Afghanistan – Taliban and International Community

By | December 16, 2021

The tightening of the Taliban’s position vis-à-vis the staff of Western humanitarian organizations – both UN agencies and other independent organizations – that took place during 2001 is just one more element in this process. Relations between the Taliban and the international community began to deteriorate in 1998, when the United States reacted to the two attacks on its embassies in Kenya and Tanzania by bombing the Afghan bases of their alleged principal, Osama Bin Laden, with cruise missiles.

However, until the mid-2000s the Taliban tried in every possible way to obtain recognition of their regime from the international community, claiming control of 90% of the territory and the success achieved in restoring ‘order and security’ in the country. and at the same time challenging the legitimacy of the Rabbani-led government of the Islamic State of Afghanistan, which was still diplomatically recognized by all but three UN states (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Pakistan). The decree issued by Mullah Omar in the summer of 2000, which prohibited the cultivation of opium poppy, in accordance with the United Nations Drug Control Program (UNDCP), can also be seen as an expression of a conciliatory will. Furthermore, at the beginning of November 2000. For Afghanistan 2013, please check

Despite these positive signs, the underlying problems between the international community and the Taliban regime have remained essentially unchanged. The Taliban, failing to comply with the resolution passed by the UN Security Council on October 15, 1999 calling for his handover, continued to offer hospitality to Osama Bin Laden, and also provided protection and even training facilities for political militants and refugees from the republics of Central Asia. Furthermore, the diplomatic recognition of the Chechen secessionist government has deeply angered Russia. In the summer of 2000, the Taliban ignored the warnings of the Personal Representative of the United Nations Secretary for Afghanistan, Francesc Vendrell, which urged them to refrain from a new massive military offensive and from targeting the civilian population during the fighting if they wanted to avoid new sanctions. In response, a campaign for the conquest of the capital of the Islamic State of Afghanistan, Taloqan, was launched in the fall of 2000 (in January 2001 a new massacre of civilians was carried out in the city of Yakaolang, in central Afghanistan).. Following this, in December 2000 the UN Security Council decided on a new series of unilateral military and diplomatic sanctions against the Taliban, which entered into force in January 2001. The sanctions include the blocking of all military supplies, including facilities. logistics, and the entry of military advisers, and the ban on travel to the

The Taliban perceived the launch of these sanctions as the end of any hope of normalization of their relations with the outside world. Consequently, the leadership of the movement was taken by hardliners, who established the futility of continuing to worry about the interests and sensitivities of the international community, starting an increasingly markedly isolationist course. These extremist elements have declared that they no longer regard the United Nations as a neutral organization and have withdrawn from the peace dialogue that has just begun. This was followed by the accusation made against the international community of not providing sufficient relief to the Afghan populations hit by a very serious drought. which condemned all non-Islamic statues to destruction, including the Buddhas of Bamiyan, an action which also strengthened the support given to the Taliban by radical Islamic forces in other Muslim nations.

The situation has further and dramatically worsened after the attacks of 11 September 2001 in the United States, of which Osama Bin Laden has been indicated as the principal. Despite international pressure, the Taliban refused to hand over the sheikh, merely inviting him, with an edict, to leave the country. The United States did not consider the measure sufficient and on 7 October started a punitive operation against the Kabul regime.

The downed giants

The two colossal Buddha statues of the Bamiyan Valley, which were destroyed by the Taliban in March 2001, represented the most important monument of Gandhara art, born from the encounter between Hellenism and the culture of the Indian subcontinent. They were known to the locals as ‘the husband’ and ‘the wife’, or even by the names of Solsol, “year after year”, the larger one, and Shahmama, “king mother”, the smaller one.

Located in the center of a complex of about 750 Buddhist monasteries, carved into the limestone wall and once very rich in works of art, the Buddhas of Bamiyan date back to the first centuries after Christ, probably to the 3rd and 5th centuries; the valley was very busy at the time, constituting an obligatory passage for caravans carrying precious goods from India and China to the West and, following the reverse route, from Rome, Syria and Egypt to the East.

The statues, made by digging the rock and leaving the back of the figures attached to the stone, were set in two niches, plastered with stucco and entirely frescoed with representations of the life of Buddha. Painted stucco also covered the Buddhas, whose robes were blue and red, their faces and hands gilded. It is not difficult to imagine what impression the two giants might have aroused in the eyes of travelers, when they entered the valley coming from the surrounding arid landscapes.

Spared by successive waves of conquerors, the statues were the object of iconoclasm of the Arabs from the earliest times of their conquest of the country: the front of the face was then sawed off from the Buddhas. Hands and faces were also erased from the frescoes in the niches. But, on the whole, until the destruction wrought by the Taliban the statues had withstood the onslaught of time and religious hostility, even if by the mid-1990s the disfigurements had become more conspicuous. In fact, even before March 2001, the Buddhas had severe chipping and other ‘wounds’ inflicted by mortars and explosions. Furthermore, a compartment located behind the feet of the great Buddha had been transformed by the Taliban into a depot for weapons and ammunition.

The history of Afghanistan

Present-day Afghanistan borders with Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to the north, with China for a short distance to the north-east (the appendix wedged between the Pamir and the Hindu Kush), with Pakistan to the east and south, with Iran to the west. The territory, mainly mountainous and located at the meeting point of three great physical and cultural regions (the Iranian plateau, the Turanian steppes and the Indian subcontinent), lacks a precise geographical and ethnic unity, a condition that has contributed to that an Afghan nation state is a relatively recent creation, dating back to the 18th century. The reasons for its formation were at the same time internal aspirations and foreign interference, the latter aimed at creating, especially in the nineteenth century, a buffer zone between the

Before that, the history of Afghanistan was closely intertwined with that of its neighboring regions. Its geographical position has made the region, in every age, a place of passage, not only for migrations and invasions, but also for merchants, caravans, pilgrims. The Hindu-Kush barrier must be bypassed or crossed by those who want to go from Iran or from high Asia to India: it is the old ‘road to India’. In Afghan territory it is cut by a second route, the so-called ‘silk road’, which connects the West with Chinese Turkestan through the Pamir. This was one of the most important trade routes in the Middle Ages, also traveled by Marco Polo in his travels to reach Catai. In this way the contacts between the Far Eastern and Persian civilizations took place. Buddhism, on the other hand, going back the way of the invaders, penetrated Afghanistan from India and met here with the art and thought of Greece.

Afghanistan - Taliban and International Community