In the Middle East, there are many dimensions, including internal and external factors. Internal dimension may include relations between states and also between ethnic and ideological differences. For example, in Iraq there are nationalistic separations between the Arabs and the Kurds, and also ideological differences between the Shi’as and Sunnis. Furthermore, the tension between the Israeli and the Palestinian territories, as well as tension between the Iran and Arab worlds, have a lot to do with ideological and nationalistic conflicts. One major issue in the Middle East is the topic of who is actually the leader in the Arab world. Many leaders in this world have been over ambitious in the sense that they think they deserve to rule the entire region. There are different ethnic groups who fight for this title, including the tribal groups and muslim leaders. Territorial conflicts create another issue in the Middle Eastern region which has turned the Arabs against non-Arab groups such as the Turks, Kurds, and Persians. This could potential be a weakness within the region that external interests could exploit.
Rise of the Taliban From 1996 to 2001, the group that ruled Afghanistan was called the Taliban. This was a Sunni Islamic fundamentalist group that provided refuge to al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden which led to the U.S. invasion that toppled the regime. After this event, the Taliban relocated just across the border in Pakistan where its main leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar operates an uprising and undercover government whose primary goal is to undermine the government in Kabul. Since, 2012 the United States and Afghanistan have negotiated a settlement with the Taliban. The plan is to withdraw international troops by the end of 2014, but analysts say this is unlikely. Pashtun faction of mujahideen, Islamic fighters who resisted the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989, formed the Taliban in the early 1990’s. This group had the backing of the United States CIA and the Pakistani ISI. This group widened by the joining Pashtun tribesmen who studied in the Pakistani seminaries, like the mujahideen had. In Pashto, taliban means students. Pashtuns are an ethnic group in Afghanistan that occupies much of the country’s east and south territory. In 1989, the Soviet Union left Afghanistan. From 1987 to 1992, the president of Afghanistan was a Soviet client named Mohammad Najibullah. Around the time that there were conflicts in ethnic groups and a civil war was taking place, Mohammad Najibullah resigned. Soon after, Burhanuddin Rabbani, a Tajik mujahideen leader, took control as president as mujahideen parties competed for control of Kabul. During this period, the Taliban came together promising the people of Afghanistan, stability and law. The Taliban drew ideology from Deobandi interpretations of Sharia and Pashtunwali, which is the Pashtuns, pre-Islamic tribal code. The Taliban began imposing new laws across the entire nation which included punishments like beating, amputation, and execution. This seemed to deepen the ethnic division across the nation. In November of 1994, the Taliban took the city of Kandahar, and in September of 1996, took control of Kabul. In doing so, it kicked out the Rabbani government and attacked the compound where Najibullah was hiding. They tortured and killed him. Analysts say that the Taliban controlled approximately 90 percent of the country before the 2001 overthrow by U.S. led forces. Gilles Kepel, a scholar of political Islam, says the the Taliban was an “oxymoron of an Islamist state.”