29 September, 2021

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Giving Taliban Benefit Of Doubt

By Ameer Ali

Dr. Ameer Ali

After twenty years in political wilderness, the Taliban has recaptured Kabul, established its hold over entire Afghanistan and routed the US from the country, perhaps forever. Once again Afghanistan has kept its historic reputation as a graveyard for imperialists. The speed of Taliban’s return with relatively less bloodshed and the total collapse of US-trained Afghan forces indicate that it was a pre-negotiated affair. Tribal solidarity rather than Afghan nationalism won at the end. The pandemonium at the Hamid Karzai International Airport relayed by TV reporters showing thousands of people scrambling to get out of the country is expected. Horrid memories of Taliban rule before 2001 are still haunting thoughts and minds of Afghan minorities and women in particular. One can expect more pictures and reporting of this type as part of the loser’s propaganda war. However, what about the future of Afghanistan under Taliban rule after twenty years? Conquering is one thing, but governing is entirely another. Taliban is a Pushtun dominated group and Pushtun are only 42% of Afghan population. During its first regime they controlled around three quarters of the country and that may be the case even now. Will there be peace once the Americans leave at the end of this month as Biden promised? The longer Americans stay thousands will rush to the airport chancing their luck to get out of the country. Not all of them are going to be evacuated. Taliban has warned already that beyond 31st it will take matters into its own hands, and one could expect more bloodshed. 

Time is a great healer reformer, and experience is the best teacher. To take one example from closer to home, JVP’s bloody insurrectionary past under its founder Rohana Wijeweera is still remembered with shock, awe and fury at least by the generation that lived during 1970s and 1980s. However, that party’s current avatar and its new image under Anura Kumara Dissanayake is radically different from its predecessor. To paint AKD’s JVP also with the same brush as of Wijeweera is therefore irrational and malicious. Unfortunately, that is what happening in Sri Lanka today. The same sort of propaganda has started in the Western media about Taliban too. This is to ignore and dismiss outright any possibility of a transformation in the thinking Taliban’s new leaders. 

It is twenty years since Afghanistan was misruled by this group and since then several of its founder mullahs have disappeared, and those who were in their teens, twenties and thirties at that time must have attained maturity not in age alone but in thought and experience also.  The new generation of leaders must have learnt some hard lessons from the bloody past and also must have learnt from the horror experience of their counterparts elsewhere in the Muslim world, who also ventured to establish Islamic rule through jihadism and terror. Since the 1980s and until the present nowhere in the world where Islamic rule was proclaimed, including Zia’s Pakistan and Muslim Brotherhood’s Egypt, had there been prolonged peace let alone prosperity. In contrast to what was advocated from the pulpit and advertised through Jihadist propaganda, governance in the name of Islam and sharia has brought oppression to many and misery to the majority. Given this horror history has Taliban leadership changed for the better? There are some feint signals that it might have.

During talks Qatar for example, Taliban representatives claimed that they were moderates. During the latest round of fighting Taliban announced that they have no objection to allow Muslim women to continue with their education – whether they meant secular or religious was not clear – and would not prevent them from seeking employment. It was also heartening to see one Taliban leader being interviewed by a Muslim woman in front of the camera. Two prominent leaders are repeatedly talking of an “inclusive” regime. In short, there seems to be a desire to win popular support at home and as many friends as possible abroad. Yet, these are early days and there is still no formal government and a cabinet. However, as in every political party and faction, Taliban too will have its share of moderates and hardliners. What is not known is which faction would have the upper hand in the echelon. One cannot also rule out the possibility of an internal struggle between the two factions, which would provide opportunities for outsiders such as Iran, Pakistan, India, US, Russia and China to fight a proxy war by supporting either of them. There are also enough war lords in the country to sell their allegiance to any one for money and recognition. 

If the Taliban were to repeat its previous experiment with the Islamic Emirate, Afghanistan would once again become a cauldron of blood and mayhem, and a pariah state internationally. For the moment it would be wise for world powers to grant Taliban the benefit of doubt and reserve their judgement for now.   

N.B: When just about to post this piece to the editor, news reached that a terror group suspected to be an offshoot of ISIS had struck and killed several including US personnel. As pointed out earlier, an internal struggle within Taliban is possible between extremists and moderates. Is this incident a sign of that?    

*Dr. Ameer Ali, School of Business & Governance, Murdoch University, Western Australia

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Latest comments

  • 9
    7

    I have read your articles with interest as offering fresh perspectives. But your present piece has much speculation, besides known history. One looking for what might be expected would not learn anything new.

    Wishful thinking often disappoints. During the Norway-brokered peace process a great deal of money was poured in to present the LTTE as actual or potential moderates. Those who disagreed were charged as war mongers. Being a Muslim from Kattankudy you would have known better. One expects that such experience would have cautioned you. Unfortunately, few Tamil intellectuals learnt anything from our costly experience.

    • 6
      2

      Rajan Hoole,
      What significance did you note to lump in LTTE, in this context.
      You speak of other Tamil intellectuals condescendingly. That LTTE blundered is a fact. Are you free of any guilt in that?

      • 4
        0

        Nathan,
        .
        I feel that Rajan’s comment must have been meant for some other article.

    • 4
      0

      Rajan Hoole,
      Did you know why Norway-brokered peace process poured great deal of money to LTTE? What was the purpose of Norway-brokered peace process why it was failed?
      What is the relevance of Ameer Ali’s Kattankudy relevance? Are you saying Saharan is also from Kaatankudy?

    • 2
      3

      RH
      Despite differences on your assessment of the respective roles of the many players of the 30 year theatre of tragedy, I note that you have made a valid point concerning labelling of dissenters and the plight of Tamil intellectuals.
      You need not go far for affirmation: CT pages speak volumes.

  • 8
    1

    It is still too early to tell what direction the Taliban will take. Will the experienced and relatively moderate elders guide policy, or will the teenage hot-headed overthrow them?
    Still, we should not take at face value all this negative publicity coming out of propaganda mills. Sharia law is not any worse than what is recommended in some parts of the Bible. Those who have lived in Sharia ruled states ( I have) can tell you that it has its plus points. Can we deny that we shoot drug dealers and murderers illegally while they do it legally?
    Even Wahhabi extremist regimes are capable of evolution and compromise. Just give them time. Check out this video from Saudi Arabia:

    https://youtu.be/Gy5JaXmtnpY

    • 4
      4

      OC
      Economic reality stares hard in the face of Afghanistan.
      The bulk of its foreign reserves (besides what the former president stole) are mostly in foreign banks, mainly US. And the US will use it as bait or more probably means to wreck the economy.
      The US is not going to make things any easy for Taliban, if late Cold War Vietnam offers any lessons.
      *
      But I suspect that geopolitical reality points to Afghanistan pulling through, with or without screams of “loan trap”.

      • 2
        0

        SJ,
        An Indian take on the situation:
        https://youtu.be/VMfcdbdN9YM

        • 2
          1

          OC
          Thanks.
          It is much unlike the usual Indian take on anything.
          He offers valuable insights.

          • 0
            0

            S.J,
            No, this Gupta doesn’t suffer from the usual jingoism.

    • 2
      1

      Thanks, oc.
      .
      The ARAMCO guy appears to be a human being after all!
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe

      • 3
        0

        S.M,
        I was an ARAMCO guy myself, a loong time ago.

  • 7
    0

    How quickly bomb kill 60?

    • 3
      5

      As quickly as to kill 70,000 in one town in Japan in on 6 August 1945

      • 8
        2

        SJ,
        Why do you need to go for 1945? Why not go for May 2009 in your own country?

        • 0
          4

          You asked a question and I answered adequately.
          If you have something specific in mind, come clean with it in your question.
          BTW, May 2009 is not quite a parallel to the issue in your question.

          • 2
            0

            SJ,
            You are very smart opportunistic and biased like our politicians.
            Similarly 1945 Japan is not parallel to 2021 Taliban.

            • 1
              2

              Where is the bias?
              What is opportunistic in the comment?
              I am listening.
              My comment was on just the point raised by you: How quickly bomb(ing) kill(s).
              *
              Before you point fingers at others and call names, check where you stand.

  • 8
    2

    “The speed of Taliban’s return with relatively less bloodshed and the total collapse of US-trained Afghan forces indicate that it was a pre-negotiated affair.”
    *
    Including the airport chaos I guess.
    Is also the disgraceful let down of the European civilians in Afghanistan with the “I am all right Jack” attitude of Biden part of the deal?*
    *
    Curse Trump as much as he deserves, but he would probably have been less clumsy than Biden in working out details.

  • 1
    0

    Ameer Ali

    I’m against the Al Qaeeda, and so I must also be against Jo Biden who has let down all the Afghans.

    This therefore is what I must brainwash myself into believing. I would obviously be an idiot to imagine that to be a credible way forward, bt that had better be where I take off from, and start understanding what’s been shocking us all for the past two months, as the Afghan government fell like the most “topplable dominoes.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTgq1jwloCQ

    Once more observations come in from fellow Lankans (and Kumar David has promised us more stuff of Afghanistan tomorrow (Sunday) night:

    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/will-the-taliban-victory-affect-sri-lanka/

    .
    This is so complicated that one has to start somewhere, before pretending to be wiser than all others.
    .
    old codger, and nimal, and Native Vedda, what do you say?

    • 3
      0

      SM,
      The story runs all the way back to Alexander the Great, but more relevant is the British Empire. You had better read up from there.This is a long but good German documentary:
      https://youtu.be/L7e6tejlTNw

    • 4
      0

      Sinhala_Man

      The issue is much more complicated than ever before.
      British, Russians, Americans and many others tried and failed, its a history of failed foreign occupations.

      The problem with foreign invasion is that the initial objective (whatever that is) of invasion is subsequently lost and eventually war momentum/logic takes over the entire enterprise. Time and again USA has to feed American Military Industrial Complex, hence USA needs good war.

      Taliban has men, machines, and money, may be geographically and ideologically limited objective. The nihilist ISIS/Al-Qaeda on the other hand practices Political Nihilism (similar to practices by Velupillai Prabaharan) intend to complete world Caliphate. ISIS/Al-Qaeda could recruit gullible Islamists in Sri Lanka.

      I hope Sri Lankan Intelligence Agencies, Armed Forces, Police, … do not act as recruiting sergeant for ISIS/Al-Qaeda.

      Taliban’s objectives may include completely controlling Afghanistan (including norther parts, Kashmir, Pakistan, ..

      • 2
        0

        Native,
        Isn’t it strange that when we had Afghans, they were known as fearsome money-lenders, though devout Muslims?

        • 1
          0

          old codger

          “Isn’t it strange that when we had Afghans, they were known as fearsome money-lenders, though devout Muslims?”

          South Indian Chetties were also branded as leeches.
          Recently I came to know that a century ago a Chinese man in Singapore was helped by an established Chetty money lender who or his firm lent initial capital to start his business whereas the established British banks refused as he was a recent immigrant from China, later he prospered and established himself the richest man in Singapore.

          Resource-less Singapore somehow found a way to incorporate all types of diverse people, human capital, skills, expertise, ….. . My Elders tell me it is based on Endogenous growth theory (Sorry I find myself doing another Dayan).

          SJ’s darlings in the 1940s and 50s found these people as scavengers, leeches, exploiters, ……………… Soon SJ will find himself surrounded by Chinese, men, women and prisoners … working in banks, state departments, estates, factories, harbours, farms, fishing, armed forces, …
          They will tell him to stuff his red book.

  • 2
    1

    old codger, nimal fernando, Sinhala_Man, and anyone who still retain their ability to think and behave normally and reasonably,

    Rohana R. Wasala
    The Super Patriot typed in Sri Lanka Guardian (August 28, 2021)
    as follows:

    Sri Lanka faced with three sinister forces

    Thus Sri Lanka finds itself pitted against a monstrous coalition of three sinister forces: global supranationalist hegemony, separatist Tamil racism and Indian expansionism.

    • 3
      2

      You view the world through a different prism. ………You guys are too intellectual/educated/academic/pedantic/bookish and up-yourselves.

      That’s how ye guys are trained …….. and will always end up as foot-servants to two-bit swindlers/crooks/murderers/serial-killers ……… classic examples: GL, Vasu, Tissa, Amunugama, SJ, ………. who else?

      The world is more simple than that ……… run by simple people …….. with simple/basic human yearnings

      Good ol’ Bin Laden …… stated his intensions clearly – which your “education”/”intellectualism” will compel ye good esteemed gentlemen to overlook and seek some other “deeper meaning.”

      Ol’ Bin said “We can draw America in to a war in Afghanistan and defeat them.”

      That’s what has happened …….. nothing more, nothing less. Why gild the lily?


      Pull ye heads out of ye own behinds, smell the roses and learn to take a fresh simple look at the world ……. around ye.

      I don’t read ….. but gonna read SJ’s book ……. wouldn’t miss it for the world ……….is there a version/printing in Pidgin English?

      • 2
        0

        There is an updated one in Tamil.

        • 2
          0

          Well, unfortunately ……. as they say, my Tamil is limited …….except some choice bad words picked up from Native. Wanna hear them? :))

      • 1
        0

        nimal fernando

        “Ol’ Bin said “We can draw America in to a war in Afghanistan and defeat them.”

        Of course America has withdrawn from Afghanistan, however do we know what was the extend of long term damage has it wreaked in Afghanistan. VP too believed he too had defeated Hindia (perhaps SJ was much happier). In both cases only the American/Hindian arms suppliers benefited from these stupid wars.

        By the way America still retains the ability to destroy many times over Afghanistan or any other country. In fact Bin Laden had helped American defense manufacturers develop, manufacture, and profit from these wars.

        “I don’t read ….. but gonna read SJ’s book ……. wouldn’t miss it for the world ……….is there a version/printing in Pidgin English?”

        I have given above the links to two parts book by SJ.
        Its available free of charge and you might as well use it as it is supposed to be Socialist venture.

        “The world is more simple than that ……… run by simple people …….. with simple/basic human yearnings”

        Of course you are right, however the world is run by a handful of Corporate men supported by Washington Consensus, Media, Analysts, Consultants, ……………. in our country stupid very greedy politicians (now handful of members of armed forces), and some call it Deep State (whatever that is).

        • 0
          0

          Native,

          Some interesting points.

          I’m busy with few things ………. shall write later …….

          America has changed in ways that even it wouldn’t have foreseen …… the world has changed ……. remember Fukuyama’s “The End of History and the Last Man?” ……. How trying to give a definitive interpretation can go spectacularly wrong……..

          • 1
            0

            nimal fernando

            “How trying to give a definitive interpretation can go spectacularly wrong……..”

            “The End of History and the Last Man?” …….
            The mid 1990s saw the end of Fukuyama’s thesis which
            saved SJ’s idea of “the dictatorship of the proletariat.”, or dictatorship for the sake of dictatorship, and reminded liberals the need to remain vigilant and not to be complacent when they hear new catch phrases pronounced by leading fashionable “intellectuals”.

            Also Dayan needs such intellectuals to Ape.

            Though I haven’t read the book I have perused enough reviews, much later.

  • 1
    0

    NV, SM, OC, SJ,

    Politico.com has an article by Kevin Baker: “The Old Cliché About Afghanistan That Won’t Die.” You might find it interesting and largely true.

    • 0
      0

      Thanks.

  • 1
    0

    ” One expects that such experience would have cautioned you. Unfortunately, few Tamil intellectuals learnt anything from our costly experience.
    In his hypocrisy drama float open a new category as Tamil’s intellectuals , Rajan Hoole became a nursery kid in his intellectuality and forgot what and what he was comparing. Comedy Tamai! Al Qaeda, once aging, dug the pit for Taliban. They bombed the Twin tower after the Taliban got American help to chase the USSR. We cannot predict which way America would be going to care for the new Al Qaeda fireworks. But it is a political comedy, a novice statement saying that America the “fox has learned the lesson so won’t return back to the Golden Shower tree”. These are CT PhDs’ lisbing and babblings. Taliban is equated with Vietnamese, who really are a serious crowd. Now the Taliban denies that Osama bin Laden organized the tower bombing, which Osama bin Laden proudlyreleased Videos proves claimed for him and. Why couldn’t the Taliban send an envoy to President Bush to explain this point? Muslim writers are once again start to put China on their heads and dance Koothu. But they want to stop their statement that “Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires” only with Britain, Russia & USA.

  • 0
    0

    They are hesitant to extend their Jayewardenepura University DSc to China. So, they are celebrating the Afghan as the play yard to China, not graveyard. China is the graveyard of innocent Muslims, the Uyghurs. These comedians don’t write anything thinking that it is for others to read.
    LTTE was trying to negotiate with America to gain back their lost country. Negotiation was not successful. America was negotiating with the Taliban to hand over the shared responsibility of Afghanistan. The Taliban didn’t lend. So the UoJ master historian is twisting the history. Our Tamil and Muslim Modayas are still in the years of looking at eclipse and explaining it to laymen that it as a snake swallowing the moon or sun. Their eye lacks the capacity to see the things as happening out in the open space as it and explain what it is. Leader Pirapaharan negotiated with the same countries the Taliban negotiated. That time was used to rearm the Appe Aanduwa. America & West are leaving Afghanistan, saving hundreds of thousands of Afghans, airlifting. But when Tamils tried fleeing themselves as refugees on the Naval Royal wrecks, the playboy minister operated, Australia bombed them.

  • 0
    0

    LTTE, after installing a shadow government, did not Bomb Kathan Kuddy Mosque. But that is how Rajan Hoole has written his history. The Muslim Sinhala governments came to power promising many things to Tamils. Those never happened. Rajan and Sumanthiran PC, so confident of getting the equal state within the unity Muslim-Sinhala Government. But Muslims ministers are always hijacking the UMP and SLFP government getting their things done. In 2018, Muslim ministers’ union palatalized Yahapalanaya government fearing of their crimes getting investigated, and now they caused installation of the Lankawe’s Sinhala Taliban government. Now Dr. Ameer is trying to buy out time for the Taliban as a solution for many of Lankawe Muslims leaders and writers hidden objects.

    Our Demulu Modaya dragged the Kathan Kuddy incident into this as it was something that just fell out of the blue sky, so it was LTTE’s fault not controlling incidents caused it. What king of Historian write History as it was an apple fell from the tree when he was daydreaming under it. Isn’t it that the Dutugemenu story of Mahavamsa is 10 times better than this PhD Christian evangelical Father’s Kathan Kuddy Mosque story? Then he argues that he has an extraordinary sense to explain that; then his moronic mind goes ahead and compares Taliban to LTTE.

  • 1
    0

    LTTE’s shadow government was the only secular government ever to appear in South Asia’s modern times, treated women equal to men and even offered many political and military positions to women.
    The Taliban is taking over a government. Ameer Ali wants the IMF to release the needed loan to Taliban, not to impose economic sanctions. So, he is washing JVP as White angels under the leadership of new Mr. Clean Anura. His theory is that SLFP and UNP seems to harden for the tricks of Muslim Minister so why not try JVP as a new Channel? There is not any heaven’s gracefulness he has found in the modern JVP or Taliban. Everything this is only high-grade propaganda.

  • 1
    0

    Our Demulu Modaya, without understanding the purpose of comparing JVP with Taliban, he is concluding Taliban won’t change. Come on somebody, please teach this PhD pundit how the all-clown Solomon West Ridgeway Dias’ Panchamaga Palavegaya government has turned into the Lankawe modern Taliban and has earned the world one of the worst rapist armies. . The cause of this barbaric writing is not with his brain that it functions so faulty. But It is with the university to which he too attached – The UoJ. It is a shame for these CT PhDs concocting the history of each one in their own way, in the name they are saving Tamils. There is nothing to surprise these standardization candidates’ perspective lanes are hair thin-narrow.

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