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Afghanistan: Taliban face many obstacles to governing – not least their violent methods

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Afghanistan has been nicknamed the “graveyard of empires” in reference to the failure of colonial attempts to govern it. Yet this often distracts from the sombre fact that anyone – whether insiders or outsiders – who has tried to establish control over the whole country has met with resistance. The speed at which the US-backed government was recently removed seems to speak to this perennial ungovernability. This is what the country’s new dominant force, the Taliban, are beginning to rediscover.

If the country made any progress towards institution building in the two decades following the ousting of the Taliban in 2001, it was only with considerable international help, financially, administratively and militarily. But these efforts suffered from deep flaws, some of them structural.

For instance, the political system established by 2001 Bonn Agreement was quasi-monarchical, giving too much power to the president. Its highly centralised hierarchy easily disintegrated after the recent fall of the capital, Kabul.

Power centralisation was worsened by President Ashraf Ghani’s tendency to concentrate authority in the presidential palace. This led many disgruntled Afghans to deride Ghani’s government as a “three-man republic” – alluding to the role by him and his two influential associates, his national security adviser, Hamdullah Mohib, and chief of staff, Fazel Mahmood Fazli.

In the wake of Taliban’s takeover, there were hopes that some state capacities could be sustained if the new administration was inclusive and outward-looking enough to court international recognition and assistance. But the caretaker cabinet, announced on........

© The Conversation

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