Taliban Leadership

KABUL: The Afghan Taliban entered the Afghan capital Kabul on Sunday after the fastest advance in the past week and the withdrawal of Afghan forces from several districts.

Here are some key facts about the Taliban’s history and ideology:

In Pashto, Taliban means “students” who emerged in 1994 from the southern Afghan city of Kandahar. They were one of the Afghan militant groups fighting for control of the country after the Soviet withdrawal.

Afghan Taliban
Mullah Mohammad Omar (File Photo)

The majority of the Taliban were mujahideen who, with US help, forced Soviet forces to flee Afghanistan in the 1980s. The founder and leader of the Taliban was Mullah Mohammad Omar, who went into hiding after the fall of the Taliban government.

Within two years of its emergence in 1994, the Taliban gained complete control of most parts of the country, including Kabul. In 1996, he announced the establishment of the Khilafah with the interpretation of Islamic law, while other Mujahideen groups fighting for power moved to the north of the country and then remained confined there.

Following al Qaeda attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001, US forces, the Northern Alliance and other anti-Taliban fighters entered Kabul in November under the guise of heavy US airstrikes. While the Taliban hid in remote areas, they began a 20-year long war against the Afghan government and its Western allies.

The founder and leader of the Taliban was Mullah Mohammad Omar, who went into hiding after the fall of the Taliban government. Mullah Omar’s whereabouts were so secret that his son confirmed his death in 2013, two years after his death.

During their five years in power, the Taliban enforced strict Sharia law. They basically stopped women from working and they were not allowed to leave their homes in the absence of a male guardian.

“Public executions and flogging were common during the Taliban Era”
Public executions and floggings were commonplace during his time, while Western films and books were banned.

Opponents and Western nations accuse the Taliban of wanting to return to the old ways of governing their areas of control, but the Taliban deny the allegations.

However, the Taliban said earlier this year that they wanted a genuine Islamic system in Afghanistan that would give women and minorities their rights in accordance with cultural traditions and religious law.

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Global Endorsement
Only four countries, including Pakistan, recognized the Taliban government formed in the 1990s.

The United States and the United Nations have imposed sanctions on the Taliban
While the majority of other countries, together with the United Nations, declared the ruling group in the northern provinces of Kabul entitled to govern. The United States and the United Nations imposed sanctions on the Taliban, and most countries showed little interest in recognizing the Taliban government diplomatically.

Earlier this month, US Secretary of State Anthony Blanken said that if the Taliban took power and perpetrated atrocities there, Afghanistan was in danger of becoming a highly unpopular state on the world stage.

However, other countries, such as China, have cautiously indicated that they can recognize the Taliban as a legitimate government.