We have answered the question is it ethical to visit Afghanistan many times, including in our FAQ about travel to the country, which you can read here. But, things have obviously changed since the Taliban took control within the country.
What has changed in Afghanistan?
From 1996-2001 Afghanistan was ruled by the Taliban who invoked a particularly authoritarian version of fundamentalist Sunni Islam in the country. It was also a hotbed for Al Qaeda and where Osama Bin-Laden was living when 9-11 occurred.
To read about 9-11 click here
To sum things up, the United States invaded and a more western-oriented government came to power. To say this government were far from perfect would be a drastic understatement – corruption was rampant, drugs were rife and while a liberal middle class emerged, people were not overly happy.
The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
During the time of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (not the Taliban) there were less thoughts about the morality of going to Afghanistan, but more the safety, with the threat ironically being the Taliban.
This despite the fact that the country was far from working well. It was though at least a flawed democracy that had some veneer of women’s rights.
The rise of the Taliban
So, while the Taliban took control through armed means, they did so against a US-armed central government using state of the art weapons. And, sad as it is to admit, they had popular support. Quite simply you could not defeat the central government without it.
This means that for whatever we might think of the Taliban, many people in Afghanistan did and do support them.
Is it ethical to visit Afghanistan and have the Taliban changed?
The Taliban for their part claim that they are a changed regime and in many respects this is true. We have not seen the destruction of historical relics, women’s rights while drastically reduced are not nearly as bad as they were in 2001, nor even a smidgen as bad as the days of the Islamic State.
That is not to say that we in any way endorse them, but Afghanistan 2022 has much more in common with Saudi Arabia in 2001, that Taliban Afghanistan in 2001.
Whether this change is permanent or not is yet to be seen and there is a big undercurrent of extreme elements linked to both Al Qaeda and ISIS waiting in the wings. In essence the current Taliban are the lesser of a potentially much bigger evil.
To read about the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan click here .
So, is it ethical to travel to Afghanistan now the Taliban have taken over?
We as a company visit many countries that are considered controversial, such Syria, Iran and North Korea. We do this because we believe in positive engagement and people to people exchanges.
Thus when it comes to morals it is down to you to decide. I have at least one friend who has been to many risqué countries who deemed Afghanistan too far, so as with anything it is a moral decision.
To read about the Qatar World Cup click here.
There can though be a degree of hypocrisy when it comes to visiting such places, for example we did just hold a world cup in Qatar, host Grand Prixes in Bahrain and even military industrial complex arms fairs in Jordan.
To read about SOGEX click here
So, is it ethical to visit Afghanistan? We would answer yes, because those same people who benefited from tourism prior to the takeover are still living in the country. Of course things can and do change, and whether it remains an ethical place to travel is one of those things.
To read about Afghanistan Tours click here.