The Taliban rules but the Afghan population suffers. Never before has a group like the erstwhile terrorist Taliban emerged anywhere in the Muslim world. The Taliban’s ethno-centric, gender-apartheid and theocratically ultra-extremist standing places them in a class of their own. They are the first of their kind to possess $7.2 billion worth of modern arms, including an air force courtesy of the US, to build a fully equipped military force of 150,000 troops and a sizeable contingent of suicide bombers, while reversing all the pro-liberalist changes that the country forged during the two-decade-long US and allied intervention in Afghanistan. The group has systematically engaged in restructuring the country’s entire political, social, cultural and educational landscape into their image. Their return to power and ideological and policy dispositions have certainly been a shot in the arm for other like-minded violent extremist groups – most importantly, Al Qaeda and ISIS – to emulate the group’s success. These developments have alarmed the United Nations to the extent that it recently issued a warning about the danger of rising terrorism from Afghanistan as a critical global security challenge.
This lecture addresses three issues: the circumstances under which the Taliban reassumed power; the nature, ideology and governing methods of the group; and the national and global security implications of the group in power.
About the Speaker
Amin Saikal AM, FASSA is Visiting Distinguished Fellow at RSIS, NTU; Emeritus Professor of Middle Eastern and Central Asian Studies and Founding Director of the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies (the Middle East and Central Asia) at the Australian National University; and Adjunct Professor of Social Sciences at the University of Western Australia.
He is an awardee of the Order of Australia (AM) ‘for service to the international community and education through the development of the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies, and as an author and adviser’; an elected Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia (FASSA); and the winner of Peter Baume Award (the Australian National University’s top award) recognizing ‘eminent achievement and merit of the highest order’.
His latest books include: Iran Rising: The Survival and Future of the Islamic Republic (Princeton University Press, 2021); Islam Beyond Borders: Umma in World Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2019) – co-author; The Spectre of Afghanistan: The Security of Central Asia (London: Bloomsbury/I.B. Tauris, 2021) – co-author; Iran at the Crossroads (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2016); Zone of Crisis: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Iraq (London: I.B. Tauris, 2014); Modern Afghanistan: A History of Struggle and Survival (London: I.B. Tauris, 2012); The Rise and Fall of the Shah: Iran from Autocracy to Religious Rule (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009); and Islam and the West: Conflict or Cooperation? (London: Palgrave/Macmillan, 2003).
He is also the author of numerous articles in refereed international journals and chapters in edited volumes published by highly reputable publishers. In addition, he has published in major international dailies and websites, including The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The Globe and Mail, The Project Syndicate, and The Strategist. He has been a frequent commentator on national and international TV and radio networks on issues pertinent to his field of specialty.