Taliban Time Travel, or How Our Understanding Is Almost Always Two Years Old

I've been noticing something on twitter and in the public debate surrounding the Afghan Taliban over the past few days. An interview of Motassim in the Guardian last week was shared widely online, and people particularly seemed to find his comments about Mullah Mohammad Omar's loss of control of the Taliban interesting. To those following the Taliban closely this isn't news. It's been the case for two or three years at least. What is interesting is that it has taken that long for that kind of analysis and comment to become accepted by mainstream commentators and to become part of the public debate on the Afghan Taliban.

My very unscientific guess is that there's usually a lag of 6-18 months from a trend starting to emerge within the Taliban to the point where those outside the movement start to notice it. And from there there's another 1-2 years before a particular feature or analytical point becomes accepted and part of public discourse.

Needless to say, this incredibly slow dispersal of understanding makes it hard for analysis and action to mesh together usefully.