The Taliban Leader’s speech gives no chance for Afghanistan


The Taliban has been ruling Afghanistan for more than 20 months. The country is in the most profound humanitarian crisis in the last twenty years. International assistance is frozen or at a minimum. The population of the country is suffering, and drug production does not indicate a downward trend. At the same time, the international community is in a challenging situation. Diplomatic pressure on the Taliban leaders is in vain. The radical movement does not liberalize the political regime, granting rights to national minorities and women. In addition, the Taliban are not accepting any significant measures to combat international terrorist organizations in the country. The country is moving towards feudalism based on the most rigid interpretation of radical Islam.

On the eve of the Taliban leader Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada gave a speech to a mosque in Kandahar, the base of the radical movement. This rare appearance of the Taliban leader is an important milestone indicating where Afghanistan’s current de facto leadership is striving. The speech of the Taliban leader was aggressive and harsh against the international community and mediators seeking to resolve the Afghan crisis. The supreme leader of the Taliban has called on the world to stop pointing out how to govern Afghanistan, insisting that Sharia is the only model for a prosperous Islamic state.

It should be noted that Akhundzada was not filmed or took his pictures. The speech was announced in a circle of trust and a narrow circle of movement leaders. In addition, after the Taliban’s victory and coming to power in August 2021, the Taliban leader did not appear in public. There is no picture or video of his participation. The speech was dedicated to the start of the three-day Eid al-Fitr festival to mark the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. However, the Taliban media spread the main theses of their leader’s speech. “It is the success and good fortune of the Afghan nation that Allah has blessed them with an Islamic Sharia system,” he said. “I have promised Allah that so long as I am alive, not a single law of infidelity will find a place in Afghanistan.”

The statement of the Taliban leader came on the eve of an important international Afghanistan meeting, which will be held in early May in Doha. It is assumed that international mediators and diplomats should once again try to encourage the movement to soften the regime and fight terrorism in exchange for freezing Afghanistan’s assets, withdrawing from international banks, and beginning a dialogue on possible recognition of the regime in the future. However, the speech of the Taliban leader indicates that diplomatic methods and attempts to force the Taliban to reform and evolve toward a more egalitarian and adequate political system are failed. Experts believe that the Taliban, with the support of the military and politics of Pakistan, are confident that they can maintain power in Afghanistan without significant political system reform, and the fight against terrorism is not in their interests.

Thus, it is not worth believing that the recognition of the Taliban can happen in the current conditions. The leadership of the radical movement is still not ready for a deep transformation of the structure of society in Afghanistan. The Taliban are still confident that they are able to stay in power with the support of their sponsors from the military leadership of Pakistan and not carry out reforms. In this regard, we should not assume that recognition can enhance the situation in Afghanistan. Moreover, in the current conditions, it will be counterproductive and give legitimacy to the radicals.

Georgi Asatrian
Georgi Asatrian
Georgi Asatryan, associate professor, Lomonosov Moscow State University and Plekhanov Russian University of Economics.


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