
Their future is uncertain. A bunch of reporters are hiding or trying to get out of the country on evacuation flights.
“Our lives are under threat,” the reporter said Shabnam Dawran According to AFP.
Dawran is one of Afghanistan’s best-known female news anchors. He was ordered home last week because “the system has changed”.
Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen, on the other hand, reassured on Sunday that “media problems” would be tackled.
“A three-member committee has been set up in Kabul to calm the media,” Shaheen wrote on Twitter.