Faizel Patel – 01/09/2021
Canadian journalist Tanya Goudsouzian says the speed at which the Taliban had taken over Afghanistan has taken many people by surprise.
Goudsouzian covering Afghanistan for 20 years and Fahad Nabeel, a military expert on Afghanistan were speaking to Radio Islam about the withdrawal of the US from Afghanistan and the way forward for the country.
The Taliban have hailed the US withdrawal as a victory for Afghans and a lesson for other invaders.
Goudsouzian says even the entourage and advisors of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his family who fled to the UAE were taken by surprise by the Taliban’s swift takeover of the country.
She says there is a lot yet to learn about what transpired in the days and hours leading up to Ghani fleeing the country.
“He wasn’t the type to be motivated by money. This isn’t a guy who’s going to take bags of cash and save his own skin and leave the country in ruins. There’s something here we don’t really know yet, obviously he was badly advised. It appears now that he may have been told that armed men had infiltrated the presidential palace and that they were going room to room looking for him.”
Goudsouzian says the Taliban have definitely upped their game from twenty years ago.
“This has been going on for sometime now. The Taliban quote on quote charm offensive, their PR campaign, they’ve definitely upped their game. They did change tact compared to the 1990’s, they definitely started using media more to their advantage and in the last two years we did see them kind of join the global conversation.”
However, Goudsouzian says there must be an element of caution when it comes to the Taliban.
“I think we need to be careful and hold them to account on what they say versus what they do because we haven’t really seen convincing arguments that they are walking the talk.”
Nabeel says the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) is emerging as a threat to the credibility of the Taliban.
“Islamic State Khorasan Province has become the major and immediate threat to Afghanistan, Afghan Taliban government because it is seriously questioning the capability of Afghan Taliban to protect and ensure the safety of Afghan citizens. Ever since the Doha agreement, Islamic State Khorasan Province have been propagating that the Afghan Taliban and the United States are partners. So they have been pursuing and trying to establish this delegitimization of the Afghan Taliban.”
Nabeel says Ahmad Shah Massoud’s 32-year-old son Ahmed and several top officials from the ousted Western-backed government are not a potential threat to the Taliban
“They do have a limited capacity and they won’t be going beyond that because they do not have any external support which they enjoyed back in the 90’s or following the 9/11 American invasion in Afghanistan.”
Goudsouzian says while the Taliban are very keen on achieving legitimacy and recognition on an international landscape including having diplomatic relations with their neighbours and other countries, the organization needs to make sure that they meet the very basic requirements, including human rights and civic liberties to allow the world to recognize them.
Goudsouzian and Nabeel concur that the Taliban do not enjoy overwhelming popular support in Afghanistan and the movement will face a number of challenges including a difficult economic climate.
Listen to the discussion by Tanya Goudsouzian and Fahad Nabeel