From Rebel Governance to Institutionalization? Prospects for the Taliban and Afghanistan
Working Paper 116 / July 2023
Intra-Taliban fragmentation, based on tribal, factional, ideological and structural fault lines, represents a major challenge to the transition from a polycentric and anti-centralist structure to a unified movement; the fragile balance between the political center in Kabul and the powerbrokers in the periphery, namely Kandahar, represents a key challenge. Women’s rights and girls’ education remain sensitive topics for the Taliban to the extent that the more pragmatic figures push for lifting the ban, the less Hibatullah will grant concessions in order to assert his authority vis-à-vis his critics. Taliban’s ban on secondary education for girls is unique in the world, thus clearly implying internal power dynamics rather than religious motivations. An intellectual struggle over the IEA’s constitutional design has started among main factional groups and Chief Justice Haqim Haqqani’s book “The Islamic Emirate and Its System” (2022) constitutes the first political manifesto about what an Islamic Emirate is and how to run one. The movement has adopted a pragmatic attitude towards the outside world based on the principles of neutrality, non-interference, sovereignty and respect for the international order, but factionalism might cause an inconsistent foreign policy. In the short-term, brutal counterterrorism measures might prove effective in decapitating Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP)’s leadership but, in the long term, indiscriminate violence could alienate Salafi communities and the young urban generation on university campuses. The Taliban and al-Qaeda (AQ) are bound by bay’ah (religious oath of loyalty) but tensions and mistrust have emerged since the Doha Agreement.
Taliban, factionalism, governance, institutionalization, ISKP, al-Qaeda