ANALYSIS: The Taliban’s First Steps To Confiscate Weapons Are Within The Authoritarian Handbook

(Photo by WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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In an effort to consolidate power, the Taliban are confiscating all weapons and ammunition from civilian Afghans.

“We understand people kept weapons for personal safety. They can now feel safe,” a Taliban official told Reuters. “We are not here to harm innocent civilians.”

The confiscation of weapons is part of a string of authoritarian tactics deployed by the militant group since coming to power. Residents of Kabul have reported that the Islamists are going door to door searching for Afghans who collaborated with the U.S. military during America’s two-decade-long presence in the country.

The Taliban have tried to present a more moderate face in their second turn at the helm of Afghanistan. They promised amnesty to those that worked against them, and offered to welcome women into seats of government power. (RELATED: ANALYSIS: The Taliban Has One Simple Reason For Pretending Its Reign Will Be ‘Inclusive’)

The reality of their rule has been quite different. Within a matter of days, there have been reports of violence, including a woman being shot to death for not wearing a burqa, the execution of family members of American allies and beating and harassment of evacuees. Afghan Christians are trying to flee persecution and murder, and the Taliban has told women to stay home because its soldiers haven’t been trained to treat them like human beings.

This level of oppression would undoubtedly be more difficult if the fighters were facing an armed populace. Some protests have sprouted up, only to be violently put down by the oppressors. Some resistance is forming in the Panjshir province in the northeastern part of the country, but it faces long odds of success. There’s a reason the Russian government has acknowledged that there is no alternative to the Taliban anymore. (RELATED: ‘Sharia Law And That Is It’: Taliban Commander Says Afghanistan To Have ‘No Democratic System At All’)

It isn’t a coincidence that the Taliban’s blueprint for iron rule involves confiscating weapons. The Nazis disarmed German Jews over the course of the 1930s, leaving them vulnerable when the Holocaust commenced in 1939. For the most part, where there was resistance, there were guns. For example, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising managed to fend off the Nazis for about a month due to arms.

Mao Zedong introduced gun control to China in 1966, and today the Chinese Communist Party enforces some of the strictest gun control measures in the world. The Soviet Union outlawed gun ownership for anyone who wasn’t a member of the communist party in 1918.

The Taliban are now following in those totalitarian footsteps. They can more easily carry out their modern-day reign of terror when the journalists they round up and protestors they execute have no means of fighting back.