With the evacuation of foreign personnel and their local collaborators over, by Taliban imposition, it now remains to be seen what will happen in Afghanistan, now without international troops and with the Taliban back to power. The most immediate thing is to understand that, as in so many other cases of human tragedies prolonged over the years, the one that affects its almost 40 million inhabitants will soon be submerged in media and political oblivion.
After all, the welfare and security of Afghans have never been important to major international players, and the country hardly counts on the international geopolitical chess board.
What to expect from the Taliban
Considering what can be expected internally, it is necessary to insist that, beyond the current theatrical exercise of false moderation, the Taliban will try to manage the country according to their enlightened vision of Islam more rigorous than can be imagined and, therefore, they will punish very harshly to anyone who does not accept his dictation. If now they try to appear chimerical restraint it is only because they need time to consolidate their power and more hands than those of their co-religionists to sustain their efforts.
But there can be no doubt about their intention to recreate the Islamic emirate that they proclaimed in 1996, denying basic freedoms and rights that, unfortunately, cannot be thought to have been guaranteed by the government that has now collapsed. They will have accomplices interested in betting on what they now consider to be a winning horse; from a Hamid Karzai – former president – who was already a close associate of his in the nineties, to warlords and organizations such as the Haqani network, supported by Washington since the times when they served to complicate the lives of the Soviets who invaded the country in 1979.
Of course, they will also feature resistances and declared enemies. In the first place, a good part of the population that had begun to perceive the possibility of living differently. A population, in any case, with little chance of going beyond passive resistance to the dictatorship that is upon them in a country that is sectarianly fragmented by ethnic and religious clues.
Different is the case of the jihadist groups active on the ground, with Wilayat Khorasan (a local affiliate of ISIS) in the lead, without forgetting other groups linked to Al Qaeda. Although some of them have previously collaborated with the Taliban in their opposition to foreign troops and the Afghan government, they currently maintain an extremely radical position that leads them to perceive Abdul Ghani Baradar’s hosts as excessively moderate and very little interested in jihadism. transnational.
They are joined by the diverse anti-Taliban alliance that is already being formed in the Panshir Valley, around former First Vice President Amrullah Sahel and the son of the legendary commander Ahmad Shah Masud. However, given the limitation of their forces and the lack of clear external support, it does not seem possible that they will be in a position to forcibly subdue the Taliban.
All this augurs, in short, more internal violence, the deepening of the economic crisis, the systematic violation of the most basic rights and the persistence of a humanitarian crisis that the Taliban will not be able to remedy either.
And the main international players?
A better image of what to expect in the future is not extracted from the performance of the main international actors. Beyond the repeated and inane declarations of concern, consternation and condemnation by the UN, NATO or the European Union for what is going to happen, no decisive action (even less military) can be expected to change the trends that now point to a general decline.
The departure of the United States – to better concentrate its efforts in the face of the challenges posed by China and Russia – does not mean that neither Beijing nor Moscow are willing to take over. It will be enough for both of them to engage the Taliban in an attempt to prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a sanctuary for groups hostile to their interests, which means that, if necessary, we will see the Taliban receiving foreign support to confront them.
For their part, it is to be expected that, albeit initially in a trickle, the main beneficiaries of the Taliban victory – Pakistan, above all – will take the step of formally recognizing the new regime.
In parallel, it is as foreseeable that the flow of people trying to escape the country will intensify as the resistance of those who, although they are jointly responsible for creating the problem, will do everything possible to prevent the desperate from reaching their own territory.
Pakistan and Iran, along with Turkey, will predictably be the preferred destinations for the thousands of people who will be forced to leave everything behind in order to continue living. A human drama that is too frequent today, but already assumed as a habitual and normalized component of a world in which the values, principles and the most basic norms of international law will once again be cornered in the face of geopolitical interests that allow themselves to play, without having to take any responsibility, with the lives of so many human beings. And so on, until the general forgetfulness allows one and the other to freely develop their agendas.