A year after the Taliban’s victory over its democratically elected predecessor, the Islamic emirate is grappling with internal and external challenges that could further undermine its already fragile foundations. The Islamic emirate of the Taliban is still not recognized by any foreign state. It’s opposite resistance in various parts of the country, is plagued by internal fragmentation and has failed to form an inclusive government contrary to its commitments in the Doha agreement. The Taliban have poor women their livelihoods and restricts girls’ education below secondary level. More … than 90% of Afghans don’t have enough to eat. To make matters worse, the assassination of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in the heart of Kabul by a US drone demonstrates that Afghanistan may once again have become a safe haven for terrorist organizations.
How does the Taliban run Afghanistan and where is the country heading?
An analysis of the management of state institutions shows that the Taliban formed an ultra-exclusive government led by Taliban fighters, clerics and sympathizers at the national and local levels. Many of these people lack the knowledge and expertise to manage a complex administrative system. The repercussions of the brain drain, with former administration employees leaving the country, are palpable, and the problem is compounded by the Taliban’s inability to pay what remains of civil servants.
An ultra-exclusive government
After the fall of Kabul, the Taliban announced a government made up of hardliners close to the former leader and founder of the group, Mullah Mohammed Omar. The cabinet was entirely dominated by men, virtually all Pashtuns (30 Pashtuns, two Tajiks and one Uzbek). Obviously, the appointments were not based on merit, skills or knowledge, nor obtained through a democratic process. The appointees had various roles in the Taliban movement and/or a long history of involvement in fighting jihad against the former government and international troops in Afghanistan. Other decisive qualifications seem to be religious training, ideological alignment and a Pashtun origin.
The Taliban had no reservations about assigning a number of notorious figures on designated terrorist lists to key ministerial posts. More than half of the cabinet (17 out of 30) is on a US or UN terrorist watch list. Taliban Interior Minister Sirajudin Haqqani, for example, is a US State Department Designated Terrorist and, on the FBI Wanted List with a $10 million bounty for information leading to his arrest. His name hit the headlines in early August when an American drone killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri at his guesthouse in the heart of Kabul. In addition to Sirajuddin Haqqani, his uncle Khalil Haqqani, minister for refugee affairs, has a bonus of $3 million on him. Similarly, Amir Khan Motaqi, the Taliban’s foreign minister, is on the UN sanctions list.
What the Taliban lacks in technical expertise and knowledge, they make up for in religious titles and zeal, and the presumed religious legitimacy thereof. That the Taliban are a violent Islamist group with a strict and extreme interpretation of Islam is well known and widely studied. Religion has always been the very essence of the Taliban’s identity. Therefore, seeing the Taliban government filled with clerics and religious scholars (mullahs) is no surprise.
In fact, religious titles (often indicative of religious training and rank) are commonly used by the Taliban. These indicate not only authority but also aim to demonstrate legitimacy on the principle of religion. As such, nearly all Taliban members in key administrative positions have religious titles, such as amir al muminin (commander of the faithful), Khalifa, Alim, Sheikh, Mufti, Mawlawi, Akhund and Mullah. Some names are enriched with several religious designations of this type: for example Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund.
The Taliban aim to reshape state institutions in their image, and to do so, they are replacing the current civil service with Taliban fighters and sympathizers. The new regime dissolved a number of state institutions, mainly those that protect democracy and human rights. For example, the Taliban dissolved the Independent Electoral Commission and the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission as well as ministries such as the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the Ministry of Peace. The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission was also dissolved. The Taliban explained that there was no “need” for such institutions. The Taliban brought back the Ministry of Promotion of virtue and prevention of vice (aka the Moral Police) and, in a symbolic act, placed it in the old building that housed the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. For many women subjected to the harsh Taliban laws enforced by the moral police, this added insult to injury.
The tight grip on state institutions at the national level spills over to the local level through a carefully crafted plan to gradually replace all civil servants with decision-making roles. Taliban administrators in provincial offices and ministries told officials they were not needed. The implication of Taliban replacement policies has been particularly detrimental to women. The overwhelming majority of women have lost their jobs, and the few who have been allowed to work in jobs that men are not allowed to do have had to accept a major pay cut.
The Taliban replacement approach aims to rid state institutions of people who are not ideologically aligned with the Taliban. In an interview with Afghanistan International, a member of the Taliban said: “What use is the expertise and knowledge of the people who leave, if they lack faith?
However, Taliban political leaders, especially those at the heart of the administration, are too savvy to openly discuss such policies. In public, the Taliban have frequently declared that the skilled workforce – doctors, engineers, judges, lawyers and teachers – should not leave the country and can return to their jobs. However, in practice these jobs do not exist, the jobs have been filled by Taliban fighters or the Taliban’s strict policies make working conditions suffocating and virtually unmanageable.
The replacement of civil servants was a double-edged sword. Skilled and skilled labor is being hunted, but Taliban loyalist fighters lack the basic knowledge and expertise to handle these jobs, and some are reluctant to even try. According to our information, some Taliban fighters who occupy various administrative positions”miss jihadand find their new office roles boring. According to a resident of Herat City, some Taliban officials can barely read and write. Without an educated workforce to administer the country competently, the Taliban’s Islamic emirate may not last long.
At the heart of Taliban policy is an attempt to implement sharia and a related desire to increase religious education. According to Noorullah Munir, the Taliban Minister of Education, Religious education is a priority for the Taliban emirate. The Taliban converted dozens of schools, universities and secular educational institutions into madrassas in a bid to stamp out the secular education that was thriving in Afghanistan. since 2001. In addition, the Taliban reshaped school curricula in accordance with their ideologies and beliefs and restricted or prohibited secular education.
These changes only add to an already large pool of radicalized young people who have attended a growing number of madrassas in the country. Indeed, since 2001, the country has experienced an unprecedented increase in the number of mosques and madrassas. According to the former Ministry of Haj and Religious Affairs, in 2014 only 3,500 mosques were officially registered in the country while around 120,000 new mosques were established without being registered. Since then, the numbers have increased rapidly.
Ultimately, the Taliban will cultivate a workforce with rigorous religious upbringing and close ideological alignment. As for the implications for the state institutions that have been built over the past 20 years since the fall of the first emirate, the damage is already enormous and likely irreversible if Afghanistan continues on this trajectory.