Parties betting on the Taliban should rethink their logic. Most religious regimes have collapsed due to their inability to separate their ideologies from the management of state affairs. Although the Taliban this year looks different from the Taliban who took power in Afghanistan in 1996, they still have the same dangerous self-destructive factors that are a hallmark of all ideologically brainwashed regimes; it does not matter whether he is a Communist, Baathist or Islamist.
In the same vein, there are several similarities between recent developments in Kabul and what happened in Tehran in 1979. When the Taliban mullah entered the city, it brought to mind the memory of Ayatollah Khomeini’s return. in Tehran when he was extremely popular – as evidenced by the millions of Iranians who took to the streets to welcome him and applaud the overthrow of the Shah’s regime. Most of these people were Iranian nationalists, leftists, or just ordinary citizens eager for political change, with only a minority belonging to the Islamic opposition movement led by Khomeini and the clerics. None of the Iranians who applauded Khomeini’s return anticipated the religious system the man was bringing to them when his Air France plane landed in Tehran.
Iran’s first president, Abolhassan Banisadr, was moderately religious. It is true that he did not wear a tie, but he did not wear a turban either. He was neither a sayyid nor a sheikh. Its most prominent minister, Qutub Zadah, has appeared so frequently on TV stations around the world.
In the West, it was difficult to define who Khomeini was. His ascetic lifestyle, resembling that of many Muslim clerics, made some think of a new Gandhi, a tolerant and humble human being. However, over the next three years, Iranians and Westerners alike realized that he was an extremist figure who hated the world. Benisadr escaped the country, Zadah was executed, and the clergymen have taken power to this day. The way of life in Tehran, which was a famous arts hub once described as the most civilized city in the Middle East, has deteriorated. The savages of Qum took over, setting up gallows that executed tens of thousands of people until the Iranian leftists ceased to exist.
Women were forced to stay at home, and doors to theaters, cinemas and art galleries were closed.
The Taliban are not a new phenomenon, and the seniors of Kabul know it well since they lived under his rule in the 1990s. Last week, when the movement took control, its armed men appeared with the same old outfit, but with different rhetoric. However, after the media echoed the tolerant statements made by the Taliban, the world gradually discovered that everything the movement said was nothing more than a public relations campaign meant to prepare for its return. and its seizure of power in Afghanistan with the least possible losses. The point is, the Taliban haven’t and will not change, and it’s hard to believe anything else. We will be monitoring developments as they emerge until the end of this year.
Taliban leaders and gunmen in their attire and impression give a sharp image of an Islamist group, unlike other groups that try to add a modern appearance, but just like these groups, they divide people according to clear lines of “those who are with us” and “those who are against us” or “Muslims” and “infidels.” The al-Nahda Party in Tunisia, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the National Islamist Party in Sudan , the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Houthis in Yemen are all political-religious groups as well.
However, the Taliban appear closer to the Houthis of Yemen, as in both groups, tribal affiliations play a key role in the dynamics of the movement, yet they remain encapsulated in a religious ideological mindset hostile to civil openness. A number of Afghans I have listened to do not think the Taliban appearing on television is the real one, pointing out that most of its gunmen are young graduates of extremist Islamist religious schools, and they are now responsible for the country with its streets, schools, mosques and media.
This gives us an indication of what the country will look like in the years to come. Most likely, the old rulers will disappear with the rise of extremists. Most of the Islamist movements that have seized or shared power have suffered from this conflict where extremists inside the movement take control of all decision-making mechanisms and exclude moderate leadership – assuming that such groups may have some variety among its members.