By Mohammad Mazhari

New generation of Taliban emerging, MP says

January 26, 2021 - 11:46

TEHRAN – Pointing to the brutality and violence among the first generation of the Taliban, an Iranian parliamentarian says that the Taliban has changed and the new generation of the movement is totally different in attitude.

“The first generation of the Taliban was reflecting brutality and violence and committed massacres against many Afghans, especially Shias,” Ahmad Naderi tells the Tehran Times.

However, according to the MP, this was the first generation of the Taliban and observers must take into consideration recent changes in the Taliban’s attitudes.

“Certainly, the Taliban, like many other movements, has changed, and the new generation of the movement is different from the previous generation,” argues Naderi, a graduate of anthropology.

The following is the text of the interview:

Q: What did you mean when you said in a tweet that the Taliban is a genuine movement?

A: Sociology considers classical social movements as a phenomenon that has three components: Social actor, ideology, and social context.

According to the French sociologist Alain Touraine, these three components, if combined well, can raise the project level of a movement. So, we call it a genuine movement.

We have three types of social actors; assuming the movement to be a pyramid, we can see some actors play the role of leadership at the top of the pyramid. Meanwhile, some others are distributors, and the rest are the mass of people at the bottom of the pyramid.

Distributors actually act as mediators between the bottom of the pyramid and the top. We have this definition in the classical sociology of the social movement. Ideology is a vital component in any movement that can be communist, Islamic, or liberal, and so on. The social context also refers to the economic, cultural, or political context. A movement that has these three components is a genuine movement in the classical sociology of social movements.

 Besides, in the current situation, the only alternative that can stand against the global jihadists of ISIS is the Taliban. When I say the Taliban is a genuine movement, I do not mean approval of this phenomenon; I just say the Taliban is a movement on the ground.

Nevertheless, the Taliban movement is a deep-rooted movement in Afghanistan enjoying a social background called the Pashtuns; however, the Taliban is not limited to the Pashtun people. There are various groups in the Taliban that are not necessarily Pashtuns. Therefore, from this perspective, the Taliban is a genuine movement. I do not make any positive or negative judgment.

Q: What is the Islamic Republic's stance on the Taliban?

A: The Taliban must be understood in a chronological context. It should be viewed from an anachronistic point of view, not synchrological. That is why we need to look at the Taliban as a historic phenomenon.

The first generation of the Taliban was reflecting brutality and violence and committed massacres against many Afghans, especially Shias.

It is said that Iranian diplomats were assassinated by the Taliban, but I very doubt it. According to some accounts inside and outside Iran, the Iranian diplomats were martyred in Mazar-e-Sharif but not by the Taliban. Rather, an intelligence service attributed to one of Iran's regional rivals engaged in terror operations to worsen the relationship between Iran and the Taliban at that time and even brought Tehran to the brink of war on the Taliban in Afghanistan.

These events pushed the Islamic Republic to decide entering Afghanistan territory. "I transferred two mechanized divisions to the Afghan border within 48 hours and we were ready to attack the Taliban on the Afghan soil," said former IRGC commander Rahim Safavi.

However, this was the first generation of the Taliban and their attitudes and behavior are not defensible. But is the Taliban a constant phenomenon that has not changed at either the structure or the agent level?

Certainly, the Taliban, like many other movements, has changed, and the new generation of the movement is different from the previous generation.

Besides, in the current situation, the only alternative that can stand against the global jihadists of ISIS is the Taliban.

We now see that the United States has several candidates for hosting ISIS, one of them is Afghanistan. The most important reason for sending ISIS terrorists to Afghanistan is its geopolitical and geostrategic position.

 Afghanistan is located between regional and global powers: China, Russia, India, Iran, and Pakistan. These powers are seeking a serious position and contribution to the future world order. 

Afghanistan is still important to the United States, and the deployment of ISIS in Afghanistan could disrupt the balance between regional actors. Who can stand in face of ISIS as a local player?

Certainly, the Taliban! Because they make up half of Afghanistan's society and have an ethnic social background inside Pashtun people.

Therefore, we must look at this issue from the perspective of national interests. I think the second generation of the Taliban can confront ISIS, and this creates a strategic link between the Taliban and the national interests of Iran, and also Russia and China.

Q: Do you expect that the Taliban has cut ties with its traditional supporters, including Saudi Arabia?

A: Unlike its new generation, the old generation of the Taliban had a strong connection with Saudi Arabia that no longer continues.

 In other words, the Taliban has turned away from the ideology of Salafism and Wahhabism. I recommend you to watch Mohsen Islamzadeh's documentary film "Alone among the Taliban", which offers a brilliant account of what is going on inside the Taliban.

The documentary by Mohsen Islamzadeh was made in 2015 before Jurgen Todenhofer wrote: “My Journey into the Heart of Terror: Ten Days in the Islamic State”. Islamzadeh went to the Taliban and produced this global documentary, which has been translated into multiple languages.

This documentary shows that the media representation of the Taliban no longer is true, at least in the new generation of the movement.

The violent Salafism that was rooted in the first generation of the Taliban due to close ties between Deobandiyya schools and Saudi Arabia has faded in later generations, according to the film.

 Therefore, the Taliban has no significant ties with Saudi Arabia and even no longer has the former ties with Pakistan.

In the current situation, our relationship with the Taliban is based on the principle of "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." We and the Taliban have a common enemy, and that is the United States.

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