Ukrainian Oriental Studies Expert Yaroslav Pilipchuk: “Tough times await the people of Afghanistan.”

by Sami Burgaz
By Ulviye Filiyeva ERKEC
Pilipchuk Yaroslav Valentinovich

Doctor of Historical Sciences, Orientalist, lecturer at the National Pedagogical University of Ukraine named after M.P.Dragomanov. Main research area, is the history of the Kipchaks in the centuries of 9-13. In 2019, at the I. Kripyakevich Ukrainian Studies Institute of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, He defended his doctoral thesis on “Social History of the Kipchaks in the Centuries of 9-13”. He has published 30 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals, three single-authored and two co-authored books.

Mr. Yaroslav, as an Eastern sciences expert, how do you evaluate the source, current and perspective of the developments in Afghanistan?

In fact, the source of these events is based on the events of the 70s of the 20th century. Because from this date on, it has been possible to fight under the slogans of Islam. In fact, Pandora’s box was opened by Mohammed Daoud, who, with the help of officers, overthrew Zahir Shah. Thus, the established order of the objects was questioned. Mohammed David supported the westernization of the country. This led to an uprising of supporters of Muslim traditions in 1975. Muslims organized themselves in Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Islamic Party. At the same time, Afghan communists were hiding in secret bunkers. Nur Mohammed Taraki came to power in April 1978, after Mohammed Dawud was overthrown by the Afghan Communist Party. Teraki was forcibly bringing a socialist order to Afghanistan. The emergence of a communist state nearby caused concern on the part of Pakistan.

In 1978, the National Islamic Front of Afghanistan, the Khalesa Islamic Party, the Islamic Revolution Movement of Afghanistan and the National Liberation Front of Afghanistan emerged on the territory of Pakistan. Some provinces fell out of the central government’s control, and in 1979 the Islamist movement in Afghanistan intensified even more. When an anti-government uprising broke out in Herat in March 1979, part of the army in the city garrison sided with the rebels. The uprising in Jalalabad was prevented. In July 1979 the situation escalated and Islamists tried to seize power in Kabul and Gardez. In the spring, the Muslims of Nuristan declared the establishment of an independent Nuristan, and in August 1979 the Hazaras proclaimed the establishment of an independent Hazarajat.

These events led to the dismissal of Nur Muhammed Taraki and the coming to power of Hafizullah Emin. Nur Mohammed Taraki sought support from Pakistan and the United States, and the new leader launched a fight against purges and attackers of Islamists in the Communist Party. At the end of December 1979, Soviet special services physically eliminated Emin and brought Babrak Karmal to power. Soviet troops were brought into the country to protect his power. The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan continued between 1979 and 1989. Karmal remained in power until 1986, when he was succeeded by Mohammed Najibullah. The Islamists were acting against the Soviet invaders in various parts of the country. The Afghan rebels, supported by Pakistan and the United States, were also supported by Arab monarchs in the Persian Gulf. The Mujahideen, whose headquarters was in Peshawar, Pakistan, were led by the Peshawar Seven (Gulbuddin Hikmatyar, Burhaneddin Rabani, Abdul Rasul Sayaf, Yunus Khales, Sayed Ahmad Geylani, Sebgatulla Mojadadi, Muhammad Nabi Muhammadi) during this period. Also, the Islamists were the Shiite Eight, which received support from Iran. The Shiite Eight controlled the Hazaras lands and the Afghan-Iranian border areas. In 1992, the Najibullah regime fell and the Islamic State of Afghanistan was proclaimed, replacing the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan established by Burhanuddin Rabbani. In effect, the country was fragmented, and the provinces were administered by local field commanders. The Talips were able to unite most of the country. The Taliban Movement was founded in 1989 by Mohammed Omar in Kandahar. In 1995, Arab Islamists began supporting the movement, and the Talips defeated Gulbuddin Hekmatyar that same year. In 1996, the Taliban took Kabul and drove government forces out.

In the north, the Northern Alliance was formed, led by Tajik Ahmed Shah Massoud and Burhanuddin Rabbani, and Uzbek Abdul Rashid Dostum. The establishment of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan was declared. Sharia orders were introduced in the country. Moderate Islamists were replaced by radical Islamists. In 2001, the counter-terrorism operation began with the invasion of US troops and their allies with the help of the Northern Alliance. By 2004, the Taliban were driven into Pakistan and the pro-American Hamid Karzai regime was established in Kabul. The Taliban established the Islamic State of Waziristan in a part of Pakistan’s North-West Province. A number of Taliban commanders were eliminated as a result of a series of special operations in 2011-2013. In 2004-2014 Afghanistan was ruled by Hamid Karzai. He was replaced by Eşref Ghani in 2014.

In 2014, the Taliban launched a large-scale guerrilla war in Afghanistan. In 2018, Ashraf Ghani declared a ceasefire with the Taliban. In 2020-2021, the Taliban met with representatives of many states, especially Russia. In 2021, the new US President Joseph Biden announced the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. The President expressed his belief that 300,000 government troops will stand against the Taliban, whose numbers are 75,000. During the offensive in May-August 2021, the Taliban overthrew the Ghani regime. Most pro-government forces surrendered to the Taliban with little or no resistance. Ashraf Ghani fled the country in disgrace in the face of the Taliban attack in Kabul. The Americans were able to save very few people who trusted them.

What do you think the Afghan people are going through inside? Although the Taliban declared that they do not want any enemies inside or outside, and displayed a forgiving attitude, a new wave of migration awaits the countries of the region at the moment. Do you think the Taliban will keep their word?

Difficult times await Afghanistan and its people. Iranian mediators protect Shiites from Taliban pressure. The Taliban see Afghanistan primarily as a Pashtun republic. For tactical purposes, they agreed with almost all Afghan ethnic groups, including Tajiks, Khazars, Aymaks, Pashais. During the crisis in the government of Ashraf Ghani, an agreement could not be reached with the Uzbeks, who declared activities for the establishment of the Southern Turkestan Republic. When we look at the reactions of the people who tried to board the planes leaving Afghanistan by using every method, it is understood that they did not believe in the promises of general amnesty. Most people will naturally bow to the Taliban, but large-scale migration flows from Afghanistan to Europe and Central Asia are also possible. It is clear that Uzbeks and Tajiks who are not loyal to the Taliban will try to flee to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. As an example, Abdul-Rashid stated that the Taliban cannot be resisted.

Women announcers have been replaced by men, and the order that existed under the Ghani regime has now been replaced by sharia. Efforts to build democracy in Afghanistan have stalled. The secular republic will be replaced by the theocratic republic. The promises made by the Taliban were made for tactical reasons, thus aiming to legitimize the Taliban’s dominance in the eyes of Western countries. Russian analysts say Russia is not against negotiating with any regime in Afghanistan. It is possible to say that the oppression of ethnic minorities in the country will not be the first time. However, the Taliban will still bring a strict Islamic regime to Afghanistan. I think this situation will be remotely similar to the Khomeini regime after the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran.

Do you think Tajiks and Uzbeks, who are the majority in the country, will be represented in the new government? Which ethnic groups have represented the Afghan government from past to present?

Tajiks will likely be represented in the government. I’m not sure about Uzbeks. In general, I think the Taliban will be tolerant towards the Iranian, Indo-Aryan and Nuristan peoples. I am not sure that the Taliban will show the same attitude towards the Turkic peoples, the Turkmen, the Uzbeks and the Qizilbash. Uzbeks stated that they do not see themselves as a part of Afghanistan’s future. In a democratic Afghanistan from 2004-2021, the government was multinational. I think Pashtuns will form the majority and other ethnic groups will be included in the government for the positive image of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in the world. It would be a surprise to me if Uzbeks and Turkmens were represented in the government.

Do you see the danger of a new civil war in Afghanistan?

After the surrender of the government forces and the escape of Dostum and Ghani, there was almost no force left in the country that could resist the Taliban. Ahmed Shah Massoud’s son Ahmed Massoud and Amrullah Salih continue to resist in the Panjshir Valley. But they, too, are doomed to defeat. There is no power like the Northern Alliance yet. I think Necibullah’s sad fate awaits them. The victory of the Taliban is actually a victory for Iran and China, as well as one of the biggest political failures of the USA in the Central Asian region. Also, the victory of the Taliban showed that the Russian government was not against their rule by negotiating with the Taliban. The loss of American image will be seen as a victory by the Russians as well as by the Iranians and Chinese. Democracy trials in Afghanistan ended in fiasco, just like democracy trials in Iraq.

One of the most curious issues in Afghanistan right now is the role of women in society. How do you evaluate the role of women in Afghan society from the past to the present?

The gender issue is a sensitive issue for Afghanistan. For a long time, women were in the submissive position. With the Westernization and Sovietization of Afghanistan, Afghan women were relatively liberated. The arrival of the Talips to Government took them back to the Middle Ages. The gender issue is a sensitive issue for Afghanistan. For a long time, women were in the submissive position. With the Westernization and Sovietization of Afghanistan, Afghan women were relatively liberated. The arrival of the Suitors to Government took them back to the Middle Ages. You cannot see this treatment of women neither in Iran nor in some Arab monarchies. The era of democracy in Afghanistan gave birth to hopes for the return of a secular state order and the relative freedom of women along the lines of Central Asian countries. However, the Taliban’s return to power and their attitudes towards women in gender politics show that their attitudes have not changed. Women will be kept away from sports, science and other areas of social life.

How do you evaluate the impact of the developments in Afghanistan on the South Caucasus?

The South Caucasus is not a direct neighbor of Afghanistan. In my opinion, Azerbaijan, the country of the South Caucasus, need not worry. If I were the Azerbaijanis, I would think more about the revenge of the Armenians. The only issue that Azerbaijan is interested in in this situation is the Qizilbash (sub-ethnic people of Azerbaijan) who have been living in the region since the Safavid period in Afghanistan. It may be possible to bring Qizilbash to Karabakh, similar to Israel’s policy regarding post-Soviet Falasha Jews. However, cultural differences between them and other Azeris should be taken into account. The integration of Falasha Jews into society caused problems in Israel. Afghanistan problem poses a problem for Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The peace achieved in the Karabakh talks in the autumn of 2020 is not peace, but a ceasefire. And the events of this year show that there is already conflict. This is still a small war in the form of skirmishes on the border. The influence of Islam in the Caucasus is exaggerated. The Islamist view (Islamism) was nearly defeated by the Russians in Chechnya and Dagestan. Azerbaijan, on the other hand, is a secular, multi-religious (Islamic predominantly), multi-cultural state. Despite President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s sympathy for Islam, Turkey still continues to exist as a secular state. I think that little will change in Azerbaijan with the coming of Islamists to the government in distant Afghanistan. The influence of the Islamists among the Turks is many times less than in the Arab countries and the countries of the Sahel region.

Opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of The Asia Today.


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