While not underestimating the oft-cited "ethnic factor" in Afghan politics, especially Pashtun dominance, Dorronsoro argues that class and the competition for employment and education are key factors in explaining the country's recent past. The 1990s saw the triumph of religious authorities (the ulema) and the marginalization of the traditional elites. With coalition intervention in 2001 and the subsequent deposition of the ulema-dominated Taliban, the educated elites are back in power. However, as Dorronsoro argues, patching up the country by means of short-term ethnic alliances and a new division of the spoils will only perpetuate the schisms in society. The Afghan civil war, Dorronsoro suggests, is set to continue and perhaps worsen over time.
Gilles Dorronsoro is professor of political science at the University of Paris I (Pantheon-Sorbonne). He is a prominent expert on contemporary Afghan politics who has lecture throughout the world. This book is a revised and expanded version of Dorronsoro's La Revolution Afghane: Des Communistes aux Talebans (2000). He is cofounder of the European Journal of Turkish Studies.