World As world marks 9/11, Taliban flag raised over seat of power
The Taliban have declared victory. Now they must reckon with a country freefalling into chaos
The last American military flight left the airport and disappeared into the Kabul sky on Monday -- and minutes later, the Taliban flooded the streets around the city's last exit point, filling the night with celebratory gunfire. © Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times/Shutterstock Taliban militants spilled onto the streets outside Kabul airport after the final Western military flight left on Monday. It was a decisive and humbling final chapter to the United States' longest war, a two-decade effort that unraveled spectacularly in the space of a few weeks.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Taliban raised their iconic white flag over the Afghan presidential palace Saturday, a spokesman said, as the U.S. and the world marked the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
The banner, emblazoned with a Quranic verse, was hoisted by Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, the prime minister of the Taliban interim government, in a low-key ceremony, said Ahmadullah Muttaqi, multimedia branch chief of the Taliban’s cultural commission.
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A widespread narrative on social media misleads on the value of military equipment left behind in Afghanistan."The current regime that just gifted the Taliban with $80+ billion worth of military grade weapons wants your 9mm pistols," reads an Aug. 17 text post on Facebook. "THINK ABOUT IT.
The flag-raising marked the official start of the work of the new government, he said. The composition of the all-male, all-Taliban government was announced earlier this week and was met with disappointment by the international community which had hoped the Taliban would make good on an earlier promise of an inclusive lineup.
Two decades ago, the Taliban ruled Afghanistan with a heavy hand. Television was banned, and on Sept. 11, 2001, the day of the horrific attacks on America, the news spread from crackling radios across the darkened streets of the Afghan capital of Kabul.
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"Panjshir has always been the symbol of the resistance," said Ahmad Wali Massoud, brother of late Panjshir commander Ahmad Shah Massoud. The Taliban Cultural Commission's Abdul Qahar Balkhi called the uprising "a minor issue" he hoped to resolve through dialogue.The Taliban's rapid takeover of a nation it lost to a U.S.-led intervention two decades ago has shocked the international community. But amid the ongoing U.S. evacuations and the collapse of the Afghan government, one province has refused to give in and raise the flag of the Islamic Emirate.
The city rarely had electricity and barely a million people lived in Kabul at the time. It took the U.S.-led coalition just two months to drive the Taliban from the capital and by Dec. 7, 2001, they were defeated, driven from their last holdout in southern Kandahar, their spiritual heartland.
Twenty years later, the Taliban are back in Kabul. America has departed, ending its ‘forever war’ two weeks before the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and two weeks after the Taliban returned to the Afghan capital on Aug. 15.
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Biden added the deadline depends on Taliban cooperation, and added that he has asked the Depts. of State and Defense to prepare contingency plans.His remarks from the White House came the same day the Taliban said it would stop Afghans from trying to go to the Kabul airport and told women to stay home to stay for a time to stay safe, fueling worries about how the Taliban will treat women.
Some things have changed since the first period of Taliban rule in the 1990s.
This time, the gun-toting fighters don’t race through the city streets in their pickups. Instead, they inch through chaotic, clogged traffic in the city of more than 5 million. In Taliban-controlled Kabul in the 1990s, barber shops were banned. Now Taliban fighters get the latest haircuts, even if their beards remain untouched in line with their religious beliefs.
But the Taliban have begun issuing harsh edits that have hit women hardest, such as banning women's sports. They have also used violence to stop women demanding equal rights from protesting.
A look at the men leading Taliban's 'caretaker' government in Afghanistan
Here's a look at who's who in the new Taliban "caretaker" government in Afghanistan -- including men designated by the U.S. and U.N. as terrorists -- and no women. The most senior acting ministers included a who's who of men designated by the U.S. and U.N. as terrorists, including several key members of the Haqqani network, a militant group responsible for a number of major, deadly attacks in Afghanistan.
Inside a high-end women's store in the city's Karte Se neighborhood Saturday, Marzia Hamidi, a Taekwondo competitor with ambitions of being a national champion, said the return of the Taliban has crushed her dreams.
She was among the women attacked by the Taliban and called “agents of the West” during one of the recent protests. She said she's not surprised about America's withdrawal.
“This year or next year, they had to leave eventually,” she said. “They came for their own interest and they left for their interest.”
Hamidi is hoping the Taliban will relent and ease their restrictions, but with a glance toward the store owner, Faisal Naziri, she said “most men in Afghanistan agree with what the Taliban say about women and their rules against them.”
The Taliban want the world to think they've changed. Early signs suggest otherwise
The Taliban's stunningly swift takeover of Afghanistan has caused dread across much of the nation, as Afghans anxiously readjust to life under a militant group that repressed millions when last in power. © Rahmat Gul/AP Taliban fighters patrol in Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021. The Taliban declared an "amnesty" across Afghanistan and urged women to join their government Tuesday, seeking to convince a wary population that they have changed a day after deadly chaos gripped the main airport as desperate crowds tried to flee the country.
Naziri nodded, saying preserving the rights of women is not a cause that will bring Afghan men on the streets.
On Saturday, the Taliban even orchestrated a women's march of their own. This one involved dozens of women obscured from head to toe, hidden behind layers of black veils. They filled an auditorium at Kabul University’s education center in a well-choreographed snub to the past 20 years of Western efforts to empower women.
Speakers read from scripted speeches celebrating the Taliban victory over a West they charged was anti-Islam. The women marched briefly outside the center grounds, waving placards saying “the women who left don’t represent us,” referring to the many thousands who fled in fear of a Taliban crackdown on women's rights. “We don’t want co-education,” read another banner.
Outside the hall, the Taliban director of higher education, Maulvi Mohammad Daoud Haqqani, said 9/11 was the day “the world started their propaganda against us calling us terrorists and blaming us” for the attacks in the United States.
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The Taliban's top political leader, who made a triumphal return to Afghanistan this week, battled the U.S. and its allies for decades but then signed a landmark peace agreement with the Trump administration. Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar is now expected to play a key role in negotiations between the Taliban and officials from the Afghan government that the militant group deposed in its blitz across the country. The Taliban say they seek an “inclusive, Islamic” government and claim they have become more moderate since they last held power.
At a dusty book store in Kabul's Karte Sangi neighborhood, Atta Zakiri, a self-declared civil society activist said America was wrong to attack Afghanistan after 9/11.
He blamed the invasion that followed the 9/11 attacks for creating another generation of hardline Taliban fighters.
“The Taliban should have been allowed to stay. Why didn't we work with them? Instead they went to fight,” he said." And now we are back to where we were 20 years ago.”
Taliban promise to uphold rights for women and US allies, but White House is skeptical .
The Taliban said they won't hurt women. U.S. military commanders work with the militant group to allow Americans and some Afghans to evacuate.Before the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, women virtually had no rights under the fundamentalist Taliban's oppressive rule. Most were forced to quit their jobs and stay at home, denied access to education and health care, enduring high rates of illiteracy and maternal mortality.