Taliban’s take over has unveiled the dawn of a new political dispensation in the Middle East and West Asia. To prognosticate the dynamics of this dispensation, the composition of Afghan society, the anatomy of the Taliban’s movement, US failures, the conduct of the last Afghan government and regional politics are important variables. Afghan society is a highly tribalised polity, characterised by resilience, power, religion, lineage, bonding and prejudice. The evolution of Afghan society towards a cohesive polity has been stuck during the last four decades after a prolonged national identity crisis, caused by foreign invasions, proxy wars, and cultural cartelisation. During the late 90s, the Taliban exploited the space that emerged out of the identity crises, proposed a religion-based unification model, drove it through power, and put it in place with the help of their foreign strategic allies like Pakistan. Hosting Usama Bin Ladin was not a matter of choice for the Taliban. Their ideological adherence to Jihad was an extended part of the religious romance, which helped them to overcome the non-religious, linguistic, and tribal power frictions during the 90s. The US failed to assess the unseen dimensions of the war. The larger military component of the war was almost finished on December 6 with the fall of Qandahar, in months after the first NATO airstrike on Afghan soil (October 7, 2001). During the rest of the 19 years, the war was sociological, economic, and political. Ashraf Ghani and his team have proven to be the worst ground partners. The challenge for the Post-Taliban Afghan setup was to expedite the process of national assimilation into a moderate polity through urbanisation with the inclusion of a dynamic middle-class in the policymaking. The key perimeters were infrastructure development, modernisation of education, military build-up, and industrialisation. Despite lending huge economic aid to articulate these four perimeters, the US and NATO failed to devise a comprehensive implementation and regulatory framework to oversee the transparent trickle-down of the invested money. The exclusivity of Ghani’s regime played a major role in inculcating a sense of alienation among those even who stood against the Taliban in 2001. Pashto-speaking former British army officer, Dr Mike Martin, tracked the history of the conflict in Helmand, confirmed the lack of ownership and noted in his book, “An Intimate War,” that Afghanistan’s shape-changing history illustrated how families, tribes, and even government officials had switched sides – often to ensure their survival. Ring Road, for example, was one important infrastructure project out of many that might have saved the fall of Kabul. It would run in a 1,988-mile (3,200 km) loop connecting Afghanistan’s four biggest cities-Kabul, Kandahar, Herat and Mazar-I-Sharif. The road was constructed earlier in the 1960s by the Soviets. This road could be a remarkable source to reduce the space for religious fanaticism by improving cultural mobility, access to education, and quality of life. “Where the roads end in Afghanistan, the Taliban begin. In other words, roads promote enterprise. Enterprise promotes hope. Hope is what defeats this ideology of darkness,” George H W Bush noted in 2001 and then forgot it. The US didn’t finish the job, invaded Iraq in 2004 and diverted the focus from Kabul to Baghdad. The US has poured in enormous financial and logistic support to function as a democratic replacement in Kabul. However, Ashraf Ghani and his team have proven to be the worst ground partners. Ghani’s approach remained introverted and centralised in addition to the lack of charisma in his person. The replaced economic model failed mainly due to its following a market economy model and not a mixed economy like the European states did after the Second World War with the government essentially running a part of the economy. Moreover, in its latest report to the US Congress, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan (SIGAR) expressed, “serious concerns about the corrosive effects of corruption… and the questionable accuracy of data on the actual strength of the force.”In its July 2021 report, SIGAR confirmed more than $88bn had been spent on Afghanistan’s security but the outcomes were not properly evaluated and misreported. The Taliban has guaranteed their soil will not be used for proliferating terrorism across its borders. Nevertheless, the deeper you go inside the construct of religious interpretation framing their strong legitimacy in front of their followers and sympathisers, the more reasons are there to get sceptical about this preposition. Their school of thought sees the whole world as a canvas to experiment with their self-expounded sharia laws. All other religions, or even Muslim sects like Shia or Sufi Islam, should not sustain a position of power, their school asserts. Fault lines of this pan-Islamic ideology are visible in the adjacent countries as well. The allied organisations working for the same cause with their styles and limits consider the fall of Kabul as a symbol of energy and a signal of hope from the divine to continue their struggle. Many hardliners among the Taliban can incline towards ISIL after being convinced of the argument, “If it is obligatory to sacrifice for God’s supremacy on Earth, then why should we limit ourselves to the frontiers of Afghanistan? Why not the whole world?” To connect with a universal jihadi network active in Central Asia, Africa and the Middle East is more appealing to the indoctrinated and weaponised youth. The age group of 24 and below constitutes 62 per cent of the population pyramid. Most of them in the rural areas are poor, deprived of modern education, and readily available to join the higher cause for all practical and ideological reasons. Taliban’s perspective about a woman’s role in human society, minorities, clothing, outlook, and many other aspects otherwise listed under the scope of personal choice in all civilised laws, is integral to their political purpose. Any hope for rationalisation denies the fact that this is an ideology-driven structure. The Taliban’s unity of command and purpose comes from their loyalty to their texts, which are highly structured in nature with limited liberty to allow adaptations. The reborn Taliban emirate comes equipped with a battle-tested army, now bolstered by surrendered American weapons. Their war strategy and the tactical take-over of Kabul prove their enhanced analytical capacity. But they will need money to operate in the modern world. However, they are intelligent enough to carve out solutions for that. A conservative, undemocratic, Sunni religious government on the Eastern front of Iran would be making the hearts of Saudi strategic thinkers go pit-a-pat. As far as the US was Afghanistan’s overlord, Iran had little reason to fear actual military adventures by its gulf adversaries. Washington, after all, would firmly resist any attempt to draw it into yet another Middle Eastern War. Moreover, Iran’s support for Yemen’s Houthis on South Arabia’s southern flank caused endless consternation in Riyadh. Taliban knows their bargaining potential in the Middle East and would readily extract cash out of the insecurities of two big rivals in the region. Although China’s cautiousness may be predicated on domestic compulsions due to Uyghur’s unrest in Xinjiang, it has agreed to evolve its policy from being premised on calculated indifference to strategic engagement about its transcontinental connectivity, Belt and Road Initiative. Beijing looks for a stable authority in Kabul to secure its previous mineral exploration agreements in the North and to peruse further. Meanwhile, tough times lie ahead for the educated, vibrant, and moderate Afghan middle-class. The last two decades witnessed the emergence of a third space in public opinion, represented by professionals, students, artists, musicians, thriving women, and those who value human liberty, reason, and progression. They are helpless and disappointed. The writer is an academic, columnist and public policy researcher.