Why Finland and the West are concerned about the return of the Taliban – five questions and answers about the terrorist movement that has invaded Afghanistan

What does Finland care about the internal problems of Afghanistan? How much money has the Finnish state spent on helping Afghans? And what is the threat to Europe when the Taliban comes to power? The answers to these and other questions related to the current situation in Afghanistan can be found in this material.

This summer, in connection with the withdrawal of Western coalition troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban movement reappeared in the headlines. In one week, it captured almost the entire territory of the country, and last weekend it took control of Kabul. We have collected basic questions and answers about this movement and why the Western world, including Finland, is so concerned about it.

1. What are the Taliban and what are they trying to achieve?

The Taliban is an extremist Islamist organization operating in Afghanistan. It was born in 1944 among the representatives of the Pashto people and still consists mainly of them. The word “Taliban” means students or listeners of a Muslim educational institution of madrasah. The Taliban are Sunnis who adhere to a strict interpretation of Sharia law.

The Taliban are striving to completely seize power in Afghanistan. In this regard, Western countries and ordinary Afghans are worried about massive violations of human rights. Over the past year, the Taliban have killed many journalists, judges, civil society activists and women in the government. According to the ideology of the movement, women should wear a cloak that completely conceals their entire body, men are required to wear a beard, girls over 10 years old should not go to school, homosexuals should be sentenced to death, and arts, sports and entertainment should be banned.

In 2003, the Taliban was recognized as a terrorist organization by the UN Security Council and the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation. In the Russian media, the Taliban are referred to as “an organization banned in Russia.” At the same time, since 2018, the Russian authorities have held negotiations with the Taliban at least three times, the last time Taliban representatives came to Moscow in July this year.

2. How does the current Taliban differ from the Taliban of the nineties?

The birth and rise of the Taliban falls in the mid-nineties, when Afghanistan was engulfed in civil war. From 1996 to 2001, the country was completely under the control of the Taliban and was called the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Only Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have recognized the Taliban administration from foreign countries.

Taliban rule ended when the US entered Afghanistan in 2001 and overthrew the Taliban. The movement, however, was not destroyed – its key figures either fled to Pakistan or hid in remote corners of Afghanistan. For 20 years, they have been planning a new seizure of power, and now, when the Americans and their allies decided to withdraw their troops from the country, the Taliban had such an opportunity. The weak and corrupt army of official Afghanistan could not contain the onslaught of the Taliban.

The Taliban have changed since they last ruled in Afghanistan. Some interpretations of Islamic laws have become softer. The Taliban say they have softened their stance on women’s rights, television and social media. This is due both to the arrival of a new generation in the movement and to the fact that the Taliban are actively using modern means of communication for communication and propaganda.

This summer the Taliban tried to whitewash their reputation. The movement was presented as a reliable and responsible authority that takes care of the supply of electricity and garbage collection in cities. The Taliban have pledged their activities do not threaten neighboring countries and have pledged to pardon Afghan soldiers if they swear allegiance to the Taliban. Taliban will not come to power. He also promised that journalists would be allowed to criticize anyone, and women would be allowed to study, work, and even leave their homes unaccompanied if they were appropriately dressed.

At the same time, the words of the Taliban are noticeably at odds with their deeds. According to the UN and human rights organizations, the Taliban are responsible for the mass executions and killings, in the territories they have occupied, the Taliban restricts girls and women from studying, working and simply moving around. For insubordination of women, the death penalty may await.

3. How are the Taliban connected to ISIS and Al-Qaeda?

The Taliban became famous in the world after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Although the movement was not directly responsible for the attack on New York and the Pentagon, the Taliban supported and defended the al-Qaeda terrorist organization that carried out the attacks in the United States.

Al-Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden , had the opportunity to freely stay and carry out their activities in the Afghan territories controlled by the Taliban. And this was one of the main reasons why the Americans decided to invade Afghanistan.

The Taliban are now insisting that they will not allow a nest of terrorism to form in the country. According to the UN, however, the Taliban’s relationship with al-Qaeda continues to remain fairly close. In the West, they fear that ISIS may also try to gain a foothold in Afghanistan captured by the Taliban. sharia. The main difference is that ISIS is trying to gain influence on the world stage through terrorist attacks and recruiting in Western countries, while the Taliban remains a local Afghan movement, terrorizing mainly its own population.

4. How does the Taliban work?

The poverty of the Afghan population plays into the hands of the Taliban. The movement attracts new supporters by paying a small salary. The Taliban receive money in particular from the drug trade. So an Afghan who cultivates his land during the day can become a Taliban warrior in the evening without even sharing their ideology.

The Taliban is a heterogeneous organization. For many members, being Taliban is not a matter of identity, but a matter of survival, because the Taliban rule through violence. Members of the movement are characterized by a long beard and turban, as well as white Cheetahs high-top sneakers made in Pakistan with green and yellow inserts.

There is evidence that the Taliban are responsible for the massacres of Uzbeks and Hazaras. Hazaras live in the Central Afghan mountains and displease the Taliban that they belong to the Shiite branch of Islam. Many Afghans who have been granted asylum in Finland are Hazaras.

5. What does Finland and the West care about the internal problems of Afghanistan?

Although the Taliban’s activities are limited to Afghanistan, the consequences of the Taliban coming to power can be felt by many countries – not only neighboring countries, but also countries of the Western world.

Firstly, there are many citizens of Western countries in Afghanistan who work in embassies and public organizations. They need to be taken out of the country. In addition, the West and Finland, among other things, promised to evacuate and provide shelter to those Afghans who helped in the fight against the Taliban. refugees. According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, there are already 3.5 million people in Afghanistan who have fled their homes.

Third, due to the rapid advance of the Taliban, weapons that the US forces left behind to the Afghan army could fall into the hands of the Taliban. In twenty years, the United States has spent more than $ 70 billion on weapons for Afghans. The Taliban, which needs money to recruit new members, may well sell these weapons to other terrorist organizations, which, in turn, could use them against Americans and other Westerners.

Fourth, the West may revise the principles of financial support for developing countries. For twenty years Finland has spent about 850 million euros on the operation in Afghanistan and support of the Afghan society. Afghanistan was the largest recipient of aid from the Finnish state. The Afghan events may spur the popularity of the opinion that third world countries must deal with their problems on their own, and governments will be less willing to allocate money to help those states that are not viable without external support.