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About this chapter
This paper draws from research on protests under rebel governance and during the international intervention in Afghanistan (2001-2021) to argue that civilians continuously articulated interests and pressured both rebels and government. Rather than conceptualizing the conflict between state building and state failure, it can be read as a competition to govern. In mediating rural conflicts and building relationships even with constituencies which resented their rule, the Taliban out-governed the government, accommodating protesters where possible and repressing them where they challenged military gains. This process hollowed the Republic’s support base. Afghan protest movements against the new government thus face a novel situation: Less fragmented, more nationally connected and addressing a less insulated government which may prove responsive to their grievances, yet facing more repression and state violence which may intimidate activists.