The Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan, soon after the withdrawal of the US and NATO forces, could bolster other Islamist terror groups like ISIS in Mozambique. This is according to Hameed Hakimi, an Afghan national and Research Associate at Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany. Hakimi says he has family in Kabul who have not been able to leave their home since the Taliban took over. Afghans with any ties to the US are being shot and women’s movements are completely restricted. Hakimi calls on Western powers to impose sanctions on the Taliban government before it’s too late. “I think the international community should really quickly respond to this challenge because the longer it takes, the more difficult it would be to handle,” he says. “The Taliban are far more dangerous than they were two decades ago because now they have access to high technology and new weapons from the US. It’s not only a problem for Afghanistan – now it’s a global threat.” – Linda van Tilburg
Hameed Hakimi on the current situation in Afghanistan:
The humanitarian situation was in its worst form even before the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan. There were thousands of people who fled from north Afghanistan, from the south, and all the parts were occupied by displaced families and individuals. So this crisis was already there and now that the US has left and the president, Ashraf Ghani, escaped from Afghanistan… No one can define… it is terrible. It’s a complete disaster now. And with the people who are trying to flee, they are mostly [people who] have worked with the government and they were like employed by international organisations. They had worked with the US forces, and their lives are in complete danger. I have contacts in Kabul because my family is in Kabul and I talk to them regularly, like every two hours, and a lot of my relatives say [the] Taliban have started door-to-door hunting and they are like catching, trying to search for people who have worked with the US and they have killed so many people. Just the day before yesterday, they killed four people – I think they were in the intelligence, like with the government, and they were killed by the Taliban. So it’s happening.
On how the Taliban’s assurances are not to be trusted:
That can never be trusted. I mean, on the first day, they said amnesty for everyone, we don’t care, no one should worry – we have forgiven everyone. But now, they are not allowing women to go outside. I know some girls, they were journalists and they were working with the Afghan National Television and they were not allowed to attend their jobs. So what the Taliban said can never be trusted because even the Taliban has different groups and they are influenced by different, you know, countries. They don’t have a unique or unified view of how they will be dealing with the people. So I don’t think they can be trusted.
On the Taliban’s harsh interpretation of Sharia law:
They have a completely different interpretation of Sharia law, like what they say – it’s completely against Sharia law. Sharia law has defined rights for women, for children, for girls, for men, for everyone. Like everyone has the right to educate themselves. They have the right to, like, do what they want. But the way they interpret Sharia law, it’s completely false. What they are doing, it’s not Sharia law. It’s something they have defined for themselves.
On what the Taliban is really doing:
They are making false promises that they don’t have to do anything with the people, but I think their main aim was to stabilise themselves, you know, get settled in the government and then, like, reorganise themselves. Then, once everything is calm, they can start their atrocities and oppressing people. People have the experience of living under Taliban’s government and they know how the Taliban are. For them, I believe it was just to get the situation calm and they stabilised themselves and then [they can] do what they are good at.
On whether things will be the same as they were 20 years ago:
I mean, the Taliban are the same Taliban, their ideology has not changed; their behaviour has not changed. They were fighting for the same belief for their ideology and their ideology is the same. I mean, if they were to change, why would they continue fighting? Our government has been trying to get them to the negotiation table for the past five or six years and every time they misuse the opportunities. When there is a ceasefire, first of all, they don’t agree to a ceasefire. When they do, it’s for their own benefit. They reorganise themselves. They remobilise their resources and replant everything and then go with full energy and power. So they have never believed in peace and they have never tried to make peace with the government.
On whether this would spur on groups affiliated to ISIS:
Yeah, it definitely has. The Taliban are far more dangerous than they were two decades ago because now they have access to high technology and new weapons from the US. I mean, when they were taking control of different provinces, they were taking all the weapons. There were depots of weapons and everything, so they have access to far more dangerous weapons and they want to have these helicopters and jets. So I can see it’s not only a problem for Afghanistan, but now it’s a global threat.
On the countries supporting the Taliban:
Their main source of income is from the drugs in the west of Afghanistan and they have strong relations with Pakistan, with Pakistan intelligence. They’ve always been supported by the Pakistan government. [There are] training centres and recruitment centres in Pakistan, like there are more than 10 centres. So the ISI from Pakistan, they train these Taliban, they recruit new people based on their ideology. And so without the support of Pakistan, I mean, also like Iran on the other side, like Russia, all these countries have been supporting Taliban for more than a decade now.
On people trying to get out of Afghanistan:
In the past year, people are hopeless and they see the situation is not improving anyway so yeah, those who could flee Afghanistan have already fled. In the past, we would have this border open with Pakistan, also like to Tajikistan or Uzbekistan, but now all the borders have been closed and Pakistan is not taking any more refugees. Also the same with Tajikistan, they say ‘we will accept 100,000 refugees’, but I don’t think that’s happening because now people are stranded in Kabul. All the surrounding provinces are controlled by Taliban and they cannot get out. You see the airport nowadays? The situation is chaotic and it’s a disaster. All the people, they only have the option to fly to other countries because they cannot go by road now.
On concerns for his family in Kabul:
The past week has been the most difficult time of my life, and I’ve been completely shocked and shattered. I cannot focus on anything in the past week since this happened.
Since the Taliban took over, my family cannot go out, so they are at home all the time and they are just really scared and they worry about our future. Like, what’s going to happen to them?
On how Western powers should respond:
From the west, what I expect is, they should not cooperate with the Taliban regime until they have agreed to form a coalition government and they give up on their policies and the kind of law that they are going to impose on people like Sharia law – at the moment, people don’t want that. So I think Western countries like the US or the European countries can sanction Taliban for a period and see how they react to those sanctions and if they are willing to, you know, negotiate with other ethnicities, other parties, and if they form a coalition government and if they agree to the international standards of human rights and women’s rights, also like child and girls’ rights, everything.
We can also benefit from the situation, you know, through these 20 years, we have been suffering from this war and if the Taliban joined the government, so if they can share the power, but with the international standards, it’s a good opportunity. But now I see the Taliban gaining more opportunities because China on the other side, they have stepped up and they are supporting the Taliban government. So that can be a really, really serious challenge for the people of Afghanistan. And also, if they keep going with China, then it’s a threat for the Western world as well.
We have many, many natural resources; we have different mines, and from what I understand, China is more interested in these mines to extract lithium and copper. So for them, it’s just an opportunity to grab. I think the international community should really quickly respond to this challenge because the longer it takes, the more difficult it would be to handle. So with the Taliban, the only thing I think they can do [is if] they increase their sanctions and if they can put pressure on China as a whole so they can be stopped. People on the ground, they see [that] now that the Taliban have taken the government, they don’t know what to do with this government, like they have lost their ways. The Taliban leaders, they have been fighting, fighting – they don’t have any other skills. So for them, they cannot go ahead if they don’t receive support from neighbouring countries.
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