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Afghanistan at a Crossroad

The victorious Talibans need to move forward quickly. However, they have some daunting challenges ahead to overcome.

The immediate and the biggest being placing a workable governance structure in place. This task is fraught with difficulties as Talibans never have been a single unitary force.

They have always been a loose alliance of tribal heads and warlords. Although, they have been united in rescuing their country from the foreign control but not necessarily united in the distribution of power.

There are already internal factional jostling for power. This is further compounded by the last ditch resistance from elements opposed to Taliban takeover, for example, the sympathizers of the deposed government.
Secondly, although the general public may welcome the unceremonious exit of foreign presence from their country, but remains uncertain about the Taliban intentions moving forward as the past experience of Taliban approach does nothing to inspire confidence.

Now the Taliban leadership needs to move quickly to restore trust and confidence amongst the populace, and this indeed will be a difficult task in the ensuing weeks and months.
Thirdly, the country’s financial and economic structure is at a standstill.

The economy is practically bankrupt and the financial coffers are empty. Without an unprecedented injection of cash which the country at the present does not have, it would be difficult to get the wheels of the economy turning again.

The dilemma facing the new leadership would be who to turn to for help and what conditions any external help may bring with it?

It is abundantly apparent that the World and European institutions would impose stringent conditions before any resources are released. This raises another important question: Whether the Taliban led government would be at all amenable to any conditions which may not be on its terms?
Fourthly, the new government will also be required to address and overcome serious gaps in the skilled workforce. Many may already have fled the country or are fearful of returning to their roles.

Also, twenty years of foreign occupation, which in the words of president Biden was not about nation building, has left the nation ill equipped and under trained for the demands of a modern economy.
Fifthly, it is unclear as to what Afghanistan’s relations may look like with its neighbors’, particularly, countries sharing their borders.

Despite positive overtures from some of the neighboring countries, the precise nature and the extent of this relationship are not clear and one detects a degree of hesitation on all sides. This is understandable given the uncertainty surrounding Talibans intentions and direction.
It is a matter of fact that new Afghanistan would not be able to move forward at any pace without striking a reciprocal working relationship with its neighbors’.

In this regard, the role of Pakistan, Iran, and China would be a critical factor. Also, whether the Taliban leadership would have capacity to reach out to other Muslim nations in order to galvanize and mobilize support.

Beyond this, would the Taliban leadership want to have any meaningful interaction with the Western powers given the past and present history of mistrust on both sides?
Pakistan and Iran, the role of Turkey would be extremely important given its strategic position in Europe and the Muslim world.

Turkey could be a powerful Ally, but it needs to feel comfortable with Talibans.
Some clear strategic thinking is needed by the present leadership in order to pull their nation out of the abyss, in which they have been left by the foreign invaders.

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