Steve Coll on Decoding the New Taliban

DecodingIn the New Yorker blog, Think Tank , Steve Coll praised Decoding the New Taliban: Insights from the Afghan Field, edited by Antonio Giustozzi calling it “an outstanding and important collection.”

Coll cites two essays from the collection, one that examines Taliban propaganda and communication strategies and another that analyzes the Taliban-affiliated networks of founded by Jalalauddin Haqqani, the former Central Intelligence Agency asset whose followers apparently were responsible for the kidnapping of New York Times reporter David Rohde.

Coll concludes the piece, writing:

Overall, the work Giustozzi has pulled together here is as up-to-date as scholarship can be. There is an emphasis on how the Taliban have evolved and changed in local settings since 2001. Equally striking, however, is the portrait that accumulates of the Taliban’s continuity. The book’s essays describe how national and provincial figures from the nineties-era Taliban government, formally known the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, remain intact and operate as a shadow administration, holding portfolios similar to their previous ones.

The Taliban were not shattered in December, 2001, and then forced to reassemble. Rather, their national government in Kabul and Kandahar retreated into exile in Pakistan, survived a relatively brief period of disarray, and then reassembled itself to return to its southern and eastern strongholds in Afghanistan.

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