Opinion

Taliban infiltrating the Afghan Army

Taliban in Afghanistan

The speed with which Afghan troops have collapsed in the face of the Taliban advance comes as a surprise to many insiders, but not to all. It has long been suspected that the military units created and maintained by the United States to prevent their return were infiltrated by a high percentage of Taliban fighters.

The same is happening with the improvised and poorly selected security forces, which explains their ineffectiveness in the face of the wave of attacks that have claimed thousands of victims among the civilian population in recent years. The Americans invested many millions of dollars and much effort in creating a modern army to guarantee the survival of the democratic government that they had also improvised.

It was all to no avail. The fanaticism that exists among the Taliban, a militia born of the most radical Islamist beliefs, together with the hatred of foreigners inherited from the times of the Soviet occupation, managed to unite a very large percentage of a poor, uneducated population, clinging to its past and resistant to any kind of evolution.

The presence of Bin Laden, who set up Al-Qaeda's headquarters there more than twenty years ago, was a decisive factor in seizing the levers of power and imposing his most aggressive and retrograde pretensions. What is surprising at this point is that people still long to see women in burqas and girls kept out of schools.

Some hold the view that perhaps a renewed Taliban government today will not be the same as the regime that fell with the US invasion in retaliation for the sadly unforgettable 9/11 attacks and the toppling of the twin towers in New York. But the indications are that this will not be the case.

The Taliban are returning to Kabul in a spirit of revenge for how much has changed in recent years and the experience of the regime they have been imposing in the cities and regions they have come to control is a reminder. The impression gathered by those in the military who experienced the experience of preventing their return is pessimistic.

Nor can it be expected that new allies in the area will be able to influence the new rulers sufficiently to move, at least in the short term, towards some principles more in keeping with the times. The Taliban are fully in control of a complicated country that is likely to regain its centre of Jihadist activity in its different branches.