The Taliban took Kabul on Sunday. With their seizure of power in Afghanistan, there are growing concerns about a possible return to the hard rule they exercised in 1996-2001. The American newspaper “New York Times” analyzed the scenarios of the rule of rebel groups that may now be repeated in Afghanistan.
According to the New York Times, it is impossible to say with certainty what will happen in Afghanistan after the Taliban formalizes its rule. “New governments, especially those set up by rebels, may behave in a manner that is tricky and unpredictable,” the NYT wrote. The newspaper noted that the Taliban were not the first rebel group to seize power, and although “no two cases are exactly alike, certain patterns of behavior have recurred in modern history.”
The New York Times outlined three scenarios that existed in the past and that the newspaper says could happen again in Afghanistan. “All three schemes have a common goal: consolidation of power, which is almost always the greatest difficulty for rebel rule. Insurgents could take over ministries and defeat government forces, but this is not the same as governing or gaining public support” – assessed the New York daily.
Scenario 1: Purges in Afghanistan
“The new rebel government, focusing on fears of being rejected as unlawful, undermining by those who remain loyal to the old order or challenged by other participants in the rebellion, is carrying out large-scale purges,” according to the New York Times, they can follow the Taliban’s operations according to the first pattern.
As an example, a New York newspaper cited the events that took place in China after Mao Zedong’s seizure of power in 1949 by communist militants. When the rebels captured Beijing and proclaimed the People’s Republic of China, “one of their first initiatives was to imprison or exile those accused of supporting the old nationalist government.” “Mao’s purges, however, went far beyond targeting entire social classes that the communists saw as potential sources of opposition,” the NYT wrote. The newspaper added that one of such classes were landowners, who were considered sympathizers of the Chinese right, who were imprisoned in labor camps or lynched with the help of poor villagers.
Decades later, Cambodia experienced the most extreme example of social purges. After the Khmer Rouge took power in 1975, entire cities were displaced to the countryside. The new government then decided to murder millions of people belonging to social or economic groups who were considered loyal to the previous government, including businessmen, journalists, civil servants, lawyers and students, but also representatives of certain racial or religious minorities, the NYT wrote.
The New York Times also drew attention to what happened to Vietnam after the war. “In 1975 … the Vietnamese communists imprisoned or murdered hundreds of thousands of civilians who were accused of supporting the American-backed South Vietnamese government,” the newspaper reads. According to a New York daily newspaper, many people in Afghanistan fear that such a fate could threaten the hundreds of thousands of people who collaborated with the Afghan government.
Scenario 2: Mass Emigration and Social Change
According to the New York Times, Vietnam is also an example of another pattern that could repeat itself in Afghanistan. As the offensive of the communist forces progressed, civilians left their homes, fearing reprisals. They first relocated to large cities such as Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City), and then many of them migrated outside the country. It is estimated that about a million people tried to escape from the country by sea, of which between 200,000 and 400,000 did not survive the journey – wrote “NYT”, citing data from the United Nations.
A similar situation occurred in the late 1950s, when the authorities in Cuba were taken over by the rebels of Fidel Castro. About 250,000 people fled the country then. “Dubbed the ‘golden migration’ because many of the refugees belonged to the Cuban middle and upper classes, it has permanently changed the social and political system in both Cuba and Florida, where many migrants have settled,” the NYT wrote.
According to the journal, similar migrations “are disproportionately represented by the educated middle class (…) and representatives of minorities”. This results – according to the New York newspaper – “brain drain”, ie depriving a given state of intellectual base, which results in “paralyzing the country’s ability to reconstruct itself for generations”.
“The process has already started in Afghanistan. According to the UN, 400,000 Afghans have been forced to leave their homes this year. (…) Aid agencies and neighboring governments are preparing to exodus refugees, some of whom fear there may be millions “- noted the” New York Times “.
Scenario 3: Seeking the legitimacy of power
The third path that the Taliban in Afghanistan could take is to try to prove to the inhabitants of the country, but also to distrustful governments of other countries, that they should be treated as the rightful leaders of the country, the New York Times assessed. “Usually this requires recognition by social or religious leaders or the party that lost the war and could legitimize the new order. Most of the attention, however, especially at the beginning, is on international issues,” the newspaper noted.
“After years of armed conflict, the Chinese Maoists turned almost immediately to a more delicate struggle for international recognition. Even after the Soviet-led bloc recognized them [władzę -red.] right away, the new leaders in Beijing spent decades, often designing their domestic and foreign policies around it to gain global recognition, “the NYT wrote. The newspaper stressed that the Maoists had received UN recognition 22 years after taking power, but in many capitals such decisions were made much later.
As the daily emphasized, it was a priority for the Taliban to gain international approval for decades. During their first rule between 1996 and 2001, they managed to gain recognition from only three countries: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. “In recent peace talks, perhaps aware of the dangers of a lack of international recognition, Taliban negotiators have placed particular emphasis on gaining international acceptance and ‘positive relations’ with foreign governments, especially Washington,” noted the New York Times.
Main photo source: PAP / EPA / STRINGER