The Taliban’s last regime, in the mid-1990s, was marked by human rights violations, including massacres, mass detentions and rape. The regime collapsed on Nov. 14, 2001, shortly after the U.S. launched its global war on terrorism.
Theories about what experts called “Taliban 2.0” continued after the group assumed control over Afghanistan.
Representatives from countries such as Turkey and Qatar encouraged the international community to engage with the Taliban.
While international donors have frozen about $5 billion in foreign aid to Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover, some Western countries, including the U.S., have announced increases in aid to address the country’s humanitarian crisis.
Limiting the flow of information
The Taliban have undertaken a systematic media crackdown to achieve their contradictory goals of presenting a softer face to the international community while violating Afghans’ rights.
In 2017, U.N. Children’s Fund figures showed that 3.7 million Afghan children were out of school, 60% of them girls. This percentage is now likely much greater with the Taliban’s ban on girls education.
To the domestic audience, the regime’s messages are vague. Leaders condition reopening girls education, for example, to unclear economic and moral conditions. Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar said recently that once “economic challenges are resolved, we will provide education for all those who want to pursue their studies.”
The Taliban have also banned most female government workers from returning to their jobs, resulting in a workforce restriction that would result in economic losses totaling $1 billion.
The only indication of a “new Taliban” is a much more sophisticated and strategic public relations approach for masking ongoing human rights violations.