Carter Malkasian

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Taliban supporters celebrating the first anniversary of the U.S. withdrawal in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 2022. Ali Khara / Reuters

One year ago, the democratic government of Afghanistan collapsed. The humiliating evacuation of U.S. military forces and civilians as well as roughly 100,000 Afghans remains a sore spot for Washington and its allies. The Taliban regime has ruled the country ever since. Levels of violence throughout the country have been dramatically reduced—but so, too, have the rights of women, the freedom of the media, and the safety of those who supported the overthrown democratic government. Questions about the new state of affairs abound. Should the international community recognize the Taliban? Will the Taliban moderate themselves? Can diplomacy or sanctions compel them to do so?…  Seguir leyendo »

Taliban fighters after taking control of Afghan presidential palace in Kabul on Aug. 15. (Zabi Karimi/AP)

For the past five years or more, in talks with diplomats and international organizations, the Taliban has sought to portray itself as a professional and moderate political movement, reformed from its harsh brutality of the 1990s. This week, in the immediate aftermath of overthrowing the Afghan government, its public effort continues: Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid convened a news conference in which he promised terrorism would not originate from Afghanistan, and a female anchor interviewed a Taliban media official on Tolo News, the country’s leading news organization.

Are we witnessing the emergence of a new, friendlier Taliban? Yes — to some extent: The new Taliban regime will probably be more moderate than the last, but hardly in line with U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pakistan members of the Jamiat Nazriati party pray for Afghanistan's Taliban chief Mohammad Omar at a gathering in Quetta on August 1. (Banaras Khan/AFP via Getty Images)

The world learned last week that Taliban leader Mohammad Omar is dead and may have been dead since April 2013. The announcement was bad news for peace talks and good news for the Islamic State.

Omar was a major figure in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In my years in Afghanistan as a civilian adviser to the U.S. military, I learned that this rarely seen and poorly educated man had won the respect of many Afghans. One well-known former member of the Taliban described Omar as a “true mullah, a true Pashtun and a true Afghan.” Even Abdul Raziq, Kandahar’s infamous police chief and no friend of the Taliban, once told me: “All Taliban obey Mullah Omar.…  Seguir leyendo »