Afghanistan Moving from Chaos to Feral State

Updated: Oct 23, 2021

The twin suicide bomb attack at the Kabul airport on August 25 a week prior to the final date for evacuation of US troops from Afghanistan is symptomatic of the chaotic conditions in the country deteriorating into feral state.

A distinction must first be made between the two words – chaos and feral. While Chaos is a state of total confusion with lack of order, a feral state is one in which order is increasingly collapsing and restoration remains distant.

The rapid fall of the country and take over by the Taliban on August 15 has led to the situation becoming chaotic.

The August 25 bomb attack was ascribed to Islamic State suicide bombers killing at least 60 people and injuring dozens. The Taliban condemned the attack but it is apparent that despite the warnings by the American agencies, nothing much was done and thus claims that they would be able to provide security made by the recent rulers in Kabul has proved facetious.

Groups such as the ISIS are likely to operate independent of the Taliban and will increasingly find targets which may have a commonality of interest.

For instance the Taliban were irked with thousands of people being flown out of the country and had made multiple calls to stay back assuring security.

But there was obviously no trust in the people at large.

Knocks on the doors of those who are see as collaborators are already going on in Kabul. There are no open source reports coming from other parts of the country thus the situation cannot be gauged fully.

Another common objective for the Taliban and the ISIS would be the Hazara Shia, and thus targeting the hapless ethnic group which lacks strong protection in the days ahead would be in the offing.

The Taliban leaders promised to restore order by forming an inclusive government.

A coordination council under President Hamid Karzai and head of High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah along with HIG leader and former ally of the Taliban Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was formed to hold talks with the Taliban leaders.

Karzai and Abdullah stayed back in Kabul after the Taliban captured the Afghan capital on August 15 even as the sitting President Ashraf Ghani and countless other leaders moved to Pakistan, Turkey and Dubai amongst other countries.

Khalil Haqqani and Anus Haqqani were some of the leaders of the Haqqani faction of the Taliban who have met with the national mainstream leaders and photographs of the meeting were shared across multiple channels.

They were to meet Deputy Leader of the Taliban Mullah Barader but that meeting has not happened so far.

Meanwhile reports indicate that the two are under house arrest by the Taliban and are not allowed to move and meet people. President Hamid Karzai is now living in Abdullah’s home given that there is integral security for the former head of the Reconciliation Council.

The exercise of reconciliation is now likely to be futile and the Taliban are working to set up a government that is wholly clerical an exclusively from their own leadership.

Gul Agha has been named as finance minister, Sadr Ibrahim acting interior minister and former Guantanamo detainee Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir the acting defence minister.

Mullah Barader is expected to be nominated as the President or equivalent while Mullah Hibatullah may retain the position of Supreme Authority.

The façade of an inclusive government seems to have come off. The Taliban has ordered the government staff to continue with their jobs and routine.

At the same time the nominated ministers have limited or no experience of modern governance and how the system will work remains to be seen?

Such an administration is expected to take time to start functioning normally if at all restoring security and law and order.

Meanwhile the banking system in the country has collapsed as the residents of eastern Nangarhar province note that all business and trade related activities linked to banking system which is not working.

Prices of food and non-food items had increased due to the closure of banks. “Most people have run out of cash and they don’t have money to purchase things for daily use.” Zalmay Azami, a member of the Nangarhar Chamber of Commerce as per the Pajhwok News.

Restoration of the banking network is unlikely to occur anytime soon, thus people may be hard put to obtain their daily needs and a barter system may be inevitable.

Meanwhile Panjshir Valley is holding out even though the first round of talks has reportedly been held in Parwan but the possibility of breakthrough remains distant. Panjshir leader and son of Ahmed Shah Massoud Ahmad Massoud in a recent interview with the BBC said “We are negotiating with the Taliban. So far, several countries--like Canada--has said it will not recognize an exclusive government. If that happens the people will continue to suffer,” Massoud said.

There are ideological differences between the two sides which are difficult to reconcile and a truce if at all will only be temporary.

The Panjshir rebellion could act as a magnet for other resistance forces to expand their influence and will pose a challenge for the Taliban to manage.

Meanwhile reports of differences in the Taliban have emerged with each group claiming greater say in the spoils of war including ministerial and governors positions. Will these disputes be resolved remains to be seen?

A radiation of these threats in combination denote Afghanistan under the Taliban (only notionally so far) is moving to becoming a feral state impacting the regional and geopolitical security in multiple ways.

1 view