Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan

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Not to be confused with Emirate of Afghanistan.
Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
د افغانستان اسلامي امارات
Da Afghanistan Islami Amarat

Flag Emblem
lā ʾilāha ʾillà l-Lāh, Muḥammadun rasūlu l-Lāh
لا إله إلا الله محمد رسول الله
"There is no god but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God"
قلعه اسلام قلب اسیا
Capital Kabul (Official)[2]
Kandahar (De facto)[3]
Languages Pashto[4]
Religion Deobandi Islam[5]
Government Islamic theocracy
Totalitarian dictatorship[citation needed]
Amir al-Mu'minin
 -  1996–2001 Mohammed Omar
Prime Minister
 -  1996–2001 Mohammad Rabbani
 -  2001 Abdul Kabir (acting)
Legislature Jirga
Historical era Civil War / War on Terror
 -  Rise to Power 27 September 1996[1]
 -  Fall of Kabul 13 November 2001
 -  2000 587,578 km² (226,865 sq mi)
 -  2001 est. 26,813,057 
Currency Afghani
Internet TLD .iea

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan[6] (Pashto: د افغانستان اسلامي امارات, Da Afghanistan Islami Amarat) was the state established in 1996 when the Taliban began their rule of Afghanistan and ended with their fall from power in 2001. Even at the peak of their influence, the Taliban did not control the entirety of Afghanistan, as about 10% of the country in the northeast was held by the Northern Alliance.[7]


The Taliban and its rule arose from the chaos of post-Soviet Afghanistan. It began as an Islamic fundamentalist politico-religious movement composed of madrasa students in southern Afghanistan. Overwhelmingly ethnic Pashtuns, the Taliban blended Pashtunwali tribal code with elements of Deobandi Islamic teaching to form an anti-Western and anti-modern Islamic ideology with which it ruled.[8] It began to receive support from neighboring Pakistan as well as from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In the meantime, countries like the United States and others were watching from a distance and hoping that this new movement would end the Afghan civil war.

Ethnic Conflict[edit]

The Taliban were perceived as being particularly brutal towards those they considered non-Afghans. Pashtun people comprised the vast majority of the Taliban movement. As the Taliban expanded from their southern and south-eastern strongholds, they encountered more resistance due to the fact that their brand of Deobandi Islam, incorporated with the pashtun tribal code of Pashtunwali, was alien to the other ethnic groups of Afghanistan.[9][10][11][12] The Battles of Mazar-i-Sharif (1997–98) where Taliban fighters killed between 8000-10,000 Hazaras and Uzbeks in response to 3000 executed Taliban fighters were a result of this ethnic tension.[13][14]


Spreading from Kandahar, the Taliban eventually seized Kabul in 1996. By the end of 2000, the Taliban were able to capture 90% of the country, aside from the opposition (Northern Alliance) strongholds primarily found in the northeast corner of Badakhshan Province. The Taliban sought to impose a strict interpretation of Islamic Sharia law and were later implicated as supporters of mujahideen, most notably by harbouring Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network.

During the five-year history of the Islamic Emirate, much of the population experienced restrictions on their freedom and violations of their human rights. Women were banned from working, and girls were forbidden to attend schools or universities and were requested to observe purdah and to abstain from obscenities. Those who resisted were punished. Communists were systematically executed and thieves were punished by amputating one of their hands or feet. Meanwhile, the Taliban succeeded in nearly eradicating the majority of the opium production by 2001.[15]

International relations[edit]

Only Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) recognized the Taliban government.[16] The state was not recognised in the UN.

Relations between the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and Iran deteriorated in 1998 after Taliban forces seized the Iranian consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif and executed Iranian diplomats. Following this incident, Iran threatened to invade Afghanistan by massing up military forces near the Afghan border but intervention by the United Nations Security Council and the United States prevented the war.

One reason for lack of international recognition was the Taliban's disregard for human rights and the rule of law as demonstrated by their actions on taking power. One of the first acts of the Taliban upon seizing power was the execution of the former Communist President of Afghanistan, Mohammad Najibullah. Before the Taliban had even taken control of Afghanistan's capital they sent out a squad to arrest Najibullah. As Najibullah was staying in the United Nations compound in Kabul, this was a violation of international law. As a further example, the Taliban regime was also heavily criticised for the murder of Iranian diplomats in Afghanistan[17] in 1998. The Taliban supported the Islamic militants operating in Chechnya and Xinjiang, thus antagonizing Russia and the People's Republic of China simultaneously.

In 2013, the Taliban opened an office in Qatar[18] with the goal of beginning talks between themselves, the United States and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.[19] There was a conflict after the office raised the white flag of the former Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry saying that the office could be closed if there was not a "move forward" in peace negotiations.[20][21]

Bamyan Buddhas[edit]

Destruction of Buddhas March 21 2001

In 1999, Mullah Omar issued a decree protecting the Buddha statues at Bamyan, two 6th-century monumental statues of standing buddhas carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamyan valley in the Hazarajat region of central Afghanistan. He did this because Afghanistan had no Buddhists, so idolatry would not be a problem. But in March 2001, the statues were destroyed by the Taliban of Mullah Omar, following a decree stating: "all the statues around Afghanistan must be destroyed."[22] This prompted an international outcry from nations such as Japan, India, South Korea, Nepal, Iran, Qatar, and Russia. Even Saudi Arabia and the UAE, both of which were among only three nations to recognize the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, voiced their opposition. The Arab branch of UNESCO, a cultural and educational agency of the United Nations, labelled the destruction as "savage".[23][24]


On 15 October 1999, the UN Security Council established a sanctions regime to cover individuals and entities associated with Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden and/or the Taliban.[25] Since the U.S. Invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the sanctions were applied to individuals and organizations in all parts of the world; also targeting former members of the Taliban government.

On January 27, 2010, a United Nations sanctions committee removed five former senior Taliban officials from this list, in a move favoured by Afghan President Karzai. The decision means the five will no longer be subject to an international travel ban, assets freeze and arms embargo. The five men, all high-ranking members of the Taliban government:

All had been added to the list in January or February 2001.[26]

Mohammed Omar continues to speak in the name of this Emirate.[27]

Military under the Taliban[edit]

Taliban police patrolling the streets of Herat, 2001

The Taliban maintained a military during their period of control. The Taliban army possessed over 400 T-54/55 and T-62 tanks and more than 200 Armoured personal carriers.[28] The Afghan Air Force under the Taliban maintained five supersonic MIG-21MFs and 10 Sukhoi-22 fighter-bombers.[29] In 1995, during the 1995 Airstan incident, a Taliban fighter plane captured a Russian transport. They also held six Mil Mi-8 helicopters, five Mi-35s, five L-39Cs, six An-12s, 25 An-26s, a dozen An-24/32s, an IL-18, and a Yakovlev.[30] Their civil air service contained two Boeing 727A/Bs, a Tu-154, five An-24s, and a DHC-6.[30]


Main article: Taliban conscription

According to the testimony of Guantanamo captives before their Combatant Status Review Tribunals, the Taliban, in addition to conscripting men to serve as soldiers, also conscripted men to staff its civil service.[31]


Opium in Taliban safehouse in Helmand

The Kabul money markets responded positively during the first weeks of the Taliban occupation. But the Afghani soon fell in value.[32] They imposed a 50% tax on any company operating in the country, and those who failed to pay were attacked.[33] They also imposed a 6% import tax on anything brought into the country,[34] and by 1998 had control of the major airports and border crossings which allowed them to establish a monopoly on all trade.[34] By 2001 the per capita income of the 25 million population was under $200,[35] and the country was close to total economic collapse.[36] As of 2007 the economy had begun to recover, with estimated foreign reserves of three billion dollars and a 13% increase in economic growth.[37]

Under the Transit treaty between Afghanistan and Pakistan a massive network for smuggling developed. It had an estimated turnover of 2.5 billion dollars with the Taliban receiving between $100 and $130 million per year.[38] These operations along with the trade from the Golden Crescent financed the war in Afghanistan and also had the side effect of destroying start up industries in Pakistan.[39] Ahmed Rashid also explained that the Afghan Transit Trade agreed on by Pakistan was "the largest official source of revenue for the Taliban."[40]

Between 1996 and 1999 Mullah Omar reversed his opinions on the drug trade, apparently as it only harmed kafirs. The Taliban controlled 96% of Afghanistan's poppy fields and made opium its largest source of taxation.[40] Taxes on opium exports became one of the mainstays of Taliban income and their war economy.[40] According to Rashid, "drug money funded the weapons, ammunition and fuel for the war."[40] In the New York Times, the Finance Minister of the United Front, Wahidullah Sabawoon, declared the Taliban had no annual budget but that they "appeared to spend US$300 million a year, nearly all of it on war." He added that the Taliban had come to increasingly rely on three sources of money: "poppy, the Pakistanis and bin Laden."[40]

In an economic sense it seems however he had little choice, as the war of attrition continued with the Northern Alliance the income from continued opium production was all that prevented the country from starvation.[41] By 2000 Afghanistan accounted for an estimated 75% of the world's supply and in 2000 grew an estimated 3276 tonnes of opium from poppy cultivation on 82,171 hectares.[42] At this juncture Omar passed a decree banning the cultivation of opium, and production dropped to an estimated 74 metric tonnes from poppy cultivation on 1,685 hectares.[43] Many observers say the ban - which came in a bid for international recognition at the United Nations - was only issued in order to raise opium prices and increase profit from the sale of large existing stockpiles.[40] The year 1999 had yielded a record crop and had been followed by a lower but still large 2000 harvest.[40] The trafficking of accumulated stocks by the Taliban continued in 2000 and 2001.[40] In 2002, the UN mentioned the "existence of significant stocks of opiated accumulated during previous years of bumper harvests."[40] In September 2001 – before the 11 September attacks against the United States – the Taliban allegedly authorized Afghan peasants to sow opium again.[40]

There was also an environmental toll to the country, heavy deforestation from the illegal trade in timber with hundreds of acres of pine and cedar forests in Kunar Province and Paktya being cleared.[44][45] Throughout the country millions of acres were denuded to supply timber to the Pakistani markets, with no attempt made at reforestation,[46] which has led to significant environmental damage.[47] By 2001, when the Afghan Interim Administration took power the country's infrastructure was in ruins, Telecommunications had failed, the road network was destroyed and Ministry of Finance buildings were in such a state of disrepair some were on the verge of collapse.[48] On July 6, 1999 former president Bill Clinton signed into effect executive order 13129. This order implemented a complete ban on any trade between America and the Taliban regime and on August 10 they froze £5000,000 in Ariana assets.[49] On December 19, 2000 UN resolution 1333 was passed. It called for all assets to be frozen and for all states to close any offices belonging to the Taliban. This included the offices of Ariana Afghan Airlines.[50] In 1999 the UN had passed resolution 1267 which had banned all international flights by Ariana apart from preapproved humanitarian missions.[51]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Marcin, Gary (1998). "The Taliban". King's College. Retrieved 26 September 2011. 
  2. ^ "FACTBOX: Five Facts on Taliban Leader Mullah Mohammad Omar". Nov 17, 2008. Retrieved 2014-09-29. 
  3. ^ "Kabul". Retrieved September 2014. "Mullah Omar only visited Kabul once, and Afghanistan’s capital effectively returned to Kandahar."
  4. ^ "Role of the Taliban’s religious police". 27 April 2013. Retrieved 2014-09-29. 
  5. ^ Deobandi Islam: The Religion of the Taliban U. S. Navy Chaplain Corps, 15 October 2001
  6. ^ Directorate of Intelligence (2001). "CIA -- The World Factbook -- Afghanistan" (mirror). Retrieved 2008-03-07. note - the self-proclaimed Taliban government refers to the country as Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan 
  7. ^ Map of areas controlled in Afghanistan '96
  8. ^ Rashid, Taliban (2000)
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^"Most recently, they had the protection of their fellow ethnic Pashtuns, the Taliban, who looted and torched Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara communities"
  12. ^ "They described the Hazara, Tajiks, Uzbeks and the Kizilbash (Turkmens) as non-Afghan people and believed that those people had immigrated to the country from Tajikistan,(Turkmenistan), Uzbekistan and Iran."
  13. ^"During the first day they indiscriminately killed any one they saw, from Tajik Uzbek and Hazara ethnic groups but after that they started killing specifically Hazaras"
  14. ^ Genocide, Ethnonationalism, and the United Nations: Exploring the Causes of Mass Killing Since 1945 by Hannibal Travis,pg.115 "The massacres in Mazar-i-Sharif alone in 1998 claimed 8,000-10,000 lives "
  15. ^ Afghanistan, Opium and the Taliban
  16. ^ Terrorism and Global Disorder - Adrian Guelke - Google Libros. Retrieved 2012-08-15. 
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ <
  21. ^
  22. ^ Luke Harding (2001-03-03). "How the Buddha got his wounds". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-08-27. 
  23. ^ "Over World Protests, Taliban Are Destroying Ancient Buddhas". 4 March 2001. Retrieved 2015. 
  24. ^ "Bamiyan statues: World reaction". 5 March 2001. Retrieved 2015. 
  25. ^,4411307&dq=un+sanctions+afghanistan&hl=en
  26. ^ "U.N. Reconciles itself to Five Members of Mulla Omar's Cabinet"
  27. ^ [1][dead link]
  28. ^ The Guardian, Taliban lose grip on Mazar i Sharif, November 7, 2001
  29. ^ York, Geoffrey. Globe and Mail, "Military Targets Are Elusive. Afghanistan Army Called a Haphazard Operation", September 19, 2001
  30. ^ a b Jane's Sentinel Security Assessment, 2001
  31. ^ Dixon, Robyn (13 October 2001). "Afghans in Kabul Flee Taliban, Not U.S. Raids". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  32. ^ Marsden, Peter (1998). The Taliban: war, religion and the new order in Afghanistan. Zed Books. p. 51. ISBN 978-1-85649-522-6. 
  33. ^ Lansford, Tom (2011). 9/11 and the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq: A Chronology and Reference Guide. ABC-CLIO. p. 147. ISBN 978-1-59884-419-1. 
  34. ^ a b Pugh, Michael C.; Neil Cooper Jonathan Goodhand (2004). War Economies in a Regional Context: Challenges of Transformation. Lynne Rienner. p. 48. ISBN 978-1-58826-211-0. 
  35. ^ Castillo, Graciana del (2008). Rebuilding War-Torn States: The Challenge of Post-Conflict Economic Reconstruction. Oxford University Press. p. 167. ISBN 978-0-19-923773-9. 
  36. ^ Skaine, Rosemarie (2009). Women of Afghanistan in the Post-Taliban Era: How Lives Have Changed and Where They Stand Today. McFarland. p. 57. ISBN 978-0-7864-3792-4. 
  37. ^ Skaine, Rosemarie (2009). Women of Afghanistan in the Post-Taliban Era: How Lives Have Changed and Where They Stand Today. McFarland. p. 58. ISBN 978-0-7864-3792-4. 
  38. ^ Nojum, Neamatollah (2002). The Rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan: Mass Mobilization, Civil War and the Future of the Region. St Martin's Press. p. 178. ISBN 978-0-312-29584-4. 
  39. ^ Nojum, Neamatollah (2002). The Rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan: Mass Mobilization, Civil War and the Future of the Region. St Martin's Press. p. 186. ISBN 978-0-312-29584-4. 
  40. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Chouvy, Pierre-Arnaud (2010). Opium: uncovering the politics of the poppy. Harvard University Press. pp. 52ff. 
  41. ^ Shaffer, Brenda (2006). The limits of culture: Islam and foreign policy. MIT Press. p. 283. ISBN 978-0-262-69321-9. 
  42. ^ Thourni, Francisco E. (2006). Frank Bovenkerk, ed. The Organized Crime Community: Essays in Honor of Alan A. Block. Springer. p. 130. ISBN 978-0-387-39019-2. 
  43. ^ Lyman, Michael D. (2010). Drugs in Society: Causes, Concepts and Control. Elsevier. p. 309. ISBN 978-1-4377-4450-7. 
  44. ^ Griffin, Michael (2000). Reaping the whirlwind: the Taliban movement in Afghanistan. Pluto Press. p. 147. ISBN 978-0-7453-1274-3. 
  45. ^ Wehr, Kevin (2011). Green Culture: An A-to-Z Guide. Sage. p. 223. ISBN 978-1-4129-9693-8. 
  46. ^ Rashid, Ahmed (2002). Taliban: Islam, oil and the new great game in central Asia. I.B.Tauris. p. 187. ISBN 978-1-86064-830-4. 
  47. ^ Clements, Frank (2003). Conflict in Afghanistan: a historical encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 148. ISBN 978-1-85109-402-8. 
  48. ^ Bennett, Adam (2005). Reconstructing Afghanistan (illustrated ed.). International Monetary Fund. p. 29. ISBN 978-1-58906-324-2. 
  49. ^ Farah, Douglas; Stephen Braun (2008). Merchant of Death: Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible. Wiley. p. 146. ISBN 978-0-470-26196-5. 
  50. ^ Askari, Hossein (2003). Economic sanctions: examining their philosophy and efficacy. Potomac. p. 56. ISBN 978-1-56720-542-8. 
  51. ^ Pillar, Paul R. (2003). Terrorism and U.S. foreign policy. Brookings Institution. p. 77. ISBN 978-0-8157-7077-0. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Islamic State of Afghanistan
Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
1996 – 2001
Succeeded by
Afghan Interim Administration

Coordinates: 33°56′N 66°11′E / 33.933°N 66.183°E / 33.933; 66.183