Fundamentalism and return of the Taliban

July 22, 2021
Fundamentalism and return of the Taliban

Abdullah Bin Bjad Al-Otaibi

Some nations and cultures lived through a phase of fundamentalism as they sought to achieve a higher civilized level. This is what happened in the predominantly Western cultures in all fields in this phase of the history of human civilization.

The problem is that after liberating itself from the dark phase, the Western world had its fluctuating positions with regard to fundamentalism, and this is what happened in the Arab and Islamic world too.

I want to say emphatically so as to dispel any misunderstanding that Islamic fundamentalism has nothing to do with the religion of Islam, just as Jewish or Christian fundamentalism has nothing to do with Judaism or Christianity.

Fundamentalism is a political theory and partisan organizations use religion and exploit its holiness to achieve narrow partisan gains, a disease from which nations rarely recover unless they develop a sharp awareness of its danger with the presence of elites and leaders capable of confronting it and mapping out the way for the future.

The strong return of the Taliban to the scene in Afghanistan is a huge political and historical event, not a passing one. Two decades after the intervention of the most powerful American empire in history with its military might and broad alliances, there is the movement ready again to tighten its grip on the Afghan state, and it is just a matter of time it seizes full control.

The return of the Taliban is very important and meaningful for those who keep claiming that the “Brotherhood” has ended or that surrealism has disappeared. It is also an affirmation that the task of liberating from fundamentalist ideological groups and parties, as well as their ideologies and discourse, concepts and methods is a clear task and needs to have a comprehensive vision, long-term strategic plans, and a determination to rid the society from the clutches of backwardness, ignorance, extremism and hatred.

In May 2011, I wrote an article titled “The rise of fundamentalists and the time of fundamentalism,” in which the emphasis was on the rise of fundamentalism. What is happening today is the return of the Taliban and the return of the Brotherhood and other political groups of Islam to countries and societies that were supposed to have rejected them but are now exposed to them in new ways. This emphasizes strongly that we are still living in the phase of fundamentalism that differs from one place to another, but we have not got rid of it.

One of the manifestations of the return of the phase of fundamentalism in the countries and societies, individuals and institutions in the Middle East is the bias of the Western liberal left to ally with all fundamentalists in the region despite the failure of this alliance during what was known as the “Arab Spring.”

What we see today is that negotiations with the Iranian fundamentalist regime are in full swing in Vienna, the Houthi militia in Yemen is being treated with kid gloves with its terrorist designation removed, pressure is mounting on the legitimate Yemeni government and its allies to ease the confrontation with the fundamentalist terrorist militia, there is leniency in dealing with the fundamentalist “Iranian militias” in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. All these are blatant indications of the revival of fundamentalism and the return of the fundamentalist era.

In 2013, I wrote a preface of the book “The Storm and the Turban” on Afghanistan and the Taliban, in which I stated: “The book raises many questions about the political and ideological future of the Taliban movement, and whether it is able to develop itself to coexist with the logic of history and the balances of power in the world, or will its old failure soon return after all it had gone through? Then in the event of its return to power, can it turn the wheel of history back? Can it ignore the major changes that have taken place over the years?” These are the questions that meet in this period with many answers.

The sudden and rapid American withdrawal gave the Taliban a strong opportunity to return forcefully and quickly to control the Afghan state, and America began to count China and its rising power calculations that were not concerned with it to the same extent before, and with the invocation that Afghanistan was one of the hottest wars during the Cold War, and that ended in the defeat of the Soviet Union and its disintegration. The American decision-maker may not find any harm in repeating the same scenario, albeit with a different enemy this time, and keeping Afghanistan as a dagger in the side.

In a report by the British “Sky News” correspondent, who filmed it while escorting the Taliban forces, it was revealed the movement’s elements appeared controlling a large and modern fleet of armored vehicles, equipment, missiles and weapons left by the withdrawing US army. This was a scene that reminds us of ISIS’s control over Mosul, and its acquisition of large quantities of modern American weapons that were left there, to be taken by the terrorist organization and wreaked havoc in Iraq and Syria in the succeeding years.

Almost every development in Afghanistan points to the return of the Taliban except for some statements that are aimed at softening its image in the media at this transitional phase of power in the country.

The same old rhetoric and the same savagery of the past are there and nothing points to any radical changes in terms of ideology or savage politics.

The strategic depth of Afghanistan is located in Pakistan, which in turn does not seem to be in a hurry to express an explicit political position before the dust settles in Afghanistan and the new international power equation emerges.

The relations of the Taliban and some of the forces allied with it inside Afghanistan with the Iranian regime are well known. The nature of future developments in this relationship is subject to many variables, but they all serve to reinforce the “fundamentalist era” and the path of the “drug trade” from Afghanistan to Lebanon.

Turkey, a member of NATO, has promised America to cover its quick withdrawal from Afghanistan, and it is under explicit threats from the Taliban to get out of the country with its forces and weapons, and it seems that it will not hesitate for long in withdrawing from there once things are settled in the hands of the Taliban.

Qatar, the country with the strongest relations with the Taliban and the former Al-Qaeda outfit, with the knowledge of America that it can hold peace negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban and it has well-known tendencies that it wants to invest in the near future.

Some of the video footages that come out of there recall the biography of the first Taliban movement in its dealings with people, women, and political parties, which suggests the return of Afghanistan to become a safe haven for all terrorists and fundamentalists around the world. The Brotherhood group, which is classified as a terrorist in a number of countries, has begun to think seriously about the transfer of many of its elements and bodies to Afghanistan.

Finally, it is prudent on part of Muslim countries to take all precautions against the return of the “fundamentalist era” to become effective, influential and get support at the international level. Rights organizations and the leftist Western media will move to attack these countries when they confront terrorists and fundamentalists.

— Al-Otaibi is a Saudi writer. This article was originally published in Al-Sharq Alawsat newspaper.

July 22, 2021
5 days ago

Italy and Saudi Arabia: Celebrating a historic partnership

6 days ago

Embracing change: A journey towards inner peace

15 days ago

Saudi Arabia healthcare evolution: Balancing challenges and breakthroughs