Last week, 20 years after the Taliban were deprived of power during a US-led military invasion, the Taliban took control of Afghanistan.

Analysts and Afghan officials say that winning the war may prove to be the easy part, because maintaining peace and governing this conflict-torn and impoverished country will be a difficult problem to crack.

Al Jazeera examined the six major challenges the armed group faces as it prepares to rule the country of 38 million people for the second time since 2001.


The government of President Ashraf Ghani has failed to meet the wishes of the people because basic services such as health and education are poor, and their living standards have hardly improved.

The government is mired in corruption, and the security situation remains precarious, forcing thousands of Afghans to leave the country. Many notorious militia leaders and their followers have been reformed despite their bad human rights records and rampant corruption.

People are frustrated and ready to change, but this does not mean they welcome the return of the Taliban.

Jonathan Schroden, director of research projects at the US Naval Analysis Center, said: “In many parts of Afghanistan, people are faced with Sophie’s choice to choose a repressive Taliban regime or a government that squeezes far more than it provides.” Virginia.

“Although some Afghans certainly have strong preferences and support one side over the other, many people are caught in the middle of being not particularly enthusiastic about either side,” said Schroeder, who is responsible for the threat and challenge plan.

Stretching force

In a few weeks, the armed group occupied most of the capital cities, including the capital Kabul, in a lightning-fast military raid that was almost unopposed. The memory of ISIL fighters fleeing the battlefield during the plunder.

As part of the agreement signed by the Taliban with the United States on February 29, 2020 in Doha, the capital of Qatar, the Taliban launched a military offensive in May as the U.S.-led foreign troops began to withdraw from Afghanistan.

The Afghan security forces either surrendered (under the mediation of the local tribal elders) or retreated, giving Taliban fighters opportunities in some provinces in the north and west.

Advisers to the previous government headed by President Ghani who fled the country since then said that the previous government’s decision to withdraw government forces from remote areas backfired because it allowed the Taliban to build momentum and create fear among the remaining forces.

Analysts say that almost all Afghanistan is now under their control, with fewer than 100,000 active combatants, and the Taliban will be stretched.

“The Taliban found it easy to seize a lot of areas, but defending major cities is another matter-it requires a lot of manpower,” Schroden said.

A former Afghan minister told Al Jazeera that the Shugnan district of Badakhshan province was occupied by only “six Taliban fighters”-an estimated 60,000 people live here. There are other examples where a few fighters can claim important territory. The Taliban also confirmed this.

The Taliban announced an amnesty for government officials because it wants to retain as many current positions as possible.

Unless the number of law enforcement personnel is increased, the country is prone to turbulence and lawlessness.

At the same time, Ahmed Masood, son of former Vice President Amrullah Saleh and Tajik Mujahideen commander Ahmed Shah Masood, has called for a challenge to the Taliban.


The Taliban are good at one thing-fighting. How will they govern this diverse country with almost negligible modern infrastructure?

“The Taliban have not yet demonstrated their ability to govern effectively. They did not do this when they ruled Afghanistan, and they have not demonstrated this ability in the areas of the country they currently control,” CNA’s Schroden said.

People hold national flags during a protest on Afghanistan’s Independence Day in Kabul [File: Reuters]
A Taliban fighter walks through a beauty salon where there are photos of women defaced by spray paint at the Shahe Lake in Kabul [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

The Taliban are sometimes considered to be good at maintaining security-albeit through very harsh means-and providing effective traditional forms of justice, but they have almost no technical expert understanding of how to perform other government functions.

Since the government does not have much revenue to use for public services, the group may find it difficult to provide effective governance for the people of the country-this is the nature of its problems today.

“There is a problem of retaining enough manpower, bureaucracy and civil servants to manage government affairs. Omar Samad, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, said that with the exodus, one weakness may be the number of professionals and technocratic officials. Insufficient to operate national institutions.

The power to control it

The war against foreign occupation unified the Taliban’s military ranks. Now, when these fighters become governors and mayors and gain income and power-will they follow the path taken by the previous government and eventually be accused of corruption and abuse of power?

Members of Taliban forces sitting at a checkpoint in Kabul [File: Reuters]

“This will be an interesting development to watch. After the Soviet Union withdrew, the jihadists struggled with this because they no longer have a unified slogan to defeat the atheist communists and attack each other,” Schroden said. He was referring to the war against Soviet occupation in the 1980s.

“The Taliban are aware of this risk and have been improving the vertical and horizontal ties within their organization for the past seven years or more to strengthen their cohesion. To what extent these efforts will prevent Taliban fighters from fighting against foreign invaders? The decision to stop fighting after the slogan disappears remains to be seen,” he said.


The Taliban suffered from abuses of ethnic minorities and restrictions on women’s rights during their last administration from 1996 to 2001, and the country was isolated internationally.

Since returning to power on August 15, the Taliban’s talking points have included respect for women’s role in the public sphere, human rights and the rights of minorities. But the whole world, and more importantly, the Afghans, are waiting to see if these words will turn into actions.

The United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001, because it was linked to Al-Qaeda. Al-Qaida was accused of being the culprit of the 9/11 attacks. The Taliban will be closely watched to ensure that it keeps its promises and does not provide shelter for armed groups, such as- Al-Qaida and ISIL.

“The history of Afghanistan over the past 50 years is full of the rise and fall of regimes and governments. Few people have a second chance, and if they have a second chance—just like the jihadists—they are also short-lived,” the former Afghan government diplomat The officer and consultant Samad told Al Jazeera.

“They face huge challenges in ensuring acceptable levels of human rights and gender rights policies, media and civil society laws, racial rights, and minority rights. In addition, they are clearly cutting off ties with radical and terrorist organizations. Time will tell whether they have been absorbed. Learned these lessons.”

Economic and foreign aid dependence

Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world, and more than 20% of its total income comes from foreign aid.

After the Taliban took over, the United States froze the assets of the central bank of Afghanistan for 9.5 billion U.S. dollars, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) suspended the use of its funds.

Many other Western donors may follow suit, making it extremely difficult for the new government to run the economy in a country where 75% of public spending comes from grants.

Afghans wait in line for their turn to collect money from the ATM in front of the Kabul roadside bank [AFP]

As instability hinders major exploration and international investment, a large amount of mineral wealth is still underground.

Although the Taliban have been discussing possible economic cooperation projects with Russia and China, it remains to be seen how they will be implemented.

It also needs humanitarian agencies to provide emergency assistance to Afghans displaced by the war. It is estimated that more than 5 million Afghans are internally displaced. The United Nations stated that due to continued violence, nearly 400,000 people have been displaced this year alone.

However, as aid agencies, including the United Nations, withdraw their staff from the country, people who rely on foreign aid will face difficulties.

In order to obtain international funding, the international community’s recognition of the Taliban government will be the key, because the organization is still blacklisted by the United Nations.

Taliban patrols in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan [Haroon Sabawoon/Anadolu]

The Taliban dismissed the idea of ​​relying on foreign aid, saying that their fighters depended on bread and water to survive the war. The question remains: Can it convince millions of Afghan civilians to live without the foreign help they have relied on for years?

This is also an opportunity for foreign donors and aid agencies to persuade the Taliban to accept their terms in exchange for aid.

But Jonah Blank, a lecturer at the National University of Singapore, said: “Money is not as strong as some outsiders imagine.”

“if only [Taliban] With enough funds to perform its basic “duties” (as it sees), then I don’t think it really cares about whether there is an additional 1 billion or 200 million dollars going into the Treasury here or there,” Bran Ke told Al Jazeera’s “Calculate Cost” show.


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