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The lessons of Afghanistan: The Taliban and the future

But they were shaped up for life by the bombardments of the Soviets and more recently by American drones and missiles. They were also shaped by communist refugee camps, the “war against terrorism,” the torture interrogations, the Guantanamo prison, climate change in a desert country, much internet publicity, and the spiral of inequality and current capitalism scorched earth. They live like the rest of the world of our time, as they are leaving behind their own time.

Another common thing is to dub and typecast them as being part of Saudi Arabia Wahhabism that funded and logistically supported the Mujahideens. But the Taliban are not Arabian or Wahhabis, and their moral for society is more related to Pashtunwali than with Islam. Inclusively, at the legal level, the Taliban continue to be a school known as Hanafi (one of the four traditional major Sunni schools), far from fundamentalist Wahhabism.

The Taliban have changed and will continue to change. Will they now have to ask permission to the “west”–the most static project known to humanity– to change?

The ethnicity fan is aired with the Taliban victory

The ethnic issue is not Afghan, nor only Taliban, it is a muffled scream that echoes the world. The modern answers have been erratic, partial, and petty in offering solutions. Only if the indispensable issues are solved, viability can be provided to fragmented and embattled peoples.

This requires much knowledge and understanding, great diplomacy, contributions against poverty, and more humanitarian ingredients such as respect and solidarity, instead of kick-backs to buy or calm warlords to be useful for their businesses. This is what colonialism and imperialism have done for centuries.

For this a paused and insightful perspective is necessary and a look at the Afghan ethnicity fan to understand the previous civil wars and the face-offs and possible agreements looking forward. In the folds of the fan, we may see the profound intricacies of these Afghans and many explanations for their historic behaviors. What are they made of? Of those 3,000 years of contradictions and civilized ways to behave in face of adversity, to the difficulties of their territory and foreign impacts but also of teachings, their material and spiritual realizations, the unity of the invaders, and the fragmentation when they need to decide their own destiny.

Will this be the possibility of achieving maximum unity with an inclusive government as proposed by the Taliban and the great strides they are taking to get their homeland out of the dark as they were left? The negotiations have included former Prime Minister Karzai, opposition leader Abdullah Abdullah, the Northern Alliance, and all the representative groups, without vice-president Salleh and Ahmed Mossad of Panjshir.

Will they have the capability –all of them– to learn and transform to face the historical challenges of this difficult rebuilding process? This is the first time they have to decide their future amongst themselves, without direct interference. But the eyes of the world are on the Taliban “demons” and other ethnicities, who are also actors of the process. They are exposed to public scrutiny and their responsibilities will be visible. Who contributes and who obstructs, who bets on the general interest, and who for their place in government?

The great victory also provides lessons

A victory magnifies, it can be assumed with satisfaction and altruism, or be stagnant, maintaining a bellicose vengeance, and an infamous exercise of power. A victory inspires and allows seeing a better future for a country, wallows in its pettiness, and leaves inertia to strengthen the privileges and excesses of the victor.

A historical victory changes the victors and this is what surely will happen in Afghanistan. The Taliban are relinquishing a decisive and millenary point of their social and ethic Pashtunwali social code, as is vengeance and this could lead to being the key to understanding the profoundness of the changes that may come in this new historical era.

Reconciliation up to now of all the ethnicities, except for the rebel “Lion of Panjshir” Ahmad Masoud and his new brother in arms, Amrullah Saleh, and the former vice-president self-proclaimed interim President. This is the most radical change, the product of the victory, expressed in this strategy of engulfing the Government and the Americans in an anaconda-type operation, valley by valley, mountain by mountain, and region by region. Without fighting, gunfire, no tanks, hardly any dead, and that in Afghanistan means a great change and for others a great defeat.

The anti-imperialist victory and the defeat of the western strategy magnifies the battles of invaded countries such as Iraq, Syria, and Libya which hope to expel the same invaders. The other countries of the global south also celebrate this new situation that is being seen across the world. The terrorist organizations formed and funded by the west are also rubbing their hands and are other of the infinite issues the Taliban need to face, although their disdain for terrorism is clear.

The Taliban are complying with the height of this historical moment. They couldn’t do it in 1996, as they were a tribe of goat herders, heroic peasants, men and women displaced by the conflict but with an unscathed political and moral obligation of having faced foreign invaders and continue to do so. They could not as the owners of power absorb the rich ethnic and cultural diversity to gain legitimacy as leaders that needed to bring a country out of a great crisis. They did it alone, trapped amongst a tribal society which they did not want to modify and a state apparatus which they couldn’t form because they didn’t know what to do with it. And they failed, putting the non- Pashtun against them.

The Taliban of today are changing, have changed, and will change many things of their country. Who never learns, or changes are those who cling to their “exceptionalism”, their secular autism, their incapability to learn.

Furthermore, the objective factor of the victory counts. The Taliban are surfing on the most important wave of the country. All the Afghan people are claiming: “no more war”, with exceptions, they want peace and all movements and statements seem to accompany this sentiment as a national imperative.

And the international environment is propitious. Asia lives in a state of cautious optimism, like Afghanistan. The ousting of the United States disables them to execute new and immediate invasions, although they always have a card down their sleeve, as the empire of chaos. While the stun of the defeat will continue to privilege hiding the responsibilities and invent hoaxes to distract attention.

Many surprises will come with this new Afghanistan.

Consejo Editorial