Afghanistan’s Islamic Emirate Returns: Life Under a Resurgent Taliban

Afghanistan’s Islamic Emirate Returns: Life Under a Resurgent Taliban
Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016 (AP photo by Allauddin Khan).

The Afghan Taliban are experiencing a revival. Today, they find themselves in control of much of the territory they claimed before 9/11, a new version of the Islamic Emirate that the U.S. intended to eliminate. Instead of focusing on public statements, policymakers trying to assess the Taliban’s motives must closely examine what life in Taliban-controlled territory looks like.

In 1992, after groups of guerrilla fighters known as mujahideen succeeded in toppling Afghanistan’s communist government, which had been backed by the Soviet Union, they quickly turned on each other, kicking off a civil war. In response, a group of young clerics in the southern province of Kandahar took up arms themselves, promising to restore order and establish an “Islamic system.” The Taliban movement, as the clerics became known, spread rapidly across the south and east of the country until 1996, when they ousted the fractious coalition of mujahideen and conquered Kabul.

For the next five years, the Taliban governed most of Afghanistan. They extended their administration to all parts of the country under their control, which at the height of their power was about 90 percent of Afghan territory. Supreme authority rested with Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader, and the Taliban renamed the Afghan state as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.