Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia

Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia

4.1 25
by Ahmed Rashid

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ISBN-10: 0300089023

ISBN-13: 9780300089028

Pub. Date: 02/28/2001

Publisher: Yale University Press

Shrouding themselves and their aims in deepest secrecy, the leaders of the Taliban movement control Afghanistan with an inflexible, crushing fundamentalism. The most extreme and radical of all Islamic organizations, the Taliban inspires fascination, controversy, and especially fear in both the Muslim world and the West. Correspondent Ahmed Rashid brings the shadowy


Shrouding themselves and their aims in deepest secrecy, the leaders of the Taliban movement control Afghanistan with an inflexible, crushing fundamentalism. The most extreme and radical of all Islamic organizations, the Taliban inspires fascination, controversy, and especially fear in both the Muslim world and the West. Correspondent Ahmed Rashid brings the shadowy world of the Taliban into sharp focus in this enormously interesting and revealing book. It is the only authoritative account of the Taliban and modern day Afghanistan available to English language readers.

Based on his experiences as a journalist covering the civil war in Afghanistan for twenty years, traveling and living with the Taliban, and interviewing most of the Taliban leaders since their emergence to power in 1994, Rashid offers unparalleled firsthand information. He explains how the growth of Taliban power has already created severe instability in Russia, Iran, Pakistan, and five Central Asian republics. He describes the Taliban’s role as a major player in a new “Great Game”—a competition among Western countries and companies to build oil and gas pipelines from Central Asia to Western and Asian markets. The author also discusses the controversial changes in American attitudes toward the Taliban—from early support to recent bombings of Osama Bin Laden’s hideaway and other Taliban-protected terrorist bases—and how they have influenced the stability of the region.

Product Details

Yale University Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.75(h) x (d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgementsvii
Introduction: Afghanistan's Holy Warriors1
Part 1History of the Taliban Movement
Chapter 1Kandahar 1994: The Origins of the Taliban17
Chapter 2Herat 1995: God's Invincible Soldiers31
Chapter 3Kabul 1996: Commander of the Faithful41
Chapter 4Mazar-e-Sharif 1997: Massacre in the North55
Chapter 5Bamiyan 1998-99: The Never-Ending War67
Part 2Islam and the Taliban
Chapter 6Challenging Islam: The New-Style Fundamentalism of the Taliban82
Chapter 7Secret Society: The Taliban's Political and Military Organization95
Chapter 8A Vanished Gender: Women, Children and Taliban Culture105
Chapter 9High on Heroin: Drugs and the Taliban Economy117
Chapter 10Global Jihad: The Arab-Afghans and Osama Bin Laden128
Part 3The New Great Game
Chapter 11Dictators and Oil Barons: The Taliban and Central Asia, Russia, Turkey and Israel143
Chapter 12Romancing the Taliban 1: The Battle for Pipelines 1994-96157
Chapter 13Romancing the Taliban 2: The Battle for Pipelines 1997-99--The USA and the Taliban170
Chapter 14Master or Victim: Pakistan's Afghan War183
Chapter 15Shia and Sunni: Iran and Saudi Arabia196
Chapter 16Conclusion: The Future of Afghanistan207

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Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia, Second Edition 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
JayHay More than 1 year ago
This book offers a rare look inside the groups and personalities of Afghanistan's influential diaspora. While the Taliban is the focus of the book I enjoy Rashid's inclusion of all the groups that have shaped Afghanistan's recent history. The Pashtun tribes are the obvious focus of most Afghan books but he does an excellent job of integrating the Uzebk, Tajik and Hazara perspectives in Afghan politics. The vignettes of the brutality with which not just the Taliban but the other ethnic groups conducted operations against each other gives us the perspective that some militants are irreconcilable. But Rashid leaves open the possibility that the majority of the tribesmen may be amenable to a tepid peace. His exploration of all of the ethnic groups reveals an entrenched sense perpetual conflict, I think the challenge is translating their tendency for violent conflict into non-violent conflict. Overall a very well-written book; the second edition is an added treat with the inclusion of his perspectives on new developments. I would definitely recommend this book for anyone interested in historical Afghan tribal relations, specifically in the years after the Soviet withdrawal up until 11 September 2001.
BenderHeel More than 1 year ago
I just finished Ahmed Rashid's book and was blown away by it. Excellent writing with a thorough look into the world of the Taliban and the various politics and relationships involved in the Taliban's rise to power. Some of the information will make you cringe when reading it with the hindsight of the events that have unfolded in the region since Rashid wrote this in 1999, although it is still as influential today -- perhaps even moreso -- as the United States finally puts a full-court effort into the region to stablize it. Also, I'm not sure how any of the past reviewers can critize the book for being difficult to read because of the foreign names and locales, as obviously that kind of information cannot be held against the author. I thought that the writing was great and flowed like a good narrative story. Further, when Rashid referred to the characters or places, he would provide the context so that the reader can recall who/what he is referring to. Finally, there are some very interesting and insightful appendices cataloging the leadership of the Taliban and just how uneducated and ignorant they are/were, as well as some of the laws that they passed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I chose this book after the Sept. 11 attacks to do as my nonfiction book report. The book was useful because it gave me the whole understanding of the enviroment in which the Taliban came to power. Some parts are a little bit confusing because there are so many places, people and tribes. I would recommend this book for book reports or everyday reading.
niafong More than 1 year ago
Ahmad Rashid masterful book on the Taliban has been totally correct, as his brilliant analysis of the "New Great Game" has showed remarkable accuracy as Russia and Iran and Qatar are now a new OPEC to compete against the traditional Arabic-dominated Opec and this triumvirate is becoming a power to reckon with. Also, China, another growing power is showing interest is watching the development of the Caucus Central Asian Republics and teamed up with many of them to become allies in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and America as usual is showing its toughness and dynamism and almost became smitten with the Taliban, after all they are natural ideological allies... both are highly nationalistic, religious, and conservative and influential. However, America took up the friendship of Turkey instead. India, an independent power, still relies much on Russia, but less and less every year and America is showed a friendship with Pakistan to offset the special relationship between Russia and India. Then there is the issue of radical Islam, a separate power unto itself. And Afghanistan has still shown that all these powers have interest by all these powers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book reveals what this organization is all about --- from activities planning to membership hierarchy. The descriptions throughout the book detail what we have seen in news reports concerning the Taliban. However, while the media has failed to disclose the enormity of the horrendous nature of the Taliban, the author tells all. From senseless executions to ridiculous business demands, it¿s all here. The book is a somewhat difficult read, due to the many references to Middle Eastern names and terms, etc., but the information provided is well worth it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am currently deployed conducting combat operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. I bought this book in order to gain insight into the the history of Afghanistan and how the Taliban came to power. This book has provided myself, and numerous personnel within my unit, with a better understanding of the 'enemy.' History tends to repeat itself and Rashid's unbiased account of the group's history has aided us in developing a better understanding of the current situation on the battlefield. Would recommend this book to all warfighters.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In an era where mainstream media is becoming increasingly entertainment-based, it's encouraging to see a book that seeks not to entertain, but to educate. That's not to say, however, that the book is boring; it is thorougly engaging and will give the reader plenty to ponder. Every American should read this book to gain a better understanding of what is occurring in the world right now.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mr. Rashid has written a valuable history lesson concerning Afghanistan and the surrounding countries playing a role in the problems of current Central Asia. All the players are carefully analyzed as to motivation and intent. The happenings in this area of the world from ancient times up to (but not including) the attack on America is reviewed in great detail. Rashid is obviously a knowledgeable man with terrific insight into this area of the world and his powerful book should be read by every American who wants to better understand the issues and movements leading up to Sept. 11 2001. Again, every American should read this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mr. Rashid has done a superb job of bringing the history of Afganistan, Pakistan, the Central Asian Republics and the rest of the world to life. I found his book spellbinding because of the events going on now and also his clear style. He does not talk down to his reader. He expects us to follow along closely. He describes the history and thought processes in several different ways. Economic, cultural, military and diplomatic histories are laid down, one after another. Any one of them was a great learning experience. All of them together weaves a complex web. There is no single clear answer at the end but there ARE many partial answers that will be much better than hoping the Taliban will go away by themselves. There is no nation that has done great things for Afganistan. But there is certainly some groups within nations who have done really terrible things to the Afgan people. Some of those groups are outside Afganistan but not many. Most of the really terrible things have been done, can only be done by those on the ground in the country. Mr. Rashid is probably not well-liked in several countries of the world right now. But one of my strongest compliments was that I could not tell what his own religion was from his book. Mr. Rashid has done the world a great favor with his first-hand accounts. I pray we read his book and do what we need to stop the evil and keep the good, ordinary people growing in that region of the world. I am buying copies of the book for my friends and co-workers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Rashid's insightful study of Afghanistan's Taliban regime bases his account on detailed reporting and travel throughout Afghanistan and interviews conducted with many of the Taliban' s elusive leaders. As a narrative, it is gripping and well researched reporting that provides a glimpse at a secretive society.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is banned in Central Asia because of the author’s criticism of various regimes in that region of the world. First published in 2000, it gained greater significance after September 11th because of the connection of Al Qaeda and the Taliban. The second edition is reviewed. It covers the period of 2000 to 2009. The book begins with a detailed history of the Taliban movement. The Taliban fought the Soviets in Afghanistan. They were the latest in a long line of warriors in that region. Included in the Taliban were Pashtun nationals. The author explains how the Pashtun’s developed as fighters. They have a long history of fighting and helped develop the state of Afghanistan. Islam has historically been the unifying spirit of Afghanistan’s diverse peoples. The theme of the second part of the book is how Islam and the Taliban connected. Traditionally Islam has been a tolerant religion. But in 1992 the civil war in Afghanistan was characterized by brutality as various religious sects fought each other. The author explains the complex issues and events that tore the country asunder. He specifically covers how the Taliban began as an Islamic reform movement then became the extremists behind the bloodshed. Today the oil companies compete in Central Asia in what the author calls “The New Great Game.” The game is between expanding and contracting empires as Russia, Turkey and Pakistan build oil pipelines. China too has an interest in the area because it has Muslim ethnic groups related to peoples in Central Asia. In this book a large swath of history is looked at in order to explain the often complex and convoluted issues that have characterized Central Asia for many decades. The Soviet era is discussed in detail because it was formative to the issues still prevalent there today. The conclusion of the book begins with a statement that Afghanistan as a viable state has ceased to exist. The country has reverted to a tribal mentality. The Taliban is behind this sectarianism and ethnic cleansing. The author blames the outside powers for the destruction of Afghanistan. As well he condemns the Taliban’s negative interpretation of Islam. He says the Taliban refuse to define the Afghan state because they have no idea about what they want. So the country subsists on smuggling and drug trafficking. Now we have Al Qaeda militants in the country and the current Karzai government unable to rule. The Taliban are their protectors. The big question is: will any US troops remain in Afghanistan to fight Al Qaeda after 2014? This book is a useful resource for anyone who has an interest in the answer to that question.
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