Afghanistan: A prediction
The Taliban have taken over in what looks to be a bloodless war. The previous government was corrupt and self serving. They had a sugar daddy — The US Government. Supported by the US political military community in fear of being seen as another failure of US military intervention and also as a way to fund the military’s economic machine.
The Taliban will most likely adopt a similar formula to the GCC and Iranian formula. That is an Islamic State with a government that is run by theocratic rulers. In the case of the Taliban it will more or less like Iran since there are no tribal leaders that would be accepted as King.
They will need money in order to show that their government is legitimate. The money they need will come from the GCC and even possibly western governments on the premise that they serve their people.
It is doubtful that the Taliban will make the same mistakes that led to foreign intervention. They will avoid radical groups and curb their religious affiliates and prevent them from becoming overly aggressive with the public.
They will insist on following strict Islamic rules based on their long tradition. They may allow parts of Afghanistan to be slightly more liberal than other parts, i.e. Kabul. This will be in part to avoid massive exodus and criticism from the whole world and especially the GCC.
Qatar will probably play a very large role in that they have the resources and political will to be a mediator. No doubt Qatar will emphasise that the Taliban take a more moderate approach to implementing Shariah rules when it pertains to women.
A smart move would be for the the US to quickly acknowledge the Taliban and set up at least a small Embassy to engage in dialog with the new government. The goal would be to help people stay in their country and not immigrate to the US. Their life would not be much different economically nor culturally. The American way of life would not be very friendly to them with xenophobia on the loose. The US could continue their humanitarian aid. The US and Europe would need to rehabilitate their relationship with the new Afghanistan.
The best policy would be to offer help and not advise. The danger in ignoring the Taliban will lead to other players stirring up tribal infighting which would make the Taliban governments hold on power weak, leading to atrocities committed by radical elements in their midst.
Pakistan and Iran will have a lot to say in Afghanistan due to their material support for the resistance. If the new Afghani government can gain support from moderate Islamic and western countries, they would most likely look for greater independence from their neighbours.
Failure to provide funding to the Taliban could result in an emphasis in the drug trade or other illicit but lucrative sources of income.
So, my prediction is that people will be amazed at how well the Taliban govern in stark contrast to the fear mongering of many regarding the apocalyptic ending feared.
Why I say this is as an organisation in exile and having fought and survived for many years in the shadow, they have learned a lot about the rest of the world. They will avoid provoking what they know will be over-the-horizon hands off retaliation by western countries. They know that more money will be poured into military weapons that don’t include boots on the ground. They will be fearful of giving green lights to these kinds of military actions knowing full well that there are plenty of hawkish politicians looking for some face saving.
Women will have to wear head scarfs and most likely if they are educated will only be allowed in certain fields such as general education and health care. There will be some consternation and infighting in the Taliban with and amongst the tribes. The many sub-leaders of the Taliban will look for positions and governorships as rewards. There will be mistakes made and some atrocities, but these will be corrected in a public way by the government in order to show the reset of the world they are in full control.
The main issues the Taliban will face are the thousands of fighters that have known nothing but being warriors. They will need compensation and training in a new kind of military. Most likely they will be trained and assumed into the Afghan army by those that were American trained.
The Taliban will not tolerate any more outside influence, not from western, nor neighbours nor from radical groups. They will see this as their chance at being a legitimate political entity that reflects who the Afghan people are more culturally.
The US might see a possibility to resume some self defence training as a show of good faith. The Taliban in Kabul may have to fend off spin off Taliban that are looking for a more hardline regime. Expect some conflicts to take place once the government starts to form and take over official duties.
The Taliban will want to keep as many professionals, engineers and technical people and will thus show a certain amount of leniency. They will want to have a technically modern government and for this they need to keep people in their current jobs otherwise the country would see a complete collapse in their infrastructure and chaos will ensue.
They will institute rules and regulations for charities, but allow them to operate as long as they don’t violate the conditions of their agreements.
It is unlikely there will be a counter insurgence since the Afghan military and other groups didn’t have the will or courage to put up any kind of defence. All Afghanis new the Taliban were unstoppable and this is because of their culture and knowledge of their own people. Those who wanted a more western way of life were in the minority.
Western governments will opt out of support of other counter factions in order to avoid yet another cold war.
The US will have plenty of domestic problems of its own with ultra right groups to contend with. Overall, the Taliban will be just another theocratic ruling party in the Middle East.
With a little bit of luck, they may be one of the better countries in the region when it comes to stability and predictability.