طالبان (ṭālibān)
Governing bodyLeadership Council
Dates of operation
HeadquartersKandahar (1994–2001; 2021–present)
Active regionsAfghanistan
SizeCore strength -
  • 45,000 (2001 est.)[13]
  • 11,000 (2008 est.)[14]
  • 36,000 (2010 est.)[15]
  • 60,000 (2014 est.)[16]
  • 60,000[17] (2017 est. excluding 90,000 local militia and 50,000 support elements)
  • 75,000 (2021 est.)[18][19][20]
State allies
Non-state allies
OpponentsState and intergovernmental opponents
Non-state opponents
Battles and wars
Designated as a terrorist group by United Nations[62]
 United Arab Emirates[69][70]

The Taliban (/ˈtælɪbæn, ˈtɑːlɪbɑːn/; Pashto: طالبان, romanized: ṭālibān, lit.'students' or 'seekers'), which also refers to itself by the name of its state, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,[76][77][a] is a Deobandi Islamic fundamentalist, militant Islamist, and jihadist political movement in Afghanistan.[80] It ruled approximately three-quarters of the country from 1996–2001, before being overthrown following the United States invasion. It recaptured Kabul on 15 August 2021 after years of insurgency, and currently controls all of the country.

The Taliban emerged in 1994 as one of the prominent factions in the Afghan Civil War and largely consisted of students (ṭālib) from the Pashtun areas of eastern and southern Afghanistan who had been educated in traditional Islamic schools (madāris). Under the leadership of Mohammed Omar Mujahid (r. 1996–2001), the movement spread throughout most of Afghanistan, shifting power away from the Mujahideen warlords. In 1996, the group administered roughly three-quarters of the country, and established the First Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, with the Afghan capital transferred to Kandahar from Kabul. The Taliban's government was opposed by the Northern Alliance militia, which seized parts of northeast Afghanistan and largely maintained international recognition as a continuation of the interim Islamic State of Afghanistan. The Taliban held control of most of the country until being overthrown after the United States invasion of Afghanistan in December 2001. Subsequently, the Taliban launched an insurgency to fight the United States–backed Karzai administration and the NATO–led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in the War in Afghanistan.

The mass persecutions of Taliban members left the group weakened and many ultimately fled to neighboring Pakistan. In May 2002, exiled members formed the Council of Leaders (Rahbarī Shūrā) based in the city of Quetta. They soon gained strength in the country and reportedly galvanized support from the Government of Pakistan. In 2012, the Taliban unofficially established a political office in Qatar. Under Hìbatullah Akhundzada's leadership, in May 2021, the Taliban began a military offensive, and soon seized control of several areas from the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Following the Fall of Kabul on 15 August 2021, the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan and established the Islamic Emirate once again.

During their rule from 1996 to 2001, the Taliban enforced a strict interpretation of Sharia, or Islamic law,[81] and were widely condemned for massacres against Afghan civilians, harsh discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities, denial of UN food supplies to starving civilians, destruction of cultural monuments, banning of females from school and most employment, and prohibition of most music. Following their return to power in 2021, the Afghanistan government budget has lost 80% of its funding, food insecurity is widespread and Taliban leaders urged the United States and other countries to recognize its régime.[82] The Taliban returned Afghanistan to many policies implemented under its previous rule, including requiring women to wear head-to-toe coverings such as the burqa, blocking women from travelling without male guardians, and preventing women from attending school past 6th grade.[83][84][85]

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