And with the United States gone, the Taliban will also have to survive by swimming alone with some real-life sharks – Pakistan, India, China, Russia, and Iran. Maybe they want to keep the White House phone number on the speed dial.
“The post-2001 Taliban have proven to be a learning, more political organization that is more open to the influence of external factors,” said Thomas Ruttig in a paper for the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, the Washington Post noted.
We will see. The first signs – all kinds of abuse by the Taliban – are not promising. But we have to watch how and if they fully establish control. The Taliban’s main problem with America is that we were in their country. Let’s see what happens when we’re gone.
And let’s also remember: When the US invaded Afghanistan in 2001, there weren’t even iPhones, Facebook and Twitter. Flash forward to today: Afghanistan is not only much more connected to the world, but also internally. It will not be nearly as easy for the Taliban to hide their abuses from the world or from other Afghans.
In 2001, virtually no one in Afghanistan owned a cell phone. Today more than 70 percent of Afghans do so, and many of them have internet-enabled smartphones. Owning a phone is not inherently liberalized, but according to a 2017 study by Internews, Afghanistan’s social media “is already promoting change as it has become a platform for denouncing corruption and injustice and pinpointing causes to make that are not yet known ”. addressed in traditional media and apparently enables every user of social media to express their public opinion. ”
Maybe the Taliban will just shut everything down. And maybe they won’t.
At the same time, a July 7 report in Time magazine on Afghanistan stated: “When US-backed troops ousted the Taliban in 2001, there were almost no girls in school in the country. Today millions and tens of thousands of women attend university and study everything from medicine to miniature painting. ”
Perhaps the next morning the Taliban will simply order everyone in burqas again and close their classrooms. But they may also encounter rejection from wives and daughters they have never seen before – precisely because of the social, educational, and technological seeds of change that the United States has sown over the past 20 years. I do not know.