Afghanistan’s Taliban are back in power. How did they get there? How can their discriminatory policies be explained? And what can be done about it? The article looks back at the failure of international engagement in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2021 and the dynamics that enabled the Taliban to reemerge. Having gained control of the country again in August 2021, the article unpacks the way they govern and control populations, how decisions are made within the divided movement, and how its highly oppressive policies have developed. The article concludes by looking at the Taliban’s approach toward the international community and the resulting limited pathways for constructive engagement.

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