The world is holding its breath as it tries to understand what a new Taliban movement is like. In addition to religious ideology, it is worth looking at the tribal code of the Patan people, writes Kaius Niemi, the editor-in-chief of Helsingin Sanomat.
Only the wars of the past were visible from the dusty windows of the SUV, even though a new one was already underway. It was November 2001. The extremist Islamic Taliban movement that ruled Afghanistan had had to withdraw from the capital. I was on my way through the mountain passes towards Kabul.
The little ones were full of broken Soviet tanks from the time when the future of Afghanistan was destroyed.
The scale is almost impossible to understand. The Soviet Union directed almost all of its warfare in the 1980s against the rural civilian population in order to destroy the service routes of the resistance mujahedeen guerrillas. Estimates of the number of dead Afghans reach up to two million. A large number of people fled to neighboring countries. There were a couple of million internally displaced people alone. All this in a country of only 13.5 million people at the time.
Alun since the Soviet Union was concerned about the slippage of politically unstable Afghanistan out of its sphere of interest as U.S.-backed guerrillas revolted against the country’s divisive Marxist leadership. The Soviet Union invaded the country in the name of a similar yya agreement as it had with Finland.
The root causes of the current state of Afghanistan are to be found in the systematic destruction sown by the Soviet Union, the tactics of the burned country, and U.S. support for Islamist mujahedeen. So Afghans are also still victims of the Cold War.
When our car convoy arrived in Kabul in November 2001, part of the capital’s center seemed completely destroyed. However, the destruction was not caused by Taliban or U.S. bombings but stemmed from the civil war that followed the Soviet occupation in the 1990s. The fighting between the guerrilla groups had collapsed the Afghan state. Therefore, the rapid progress of the Taliban movement was initially welcomed in the West as well.
For Pakistan, the Taliban represented stability on its own northwestern border because its strategic focus was on managing a hostile anti-Indian border. At the same time, Pakistan was working with its partner countries to create a monster from the Taliban that would stone its citizens and provide a safe haven for international terrorism.
Consumable the events of the week in Kabul have been like a quick rewind to recent history. The Taliban took over the capital as quickly as they once left. The Kabul people discovered a week ago that power had changed in just one day. Equally, in November 2001, Kabulians rubbed their eyes in the morning after the Taliban, who had been holding the capital in fear for years, suddenly stepped out of the way of the U.S. Air War.
The Taliban still did not lose anywhere. For two decades, it was a constant struggle, able to create a shadow administration especially for the countryside. In the end, the United States gave up. Admittedly, it happened as early as February 2020, when Washington made a deal with the Taliban: Americans would withdraw this year if the Taliban no longer allowed international terrorist networks into their territories. Human rights, and Afghan women in particular, were virtually completely ignored.
Now the whole world is excited about what the new Taliban is like.
One of the biggest changes is that the political leadership of the movement sees it as a threat to international isolation. For a decade now, the Taliban has been unequivocally hostile to foreign development projects or to infrastructure and services maintained by the central government. The Taliban’s rule of war in Layha prohibits the killing of civilians and the destruction of public property, writes leading Visiting Expert Olli Ruohomäki in the Foreign Policy magazine published in May.
The Taliban is still a worldview anti-modernist movement. Its current model state is thought to be a slightly stricter version of Saudi Arabia. The Taliban is strongly influenced by the ancient tribal code of the Patan population pashtunwali. Its most important part is Badal, which defines the anatomy of honor and revenge. Badal adheres to the principle of cooling tooth tooth. If a man does not have women, land and rifles on his shoulder at home, the man is worthless and naked, the non-fiction writer Tapio Tamminen has described.
The Taliban can’t be trusted, even if it seems a couple of draws more self-calming. The movement’s extremely old-fashioned foundation means the inevitable withdrawal, especially in cities, at a time when the future was destroyed a long time ago.
The author is the corresponding editor-in-chief of HS.