The Taliban have an ‘Emirate,’ if they can keep it – The Jerusalem Post

In 1787 the American statesman Benjamin Franklin was leaving the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia when he was asked “what do we have, a republic or a monarchy?” He replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.” Having won in Afghanistan, the Taliban now have an Emirate, in their own terminology, but they will have to try to keep it.  
In some ways, it is a fitting comparison to look at the US leaving Afghanistan in 2021 and the way the British left their former American colonies after the battle of Yorktown in 1781. The US was not really defeated by the Taliban, but many think that this decision to leave marks a turning point in US post-Cold War hegemony on the world stage. That remains to be seen.
The larger question is what the Taliban victory means for them and for like-minded groups. The Taliban emerged out of the chaos of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan. They were, as their name suggests, younger men then. The mujahideen, Afghan fighters infused with religion, had pushed the Soviets out, but the Taliban took many years to come to power.

When they did come to power it was a dark era. They blew up the Bamiyan Buddhas and hosted extremist groups like Al Qaeda. That put them in the crosshairs of the US; by late 2001 they had been toppled after only a few years in power. In fact, they never even controlled the whole country.
The horrors the Taliban inflicted on Afghanistan foreshadowed the sectarian genocidal policies of Al Qaeda and its fellow travelers in Iraq after 2003 and then the ISIS genocide against Yazidis and Shi’ites. It was the Taliban who had persecuted Shi’ites in Afghanistan and, like ISIS, they destroyed the historical fabric of Afghanistan. This attempt to erase archaeological and religious history and minorities had a Nazi-like quality to it.
Today’s Taliban is said to be different. That means its “emirate” is one that might flourish if they can get recognition and investment. Unlike the 1990s Taliban, this one has links to China, Russia, Pakistan, Qatar and Turkey. In fact, it appears that some of their special forces had training from some backers. Some of them know how to fly helicopters. They have inherited a small arsenal from the Afghan army and from abandoned US-led Coalition equipment. They have drones, a Blackhawk helicopter and armored vehicles.
 Taliban waving a flag drive through the streets of Kabul, Afghanistan August 16, 2021 in this still image taken from social media video. (credit: SNAPCHAT/ @ mr_khaludi /VIA REUTERS)Taliban waving a flag drive through the streets of Kabul, Afghanistan August 16, 2021 in this still image taken from social media video. (credit: SNAPCHAT/ @ mr_khaludi /VIA REUTERS)
TODAY’S TALIBAN appear to want to blend the kind of Muslim Brotherhood-inspired policies of combining religious extremism with modern statecraft that one can find in Qatar, Turkey, Libya, Gaza and other places. This isn’t the kind of cell-based terror groups of the 1980s and 1990s, nor the kind of extremists that the Taliban of the 1990s were, nor the genocidal apocalyptic nihilist terrorists of the early 2000s. In short, the Taliban don’t even want to use terror as a method, they claim. They claim to be against ISIS and other terror groups.
This is how they were midwifed into power by Qatar and others. They met with the US, spoke to former President Donald Trump, and met with the CIA head under Biden. They are being groomed for responsible Emirate-level power: That appears to be the consensus. “We can work with them” is the narrative. The goal is not just to work with Taliban “moderates,” the way the West works with “moderates” in Tehran, but rather a belief that the Taliban are responsible and will secure Afghanistan.
The US has hopes for the Taliban to be able to manage their Emirate responsibly. “The statement is positive. We, our allies, and the international community will hold them to these commitments,” US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad tweeted on August 28. This week he noted that “the Taliban now face a test. Can they lead their country to a safe and prosperous future where all their citizens, men and women, have the chance to reach their potential? Can Afghanistan present the beauty and power of its diverse cultures, histories and traditions to the world?”
“US military flights have ended and our troops have departed Afghanistan,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday. “A new chapter of America’s engagement with Afghanistan has begun. It’s one in which we will lead with our diplomacy. We will hold the Taliban to their commitment on freedom of movement for foreign nationals, visa holders and at-risk Afghans. The international chorus on this is strong – and it will stay strong.”
THE BIG question for the Taliban is how they handle the next few months. Many Western countries have moved their diplomats to Qatar, which now appears to be the power broker in Kabul. Turkey wants to come in and run Kabul airport. The Taliban will want to get the airport running soon. Also, the Islamic group won’t want any more US airstrikes, like the drone strike that apparently killed an Afghan family over the weekend.
Meanwhile, the Taliban will want to bring in China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia and Turkey for investment opportunities. They will want to neutralize any opposition, such as in the Panjshir Valley. They will also want to get the abandoned equipment left behind working so they can secure the country.
These are big tasks. But they may have support from Qatar and others that will come out in the open now. They will have to decide how much they want to let these foreign countries have a say in running things in Kabul. They have an Emirate, if they can keep it. It remains to be seen if they will want to host Hamas and other groups, like HTS from Idlib, and provide guidance on other terror armies that want to transform into states.

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The Taliban have an ‘Emirate,’ if they can keep it – The Jerusalem Post

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