The Fall Of A Nation And Rise Of The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
The Taliban have conquered Afghanistan in over a week, despite the hundreds of billions of dollars spent by the U.S. and NATO for 20 years to build up the Afghan military. The Taliban has defeated, co-opted or sent the Afghan military running for their lives, some fleeing to Iran and Pakistan, despite being given limited air support from the U.S. military. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and other diplomats fled the country, and the Taliban declared the "war is over" and declared itself the The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
The Taliban has insisted their fighters wouldn't enter people's homes or interfere with businesses. It also claimed they'd offer an "amnesty" to those who worked with the Afghan government or foreign forces. It has also claimed that it will respect women's rights in accordance with its 'Islamic values' which are shaped by a regressive worldview and patriarchal violence.
Despite assurances of safety by the Taliban's leadership, there have been reports of revenge killings and other brutal tactics in areas of the country the Taliban have seized in recent days. The violence displayed by fighters often stands in opposition to the words spoken by their leadership which offers two possibilities; which are that the Taliban leadership's hierarchy lacks the ability to discipline and control its fighting forces or they have been lying on the assurances of safety. In either case, the Taliban and the new incoming government confronts several challenges that range from the handling of the COVID19 pandemic to reigning in fighters who only know war. There have also been reports of gunfire at the Kabul airport which have left at least 6 people dead, it is unclear if they died from the gunfire or the ensuing stampede. Some people clinging on to departing planes have also reportedly fallen to their deaths.
Many people have chosen to flee, some are attempting to cross into neighboring countries, braving Taliban checkpoints and bandits. More are rushing to the Kabul airport, the safest route for many living out of the country as the Taliban now hold every border crossing. NATO said it was "helping to maintain operations at Kabul airport to keep Afghanistan connected with the world."
Escape From Kabul
Afghans and foreigners are currently participating in a max exodus from the country after the hasty US pull out after 20 years of combat. Afghans, especially women, are at a heightened risk of persecution from advancing Taliban forces. They are in urgent need of evacuation and international protection abroad. Women and children risk abduction, rape, and death at the hands of the Taliban, a situation created by the Whitehouse's alleged peace deal brokered by former President Trump who took credit for the failed withdrawal on June 26, 2021: "I started the process. All the troops are coming back home. They couldn't stop the process. 21 years is enough. Don't we think? 21 years. [The Biden admin] couldn't stop the process. They wanted to, but it was very tough to stop." and the current President Biden's decision to uphold a poorly planned withdrawal. The US President Biden previously said “I do not regret my decision", but is reportedly surprised by the Taliban's rapid take over of the country, despite repeated warnings by his advisors, generals, and other experts that outlined this exact outcome.
The Taliban's War On Women
There are credible reports of women and children being beaten, forcibly taken as wives, and raped by the Taliban across the country. The U.N. refugee agency says nearly 250,000 Afghans have fled their homes since the end of May amid fears the Taliban would reimpose their strict and ruthless interpretation of Islam, all but eliminating women’s rights. Eighty percent of those displaced are women and children. The Taliban ruled all of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. Everyone faced restrictions under their Islamic rule, but those imposed on women were the most severe. Women couldn’t leave their homes without a male guardian, and were required to cover their bodies from head to toe in a long robe called a burqa. Women were not seen as human and were treated as slaves, they could not visit health centers, attend school, or work. According to the Taliban's version of Islam, women are inferior and only valued for slave labour, reproduction, and sexual gratification.
After the Taliban was driven out by the United States early in the war, women bravely entered public life in Afghanistan in droves. While the Taliban was not around, women still face hardship and were targeted by the highly regressive and patriarchal society. Despite facing tremendous obstacles, Afghan women entered fields of law, medicine and politics. Women make up more than a quarter of parliamentarians, and by 2016 more than 150,000 women had been elected to local offices nationwide. After the take over of the Taliban, notable women are being hunted down, some of which are reportedly being summarily executed, raped, or disappeared for daring to advance their education, career, and human rights.
“Everyone is so hopeless & destroying their documents that might prove a linkage to intel orgs, we are imprisoned in our homes”.— Zaina Erhaim (@ZainaErhaim) August 16, 2021
A message I received today from a feminist friend in #Afghanistan. Fearing from neighbours, stomach-ache, helplessness.. This is so painfully familiar. pic.twitter.com/w55tNgP3uL
Using mosque loudspeakers, Taliban terrorists in areas under their control are announcing that women must now wear the burqa and have a male chaperone in public of face punishment. The Taliban is also reportedly burning public schools, libraries, and computer labs to roll back education and free will. A local fighter from Herat told the channel France 24 in June 2021. “We destroy them [and] put in place our own religious schools, in order to train future Taliban,” In Taliban-run religious schools for girls, students learn the “appropriate” Islamic role of women, according to the Taliban’s regressive Islam. The education consists largely of preparing girls to be domestic slaves and submission.
Pakistani activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai has weighed in on the situation in Afghanistan on social media. "We watch in complete shock," she wrote on Twitter on Sunday, as the Taliban took control of capital Kabul.
The Pakistani human rights defender is best known for her advocacy, particularly in the sphere of education of women and children. "I am deeply worried about women, minorities and human rights advocates. Global, regional and local powers must call for an immediate ceasefire, provide urgent humanitarian aid and protect refugees and civilians."
We watch in complete shock as Taliban takes control of Afghanistan. I am deeply worried about women, minorities and human rights advocates. Global, regional and local powers must call for an immediate ceasefire, provide urgent humanitarian aid and protect refugees and civilians.— Malala (@Malala) August 15, 2021
Afghan-American novelist Khaled Hosseini, best known for his works The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, wrote: "The people of Afghanistan do not deserve this." He also shared a plea to his followers to send donations to the UNHCR to help Afghan families displaced by violence. Hosseini wrote: "The American decision has been made. And the nightmare Afghans feared is unfolding before our eyes. We cannot abandon a people that have searched 40 years for peace. Afghan women must not be made to languish again behind locked doors & pulled curtains."
American actress Azita Ghanizada, who was born in Afghanistan, wrote on Monday morning: "I am gutted," with a broken heart emoji. "Kids showing up for school. Even though it’s closed. Teachers saying goodbye to the young girls who likely won’t be able to return. This is what we leave behind. The undoing of 20 years of progress, overnight. May they all be safe."
Important: as the Taliban sweep continues, the # of displaced Afghans will only rise. Since May, over 300,000 have fled home. They need food, shelter, emergency relief. Please consider donating to @refugees to help Afghan families displaced by violence: https://t.co/OTWHyjJ5JX— Khaled Hosseini (@khaledhosseini) August 15, 2021
Artist Shamsia Hassani, who is known as Afghanistan's first female street artist, has been sharing her paintings. "Maybe it is because our wishes have grown in a black pot," she wrote in the caption. "Taliban, fear, stress, war, peace..."
I am gutted 💔kids showing up for school. Even though it’s closed. Teachers saying goodbye to the young girls who likely won’t be able to return. This is what we leave behind. The undoing of 20 years of progress, overnight. May they all be safe #Afghanistan pic.twitter.com/9xbK3tAItC— Azita Ghanizada (@AzitaGhanizada) August 16, 2021
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HRW recommends foreign governments should prioritize providing visas and helping ensure safe passage for civilians whom the Taliban may target for abuse because of their past work or status, along with their immediate family members. The Taliban forces is currently hunting down critics and dissents despite claiming that they have ordered their fighters to act with restraint. In Kandahar, the Taliban have been detaining and executing suspected members of the provincial government and security forces, and in some cases their relatives. Some social media influencers have also been disappeared or executed for previous jokes, commentary, and/or comments regarding the Taliban leadership. Even the tamest criticism has invoked the terrorist group's wrath and murderous vengeance.
Civilians feared to be at particular risk include those who have worked to promote human rights, democracy, and education; academics, writers, journalists, and other media workers; and people who have done work for foreign countries; among other at-risk categories.
According to Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director at Human Rights Watch, “The Taliban have a long record of abusing or killing civilians they deem ‘enemies,’ .. Whether from inside or outside of Afghanistan, governments and UN offices should provide protection and assistance to at-risk Afghans and make processing travel documents and transportation a priority.”
HRW says 'Governments should immediately suspend all deportations and forced returns to Afghanistan All countries should publicly recognize that Afghans fleeing Afghanistan should be given meaningful opportunities to seek asylum. The United Nations and UN member states should increase humanitarian assistance to neighboring countries to which Afghans are fleeing and support those countries admitting them. Governments should also increase support for emergency evacuation, relocation, and resettlement operations for Afghans, and urgently meet to adopt coordinated protocols for resettlement to third countries for people, particularly at risk.
Governments should also increase support for nongovernmental groups inside and outside of Afghanistan that promote human rights, women’s rights, children’s rights, education, health care, and other vital needs. Governments should ensure the participation of Afghan civil society groups in discussions of assistance and resettlement."
The organization goes on to recommend, "The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva should urgently pass a resolution creating a special body to collect and preserve evidence of abuses by all parties to the conflict in Afghanistan and prepare files to facilitate fair and independent criminal proceedings, with the assistance of the UN high commissioner for human rights.
The UN Security Council should immediately adopt a resolution demanding that all parties to the Afghan conflict abide by international human rights standards and international humanitarian law, notably the humane treatment of civilians and combatants in custody. It should reiterate that the International Criminal Court, to which Afghanistan is a party, can prosecute war crimes and other atrocities. The resolution should call on all parties to ensure that all civilians, including internally displaced people, have full and free access to humanitarian assistance from UN agencies and humanitarian groups."
There were also recommendations for the UN Security council, "The Security Council is set to renew the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in September. UNAMA’s mandate should be expanded to explicitly include collecting information and evidence of serious violations and abuses committed by all parties to the conflict. The council should instruct UNAMA to publicly report on its findings and share information and evidence with the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court as well as other international or domestic bodies investigating war crimes and other abuses in Afghanistan."
“Those who commit atrocities can one day expect to face justice for their crimes before the International Criminal Court or another tribunal.”
How To Help
Currently amid the chaos international organisations such as MSF and ICRC are preferred above local organisations as many of these are feared to have gone dormant or under threat by the Taliban. @YourAnonCentral will provide more aid options as they become available.
We’ve been supporting communities in #Afghanistan for over 30 years.— ICRC (@ICRC) August 15, 2021
We won’t stop now.