Speed Reads

Graveyard of Empires

Taliban finds it isn't so easy to set up its non-'democratic' Afghan government based on Sharia law

"Over the course of more than two decades, the Taliban proved that they knew how to wage an insurgency" in Afghanistan, The New York Times reports Thursday. "Over the last five days, ominous signs have emerged that they have yet to learn how to run a country." The Taliban marked Afghanistan's Independence Day on Thursday, a celebration of the country's liberation from British rule in 1919, by cheering their successful "jihadi resistance" against "another arrogant power of the world, the United States."

But protests against Taliban rule that broke out Wednesday in Jalalabad and Khost province, violently suppressed by Taliban forces, spread to Kabul on Thursday, including near the presidential palace. Some opposition figures are converging in the last holdout, the Panjshir Valley, with an eye to reviving the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance for armed resistance.

"With many ATMs out of cash and worries about rising food prices in this nation of 38 million people reliant on imports, the Taliban face all the challenges of the civilian government they dethroned without the level of international aid it enjoyed," The Associated Press reports. The Taliban has so far been unable to access Afghanistan's $9 billion in foreign reserves, most of it effectively frozen by the U.S., and International Monetary Fund aid and development money are off-limits at least until Afghanistan has a new government. The Taliban does have revenue from mining, customs taxes, and narcotics smuggling, The Wall Street Journal reports

Waheedullah Hashimi, a high-ranking Taliban commander, tells Reuters that Afghanistan will probably be governed by a ruling council that answers to Haibatullah Akhundzada, the Taliban's supreme leader. Taliban leadership will meet to discuss the new government later this week, he added, but "there will be no democratic system at all because it does not have any base in our country," and the new political system "is clear: It is Sharia law and that is it." That system would be similar to the one the Taliban employed when it last ruled Afghanistan, from 1996 to 2001.

A different Taliban leader told Afghan reporters Tuesday that women will have more rights this time around, including access to jobs and education, but Hashimi told Reuters that "our [scholars] will decide whether girls are allowed to go to school or not" and "whether they should wear hijab, burqa, or only [a] veil plus abaya or something, or not. That is up to them."