With their newly established power in Afghanistan, the Taliban are already starting to hint at what life may be like for millions of Afghans who will not leave the country.
Current leaders are making claims that they will offer amnesty to those who worked for the previous government and supported the American occupancy. They're also claiming there will be no violence against women under Islamic law.
“In general, this is all part of the, I think, Taliban’s efforts to really consolidate control, and that includes, I think, probably being less brutal and less authoritarian than they were during that 1996 to 2001 period, at least initially,” said William Nomikos, Ph.D., an assistant professor of political science at Washington University in St. Louis.
Nomikos sees the Taliban's immediate claims as strategic. He believes the group will likely want to consolidate its gains and establish military power, and then things could change.
This is not the same Taliban that was in power more than 20 years ago, which was easily defeated when the U.S. invaded.
“One can certainly envision a Taliban regime that is, as we said, more diplomatically sophisticated, it seeks to establish friendly relations with adversaries of the United States, including Russia and China,” said Nomikos.
Although again, Nomikos thinks, for now, the Taliban will remain fairly isolated, focused more on internal policies.
One concern with their territorial control in Afghanistan is possible terrorist safe-havens, a place where groups like Al-Qaeda will be allowed to freely operate.
But Nomikos points out that terrorist groups have also changed their strategies over the last 20 years and don't necessarily need government sponsoring.
“You don't really need to have large warehouses to store things. You can recruit digitally. There's a lot of, you know, recruitment that occurs now on even open social media platforms, much less, you know, the dark corners of the Internet,” said Nomikos.
Meanwhile, major social media platforms will continue to label the Taliban as a terrorist organization as it's recognized by U.S. law. That means pictures, videos, and posts promoting the group will be removed.