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clear CIAO Focus, March 2001: Afghanistan and the Taliban
With a series of victories in northern Afghanistan, the Taliban is pushing to become the only force with full control of the country in more than 20 years. Bred in the Islamic schools (madrasas) of Pakistan and Afghanistan , the Taliban movement emerged in response to the anarchy that prevailed in Afghanistan after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989 . Relying on strict tribal code, its version of Islamic law includes such punishments as stoning for adultery and amputation for burglary and has received harsh criticism from the international community. Only Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates formally recognize the Taliban; although others, notably France, have begun to open a dialogue. Russia and the United States continue to agree on isolating the Taliban movement. In Afghanistan, the Unity Party, sometimes known as the United Front, continues to fight against the Taliban and, often, against itself in regular internal struggles. The Taliban's capture of Kabul in 1996 increased the flight of the country's urban professionals, leaving the country bereft of highly skilled workers. Most fled to Pakistan, Iran or Central Asia. Pakistan is home to some 2 million Afghan refugees. Drawing much of its support from Pakistan, Afghanistan is the world's second largest producer of opium behind Myanmar and accounts for an estimated one third of the world's supply of heroin. Border clashes, human rights, narcotics trafficking, terrorist training and harboring, and the rekindling of ethnic and religious tensions throughout the region have led the world to focus on Afghanistan once again.

This month CIAO examines Afghanistan and the Taliban.

From CIAO's database:

Testimony on the Situation in Afghanistan, US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

The Afghan Conflict and Regional Security

Organised Crime and the Illegal Market in Weapons in Southern Asia

Remarks by H.E. Academician Talbak Nazarov

Russian-Iranian Relations in the 1990s

Outside Links*:

Reconstruction of the Official Website of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan

From the US Department of State

From Human Rights Watch

* Outside links are not maintained. For broken outside links, CIAO recommends the Way Back Machine [].