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HomeGeopolitical CompassWest & Centeral AsiaWill the Taliban regime survive?

Will the Taliban regime survive?

Author: Vanda Felbab-Brown

Affiliation: The Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology (Brookings)

Organization/Publisher: The Brookings Institution

Date/Place: August 31, 2021/ Washington, DC, USA

Type of Literature: Article

Word Count: 1532


Keywords: Taliban, Afghanistan, United States, Governance, Economy, Terrorism. 


Vanda Felbab-Brown questions the Taliban’s capability to maintain itself in power after its control over the regime. Felbab-Brown outlines major elements that could determine the success of the Taliban to intensify its power and management of the state. First, she indicates that armed opposition to the group could be the most considerable threat due to the divergent visions of its factions about how to rule, and the difficulty to guarantee enough income to its key commanders and soldiers to prevent break-ups. Moreover, potential Taliban defections would empower its main rival the Islamic State Khorasan (ISK) that could later on be a major challenge to  the Taliban. Since the Taliban underlines its ‘performance-based legitimacy ’rather than ‘ideology-based legitimacy’, the ISK’s brutal attacks on civilians would undermine its legitimacy. Besides, this violence would negatively affect economic investments, especially the Chinese investments. The ISK’s aim to initiate a Sunni-Shia war in Afghanistan would spoil the Taliban’s improved relations with Iran if it fails to prevent it. Second, Felbab-Brown suggests that although the Taliban has managed to maintain order and impose rules, it lacks experience and technocratic capacity to handle other complicated issues and provide other services such as macroeconomic policies, and providing electricity. Therefore, she claims that technocrats and foreign assistance are extremely required to deal with the current situation. Third, the economic situation and trade relations are very critical to the Taliban’s survival and management of the state. The Taliban regime is confronted with many economic troubles including its loss of billions of dollars provided by the IMF, the World Bank, the US, and the EU. Most of the Afghani people face unemployment and are in poverty, so the Taliban needs to not only provide its own soldiers with their incomes but also find a substitute for fighters whose salaries had been paid by the US. Additionally, the Taliban should sustain its trade relations with Iran, China, and Central Asia which depend on its adoption of their ‘counterterrorism interests’. Finally, Felbab-Brown declares that in spite of these above-mentioned challenges to the Taliban regime, the West could not easily overthrow the Taliban by depending on sanctions and isolation. Rather, the West’s engagement with the Taliban should insist on specific demands along with specific punishments and inducements to maintain concrete policy actions. 


By: Yomna Süleyman, CIGA Research Assistant



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