[Marxism] Why the Taliban are enjoying military success

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Oct 1 08:12:52 MDT 2015

In those places, not just in Kunduz, but across the north and east, the 
Taliban took a calculated and new approach to governance, one that 
involved some flexibility and local input. Some Taliban permitted girls’ 
education, even distributing class supplies — seemingly a big change 
from a group that became known for destroying schools.

A 27-year old Taliban judge interviewed in June, Obaidullah, who ran a 
court in Badakhshan Province, east of Kunduz, described a more lenient 
Taliban that no longer relied on corporal punishment for being 
clean-shaven or listening to music. “Our mentality has changed,” 
Obaidullah said in an interview in jail after his capture. “We realized 
that having a strict stance will not lead to success, so we changed.”

Perhaps more important, the Taliban took care to navigate the fractious 
ethnic politics of northern Afghanistan, which is largely Tajik and 
Uzbek, with concentrated settlements of Pashtuns.

The Taliban had traditionally drawn on Pashtuns for its members, but in 
the north in recent years it has played a canny game of recruiting 
disaffected ethnic leaders. At times that meant supporting a Tajik 
tribal elder in a dispute over development dollars against a more 
powerful Uzbek neighbor. Elsewhere, the Taliban gave commands to Uzbek 
militants from neighboring countries to operate in northern Afghanistan, 
which drew ethnic Uzbeks to their cause.

“I am Hazara myself,” one Taliban commander involved in the capture of 
Kunduz, Mohammadullah Sadat, said by telephone, identifying himself as a 
member of a group that has traditionally known terrible persecution at 
the hands of Pashtuns. “We are all fighting side by side under one 
banner, which is Islam. We are struggling for Islam not for any 
particular ethnic group.”

Even the Turkmens, one of Afghanistan’s smallest and most isolated 
ethnic groups, began joining the Taliban in substantial numbers this 
year in four provinces across the north. It was a decision made largely 
because they were dissatisfied with their marginal representation in 
government, said Allah Nazar Turkmen, a member of Parliament.

Indeed, the local expression for joining the Taliban —“he went to the 
mountains” — hints at an act of protest, removing oneself from the 
government’s world.


More information about the Marxism mailing list