Taliban's role across Afghanistan will turn into a serious function against Shia Islam within the great Islamic civilization in the Middle East, middle Asia and the Indian peninsula.
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Following three decades of activities in Afghanistan, Taliban seems to be approaching the ambition to launch its monopoly under the title of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. The reason why the plan by the government and its global supporters has failed to eliminate Taliban in Afghanistan should be sought in regional policies of the acting powers and also the nature of the entire issue.
Taliban has kept its mysterious identity since its emergence in 1994. It has shifted from a much Sharia-centered and anti-modernity movement in early 90's to a movement with perfect knowledge of the regional players maintaining interaction with them.
It used to be affiliated with Qaeda and extremist Salafi figures or clans while it has now found its ideological objectives and set up popularity among Islamic movements. Although it had ties with Qaeda as a field movement, it has also made it to get closer to major branches of similar Islamic movements. It is still seeking establishment of Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan and, in contrast with the past, violence is not its mere option for that end. Besides violence, regional and international diplomacy it is struggling to win allies among forces involved in Afghanistan issue naming Islamic Jamia and Islamic party. Besides Taliban's name does not stand next to groups like al-Qaeda since it has defined itself as a movement which is apparently backed by governments like Pakistan, Qatar and Turkey. This illustrates that the stance, function and objectives of Taliban are increasingly changing, a fact that has turned Taliban a greater threat than the movement it used to be back in the early 90's.
In the new agenda, Taliban is not the only project for infiltration of Pakistan in Afghanistan but it aims for borders beyond the neighboring country. There are certain indications that Muslim Brotherhood is pursuing its projects for eastern Muslim world, Islamic State Khorasan, through Taliban.
Turkey and Qatar have admitted supplying the ideological, financial, media and international aid while Pakistan is in charge of military and field assistance though there are signs that Turkey has also begun equipping Uzbek-descent Taliban members in Afghan soil and that is carried out by distancing General Abdul Rashid Dustom, as the most important leader of opposite Uzbeks with Afghanistan changes and providing the grounds for massive presence of Taliban militants in northern Afghanistan and Uzbek-dominated regions.
Among the Afghan Tajiks, the second great ethical population in northern parts of Afghanistan, the Muslim Brotherhood has been the Islamic society since long; therefore, there seems to be no problem with Taliban.
If Taliban manages to moderate the Pashtunist views formed in the minds of Afghans, the ways for this movement will be paved across the country leading to establishment of a Brotherhood state in Kabul.
The activities by this state will not be confined to Afghanistan. Its continuation to be sought in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and its possible victory in Afghanistan and recruitment in middle Asia will practically threaten Russia's backyard in middle Asia. On the other hand though, a Brotherhood government in Kabul is an ideal for Pakistan since such a government will not pursue the nationalist ideal of Pashtuns who view a considerable part of Afghan soil as belonging to Afghanistan.
Shia minority in Afghanistan, Hazara Shia to be specific, is the most important threat for Taliban and a Talibani state will make the key challenge for their political and even religious existence; therefore, if that happens they will be eradicated from the political equations in Afghanistan, entire region and also the Shia resistance front.
Amid this situation, empowerment of Taliban, Islamic Republic of Iran as the religious supporter of Shias will have no challenge called the United States in the neighboring parts of its eastern territories though that will be replaced by an ideological and inter-civilization threat that will face the Islamic Republic with a totally different challenge backed by the United States and western countries and a longer and vaster than the military threats by Washington or NATO.
The question is: Can Iran prevent that situation? Islamic Republic seems to be lacking sufficient and effective means to change the equation in Afghanistan's political arena prior to absolute domination of Taliban unless that the ethnical factors are boosted in Afghanistan and Persian speakers array in front of the Pashtun speakers, a situation which seems impossible as the present diplomacy of Taliban is preventing sectarian clashes.
It seems that if Taliban's policy as an active movement materializes, it will change from an ethnical, religious group into an absolute Brotherhood movement with regional objectives and that will make the Brotherhood as the most important political movement among the Sunnis who have for long been pushing for establishment of ruling because their efforts in northern Africa and the Levant been a failure and this empowerment of the Taliban in Khorasan (place where the sun rises) will be a true sunrise for them. If that happens then the array of Islamic movements and outbreak of battles in future decade will be clear.
Then Taliban will not be a mere player in Afghanistan rather it will be a serious player against the Shia movement within the Islamic civilization, particularly in the Middle East, middle Asia and the Indian peninsula.
Seyyed Alireza Alami is the director of Modern Civilization at Research Institute for Islamic Culture and Thoughts. Religious minorities, Shi'ism, Iranian Shi'ism and Arabic Shi'ism are among his fields of study.