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The Taliban Revival [Kindle Edition]

Hassan Abbas
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

In autumn 2001, U.S. and NATO troops were deployed to Afghanistan to unseat the Taliban rulers, repressive Islamic fundamentalists who had lent active support to Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda jihadists. The NATO forces defeated and dismantled the Taliban government, scattering its remnants across the country. But despite a more than decade-long attempt to eradicate them, the Taliban endured—regrouping and reestablishing themselves as a significant insurgent movement. Gradually they have regained control of large portions of Afghanistan even as U.S. troops are preparing to depart from the region.
 
In his authoritative and highly readable account, author Hassan Abbas examines how the Taliban not only survived but adapted to their situation in order to regain power and political advantage. Abbas traces the roots of religious extremism in the area and analyzes the Taliban’s support base within Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas. In addition, he explores the roles that Western policies and military decision making—not to mention corruption and incompetence in Kabul—have played in enabling the Taliban’s return to power.

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Review

'In this highly readable new book, Hassan Abbas offers a detailed examination of how and why the Taliban not only survived, but were able to regain power and advantage...Abbas' account is both nuanced and highly knowledgeable, reflecting his experiences as a young police officer in the Pashtun areas through the lens of an experienced academic.'-Christina Hellmich, Times Higher Education Supplement -- Christina Hellmich THES 'Hassan Abbas is one of the world's leading experts on the militant groups of South Asia. In The Taliban Revival he charts the resurgence of the Taliban on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The book is well written, deeply researched, analytically sharp and is an important contribution to our understanding of the Taliban.' - Peter Bergen, author of Manhunt: From 9/11 to Abbottabad - The Ten-Year Search for Osama bin Laden -- Peter Bergen 'In The Taliban Revival, he offers rational explanations for their having fought against the British, the Soviets and the Americas: the Pashtuns have a culture of resisting invaders, he writes, because they have always lived on the edge of other people's empires and so have been invaded with remarkable frequency.'-Owen Bennett-Jones, London Review of Books -- Owen Bennett-Jones London Review of Books "Abbas's clear prose, access to many Pakistani officials, and academic perspective decode the contending players and passions. As a non-expert, I found this book informative and highly readable."-Frank Hoffman, War on the Rocks -- Frank Hoffman War on the Rocks "A limpid account of the tortured relations between President George W. Bush and President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan in the aftermath of the 9/11 suicide attacks and the ousting of Mullah Omar's Taliban regime in Kabul. It is a catalogue of missed chances, deception and self-deception."-Robert Fox, The World Today -- Robert Fox The World Today "Hassan Abbas was born in Pakistan and spent time as a police officer in Pakistan's tribal areas before he left for the United States and a career in academia. He is familiar with the local culture and the perceptions of it held by those in Washington, where he teaches, all of which makes him unique among commentators on the area."-Greg Waldmann, Open Letters Monthly -- Greg Waldmann Open Letters Monthly "Important reading for students of geopolitics and Central Asian affairs."-Kirkus Reviews Kirkus Reviews 'A comprehensive, wise, and highly readable assessment of how mistaken policy choices have led to the revival of the Taliban. Hassan Abbas, one of the world's leading experts on the region, shows how regional powers, donor nations, and NATO have pursued their own narrow, short-term interests in the region, often to the detriment of the Afghan people. The result is that Afghanistan still lacks the schools and law-enforcement personnel that are required to fight the distorted version of Islam, and the crime, that the Taliban spreads. Anyone interested in the Taliban and south-west Asia will be saddened, fascinated, and instructed.' - Jessica Stern, author of Terror in the Name of God: Why Religios Militants Kill -- Jessica Stern "Well-written and comprehensive."-Douglas Ollivant, Foreign Policy South Asia Channel -- Douglas Ollivant Foreign Policy South Asia Channel "Abbas' clear and convincing analysis ... shows how the Afghan Taliban differ from Taliban groups based in Pakistan and how all those groups fit into the not-so-Great Game played by India, Pakistan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia ... Thoughtful and well-written."-Foreign Affairs Foreign Affairs

About the Author

Hassan Abbas is professor and chair of the department of regional and analytical atudies at National Defense University's College of International Security Affairs in Washington, D.C.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1745 KB
  • Print Length: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (24 Jun. 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00K1FXOMK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #558,701 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars How the Frontier was lost 18 Jun. 2014
By Hande Z TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
The Talibans, Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, are names we read and hear in news media every day, but what do we really know about them other than the impression that they are Islamic terrorists? Hassan Abbas grew up and was educated in Peshawar. He spent some years as a senior police commander in the hot frontier of Pashtun territory before he turned to the academic life in Washington DC. His book provides a history of the Talibans; a history that connects Britain, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, and the USA. He gave a detailed account of the Taliban's rise in the 1990's, its dispersion after the American 'war on terror' after September 11 in 2001, and how and why the Talibans are coming back.

This is an illuminating work that explains which tribe in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border is fighting which - and why they are fighting. It explains the role and reception of Al-Qaeda in the Afghanistan history. He also explains with great clarity the cultural habits and attitudes of the tribal people in that region. Without an understanding of their history and culture it will be difficult to have any effective engagement with the main parties there and hope that peace can result.

The problem with understanding Pashtun culture and attitude is that they are full of nuances. Hassan explains these nuances with the insight and experience of having lived there among them. Do we even think that the Talibans do not watch Hollywood movies and how such a seemingly innocuous omission could have serious practical consequences? Hassan retells a story (that now, removed from time and space, seems comic): A Taliban raided a village home searching for their North-Western rivals, saw a poster of Sylvester Stallone in his 'Rambo' gear.
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A relatively general understanding of the topic at hand 29 Aug. 2014
By DF - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I would recommend this book to a person who hasn't invested a serious effort into learning about the war in Afghanistan/Pakistan, the Taliban, Pakistani politics, and a history of pre 9/11 Afghanistan. The reader will walk away with a decent understanding of Afghanistan's recent history, key events, key personalities, fundamental and long term challenges to Afghanistan's stability and progress, he character of the Taliban insurgency, and some drivers of conflict.

The proper way to learn history is read multiple books by different authors on the same topics. This book will definitely come off as superficial to people who have invested a serious effort into learning about this war and who have read other publications on the topics. Many people who will likely browse this page will already be familiar with the excellent books "Taliban" by Ahmed Rashid, and Inside Al Qaeda and the Taliban by Saleem Shazad. With regards to the rise of the Taliban during the 90's, the greater scope of international and regional competition in Afghanistan, the history of IGO/NGO aid and relations in the country, this book is not even close to the level of detail, facts, and investigative quality in Ahmed Rashid's book. I very strongly disagree with another reviewer's claim that this book shed light on Al Qaeda's role in shaping Afghanistan's and Pakistan's recent history. There is, at best, a page's worth of information on Al Qaeda, and it is not that much more information than what even the most casual of news followers or readers will have already known. Saleem Shazad's book is an extremely good read on this specific topic, and while Taliban Revival at least discusses some 90's Taliban history relative to Rashid's book, Shazad's book reveals that Abbas doesn't even touch the tip of the iceberg in terms of Al Qaeda's post 9/11 role in Afghanistan/Pakistani history and conflict.

I am also aware of the rise of the Taliban from 2006-2009 and the American surge that was meant to regain the initiative and put Afghanistan on a positive trajectory. While Abbas does justice to Stanley McChrystal's historical Initial Commander's Assessment, the reader will not really get an idea of just how bad things got in Afghanistan or just how much of the country the Taliban was able to control or influence. In terms of the gains made by the surge, the author has a single line that addresses that progress. I feel the author did a great job in discussion Pakistan's conflicts, ceasefires, and increasingly violent trends, but Afghanistan wise in terms of the Taliban's rise and the American surge, arguably the most decisive part of the war, I felt it was lacking tremendously.

The book's best chapter is the drivers of conflict chapter, that discusses Afghanistan's greater economic issues and challenges to implementing legitimate and effective governance. This is information that is usually not discussed in more mainstream accounts or narratives in understanding Afghanistan's long term issues. However in terms of security the author makes a fatal flaw by listing spectacular attacks conducted by the Taliban as evidence of their success. In counterinsurgency wars, or history in a greater sense, listing individual tactical events doesn't necessarily translate into a trend at the aggregate level, even if the list appears to be long. In fact, the author has done just what the Taliban would have wanted to him have done. High profile attacks are meant to indicate relevance, but on a strategic level don't mean as much. The primary metric for success in counterinsurgency/insurgency is the degree of control to which a party has over a territory in order to administrate it and the degree to which it can effectively secure the compliance of its constituents within that territory. Just because the Taliban can launch a well coordinated shooting ambush or suicide attack in Kabul doesn't mean they are able to challenge the Afghan government's ability to retain its monopoly on the use of force in Kabul itself 24/7. That particular metric is hard to find in detail, but the overwhelming trend is that ISAF and the GIROA were seizing and consistently administering territory from 2010 onwards, territory that had been lost before as the Taliban were resurgent from 2006-2009.

This book also suffers a lot from having many sentences that are in the form of conclusions and declarations. One way to put it is that in many paragraphs in this book there is more "telling" than "showing", something that the more academically and scholarly oriented reader will find repeatedly disappointing.

Bottom line, a good book for the generalist or for those who have never read deeply into these topics, but for those with experience with other publications on these topics, it may fill in some gaps in knowledge but won't be the most significant learning experience.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recent History of Pakistan and Afghanistan Taliban with personal notes 14 Aug. 2014
By gt surber - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Review – The Taliban Revival by Hassan Abbas

“The Taliban Revival” by Hassan Abbas is a fascinating glimpse into the recent history of both Pakistan and Afghanistan and the resurgence of the Taliban in both countries in the last 3 – 4 years.

Mr. Abbas is a native of Pakistan, and while I did not catch his exact birthplace it is some where in the North end of Pakistan where as a young man he served in a local police force. Since then he has joined academia and journalism. This book is a distillation of his personal experiences on both sides of the Durand Line between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Many are the stories he tells of his experiences as a policeman in the area. Many are the stories he tells of his personal experiences in Pakistan. Most revealing is that one of his favorite memories is marching in the protest marches that surrounded Musharraf in 2008. From these we get the feel of the people themselves and the personalities involved. Many are the interviews quoted the Mr Abbas had with individuals of all stripes and power levels, mostly in Pakistan, but a few in Afghanistan.

Thus while this is a well documented recent history book, it is in many respects a primary source on the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In his conclusion Mr. Abbas states the reasons he feels that the Taliban have had a resurgence in the last 3 years. He also gives what he feels would be possible solutions to the issues in that area. These are well thought out and detailed. It would be a disservice to Mr. Abbas to quote those without the extensive background he supplies to support them.

The text of the book is only 60% of the book with extensive notes and index the remainder 40%.

The book reads well. Mr. Abbas's English is impeccable. The arguments are detailed and clear. At times I wish I knew more details to more accurately place his comments into the current course of events and cross check what he states. That is my problem, which I am working to resolve. But I have no reason to doubt his accuracy and fairness.

IMHO this is an excellent book detailing recent events in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It would not be ideal for a first time attempt to learn more of the the issues. But for the intermediate or advanced educated person is a good place to learn much more.
11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Moutain to Climb 22 Jun. 2014
By Hande Z - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The Talibans, Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, are names we read and hear in news media every day, but what do we really know about them other than the impression that they are Islamic terrorists? Hassan Abbas grew up and was educated in Peshawar. He spent some years as a senior police commander in the hot frontier of Pashtun territory before he turned to the academic life in Washington DC. His book provides a history of the Talibans; a history that connects Britain, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, and the USA. He gave a detailed account of the Taliban's rise in the 1990's, its dispersion after the American 'war on terror' after September 11 in 2001, and how and why the Talibans are coming back.

This is an illuminating work that explains which tribe in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border is fighting which - and why they are fighting. It explains the role and reception of Al-Qaeda in the Afghanistan history. He also explains with great clarity the cultural habits and attitudes of the tribal people in that region. Without an understanding of their history and culture it will be difficult to have any effective engagement with the main parties there and hope that peace can result.

The problem with understanding Pashtun culture and attitude is that they are full of nuances. Hassan explains these nuances with the insight and experience of having lived there among them. Do we even think that the Talibans do not watch Hollywood movies and how such a seemingly innocuous omission could have serious practical consequences? Hassan retells a story (that now, removed from time and space, seems comic): A Taliban raided a village home searching for their North-Western rivals, saw a poster of Sylvester Stallone in his 'Rambo' gear. He immediately ordered the occupant of the room to 'Tell your cousin that he must surrender his weapon'.

It may appear that even the CIA did not know enough about the Pashtuns and the Talibans (not the same) and that might have led to a great deal of wrong decisions being made leading to the American war in Afghanistan as well as decisions made in the war. Perhaps this book was published too late. Perhaps not. Readers hoping for a wider historical context might like to supplement their reading of this book with Peter Tomsen's 'The Wars of Afghanistan', published in 2011.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A National Security Treasure 10 Jan. 2015
By F. J. West - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A National Security Treasure

For those interested in security matters in Afghanistan and Pakistan - and that should include our Pentagon, State Department and White House - Dr. Abbas is a national security treasure. While I do not know him personally, his book about the Taliban revival is that rare combination of deep geopolitical expertise and clear English narrative. For the reader, he begins by posing a mystery: how could the Taliban, thoroughly defeated physically and psychologically in 2001, regain power and fight to a standstill in American military that invested hundreds of billions of dollars and 100,000 well-trained troops? Dr. Abbas then proceeds, chapter by chapter, to solve the mystery by educating the reader in the complicated post-1960s histories of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

This book is a credit to the National Defense University for employing Dr. Abbas and encouraging research and writing that positively contributes to a deeper understanding of a critical and complex subject. Yale University Press is also to be congratulated for editing and publishing a clear and expert contribution to our geopolitical knowledge.

- Bing West
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A different take on the subject! certainly a must buy! 30 Oct. 2014
By Aakash Tolani - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This one is different to what is usually out there! However, it is well argued, balanced and gives new dimensions to the subject. I for one, particularly enjoyed reading the book. Abbas adds humor in it, which lightens ones mood while reading on such a serious issue. The language and tone of book keeps the reader interested. Chapters are linked pretty well. One does not have to look back and forth to revise basics, as Abbas has given information on many sub-topics and critical issues repeatedly. This certainly gets the message to the reader loud and clear. I do not place this book in the 'Pakistan is perpetrator of all crimes' camp, nor do I put it in the "Pakistan is a victim from all corners" camp. From my own readings, I conclude it is a well-balanced account of things. The personal insights of the author are indeed thought provoking. I suggest if one is buying books authored by usual western names out there, this one ought to be bought to at least have another or rather Pakistani security (not defense!) personnel's perspective to the issue.
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