Major Military, Political, Economic and Social Challenges for Taliban

Published January 4th, 2022 - 09:57 GMT
Despite their success in capturing Afghanistan, the Taliban have not been successful in controlling the country's security and managing various political, economic, security and social crises.
Taliban media spokes person (AFP)

By Farzad Ramezani Bonesh

From the first half of August, the Taliban intensified their advance and eventually entered Kabul. However, over the past months, the challenges for the Taliban has become more complex.

Recognizing the Taliban 

Today it is more difficult to recognize a state in the international system. The Taliban is eager to deepen the diversity of its foreign relations. But there is widespread skepticism about the group's policies. There are various obstacles (Even by several countries) to recognizing the Taliban Most countries insist on forming an inclusive government. Many other countries are concerned about Afghanistan becoming a 'terrorist hub'.

As the United States says, if the Taliban wants international recognition, it must stop its harsh human rights policies and retaliatory actions and fight terrorism. Other major players such as China, Russia, the European Union, Iran and India also have different conditions, especially in the matter of ​​inclusive government.

The Taliban have said that it will not allow any group in Afghanistan to attack a neighboring country or clash near the border . But various countries, including Afghanistan's neighbors and non-neighbors, do not have enough trust in the words of Taliban officials and the level of obedience of all middle and lower-ranking officials.

In addition, remnants of the former government abroad and the National Resistance Front (NRF) in Afghanistan have called on the international community not to recognize the Taliban government. They have extensive foreign political relations and will not allow the Islamic Emirate to be easily recognized. Meanwhile, growing support from some EU countries and prominent US Republican figures for Ahmad Massoud could be a major challenge in identifying the Taliban.

Terrorist groups and ISIS in Afghanistan

The spread of the threat of poverty (by the middle of 2022, it covers 98% of the population), the lack of a strong government, etc. have put Afghanistan at the risk of ISIS-K growth.  Rising unemployment will lead some to join ISIS-K. ISIS-K can offer between $ 300 and $ 1,000 to its new members.

Foreign fighters are under control of the Taliban. But there seems to be a growing risk of joining of disgruntled members, Punjabi and Uzbek members and commanders of Taliban to ISIS-K. Some, such as Deborah Lyon, believe that the Taliban  cannot stop the spread of ISIS-K influence.

In fact, the threat against the Islamic Emirate will become more serious as the weather warms. Disgruntled members of the Taliban may also join ISIS and other groups for ideological and economic reasons.  The Taliban are also concerned that ISIL may infiltrate their security and military structures (such as their previous presence in the Ministry of Defense).

In addition, Afghanistan has been home to many other groups for decades, including the Islamic Party of Turkestan, al-Qaeda, and others. Taliban leaders are at odds over choosing the right and rational option for the type of action and relationship with these groups. They fear that these groups have more ties to ISIS or are an excuse for foreign powers to pressure the Taliban.

Military-political opposition of the Taliban

Supporters of Amrullah Saleh and Ahmad Massoud, National Resistance Front, survivors of the army and the security forces and the former Afghan Ministry of Defense and Interior Affairs; have significant military-political potential to counter the Taliban, especially in central, northern and western Afghanistan. 

From a military point of view, it is difficult to completely overcome difficult areas such as Andarab and Panjshir. In fact, the formation of a government in exile or the structure of the "transitional government" of the National Resistance Front could increase the space for the Taliban's security challenge.

If the opposition retakes parts of Badakhshan, Takhar and Parwan in the mountains, it could establish more foreign relations with Tajikistan, India, etc., and increase the Taliban's security challenges. Opposition leaders and Ahmad Massoud are actively negotiating with international forces to gain their support in forming an anti-Taliban coalition.

Also, if the Taliban fails to prove its ability to provide services and security, popular discontent will spread. In many areas, people are armed and the risk of national uprising is high.

Although, the Taliban has stated that it intends to form a regular army and operate the Afghan Air Force, but if more pressure is put on the Taliban by the United States and major actors, or if actors like India are willing to help the Taliban widely, they could escalate security challenges against the group.

In fact, there is a danger of reshaping the Northern Alliance in the 1990s or creating a "peacekeeping force." In a more coordinated voice, they can even be present in Kabul and defeat the Taliban.

In fact, the Taliban's insistence on maintaining its power )and not forming an inclusive government( can even facilitate the formation of a government in exile with the participation of figures such as Hamid Karzai, Abdullah Abdullah, Amrullah Saleh, Ahmad Massoud, and other anti-Taliban figures.  This could be a major challenge and a fundamental blow to the Taliban.

Internal conflicts within the Taliban

There are different factions with very different views in the Taliban. Extremist factions within the Taliban strongly resist any change. Also, the distance between the way of looking of two pragmatic and moderate factions to various crises may increase. In addition, the expectations of non-Pashtun Taliban leaders from the Pashtun Taliban have not been met. Therefore, thousands of non-Pashtun Taliban forces may change their approach for a variety of reasons and create challeng by leaving the Taliban.

In recent months, disputes between the Taliban over power have been heard and reported by various sources. In fact, the Haqqani-Kandahari, Eastern-Southern or Ghilji-Durrani and non-Pashtun-Pashtun military-security rivalries between Taliban leaders remain widespread. Divergence and differences over domestic issues, the share of ethnic groups, the opposition, the formation of an inclusive government, reforms, the future, political change, the constitution, the structure of government, the fencing of the Durand Line, etc. are also increasing. Therefore, the differences between the leaders and the lack of unity and political unity of the Taliban will be one of their major challenges.

Economic challenges and human crises

There is a risk of a humanitarian catastrophe, widespread food shortages and a possible economic collapse in Afghanistan. International aid was more than 40% of GDP by 2020. 

But in addition to rising sanctions, sharp declines in classes and groups, declining GDP, a liquidity crisis and the US $ 9 billion freeze on US central bank reserves have added to the challenges that the Taliban are faced with. Afghanistan tops the list of countries facing a humanitarian crisis and one of the worst human catastrophes in the world. Millions of Afghan children are malnourished.

Billions of dollars of Afghan people's property have been taken out of the country. Food insecurity, COVID-19 and drought have made rural areas more vulnerable. The evacuation of thousands of skilled and educated Afghans has also negatively affected the performance of Afghanistan's economic sectors.

Two subjects of security and economy are intertwined, and insecurity is a problem for mining, agriculture and the market, and will cause capital flight. The Taliban may boost poppy production. But criminal activities, money laundering and terrorist financing are also provoking more negative reactions against the group.

A new wave of migration has begun from Afghanistan. However, the Taliban leader has called on the authorities to solve the problems of those who intend to emigrate from the country. But the presence of large numbers of illegal immigrants in Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and Central Asian countries has increased in recent months. The new wave of migration is due to the incompetence of the Taliban and it increases the scope of foreign and domestic opposition to them.

It seems that plans such as injecting more liquidity into the Afghan economy and free up some of the resources for the Afghan people for health and food aid, is on the table.

The Taliban have also made promises to solve Afghanistan's banking problems and increase Afghanistan's exports to $ 1.5 billion. But it looks like things will get worse in 2022. The Taliban also rely heavily on financial resources to establish a government and a regular armed force. If the Taliban fails to manage the economy, security challenges will increase.

Absolute authoritarianism of the Taliban

The Taliban continue to rely on ethnic and ideological groups. Almost all of their cabinets are Pashtun. Contrary to the Taliban's claims, there have been increasing reports of human rights abuses, torture and killings, forced migration, and so on in Afghanistan. The Taliban have completely blocked the fields of work, education and political participation for women and are alien to the country's social developments and the growth of literacy and urbanization and the presence of women in society.

The interim government is still in power, and the Taliban have also failed to come up with the kind of constitution they want. The dissolution of the Independent Electoral Commission and some institutions and ministries and projects such as the Council of Elders and the General Council, have not been able to take a step forward in the management of the country.


Despite their success in capturing Afghanistan, the Taliban have not been successful in controlling the country's security and managing various political, economic, security and social crises. Their ability and experience, with a slight improvement, is the same as in the 1990s. So their refusing to retreat and insisting on their positions can make the growing challenge an Achilles heel for them. 


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