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World Taliban promise to uphold rights for women and US allies, but White House is skeptical

15:55  18 september  2021
15:55  18 september  2021 Source:   usatoday.com

After two decades and billions spent, Afghan government collapses as Taliban takes Kabul

  After two decades and billions spent, Afghan government collapses as Taliban takes Kabul The Taliban, which for hours had been in the outskirts of Kabul, announced soon after they would move farther into a city gripped by panic.Embattled President Ashraf Ghani fled the country as the Taliban entered the capital city of Kabul, and American troops scrambled to evacuate thousands of U.S. diplomats and Afghans from the U.S. Embassy.

WASHINGTON – After taking over Afghanistan, the Taliban declared "amnesty" for government officials Tuesday and vowed to uphold women's rights under Islamic law – promises met with skepticism in Washington.

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.

Todd Armstrong et al. posing for a photo: Members of the Taliban have control of the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 16. © AL JAZEERA/AFP via Getty Images Members of the Taliban have control of the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 16.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, said Tuesday at a news conference that they were working to form a government and that "nobody will be harmed." Mujahid said the Taliban's aim is to make sure "Afghanistan is no longer a battlefield of conflict."

As world marks 9/11, Taliban flag raised over seat of power

  As world marks 9/11, Taliban flag raised over seat of power 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. © Provided by Associated Press A man walks down the stairs at dusk in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021.

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"We have pardoned all those who have fought against us. Animosities have come to an end," he said. "We do not want to have any problems with the international community."

Hours after the Taliban news conference, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the United States won't take the group at its word but will watch its actions when it comes to human rights.

“This is not about trust. This is about verify," Sullivan said at the White House. “And we'll see what the Taliban end up doing in the days and weeks ahead.”

Interpreters, drivers and others who helped U.S. and NATO forces fear the Taliban will "slaughter" them, viewing them as traitors.

Many Afghans remain so fearful of Taliban rule that they rushed departing planes after the militant group gained control of Kabul. Chaos unfolded a day earlier at Hamid Karzai International Airport, where thousands desperate to flee the country forced the United States and other countries to halt the evacuation of diplomats and Afghan civilians who assisted American troops.

The Taliban want the world to think they've changed. Early signs suggest otherwise

  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.

Mujahid said the militant group is "committed to the rights of women under the system of sharia (Islamic) law," but he emphasized they would work and study "within our frameworks."

"They are going to be working shoulder to shoulder with us. We would like to assure the international community that there will be no discrimination," he said.

“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan doesn’t want the women to be the victims anymore,” said Enamullah Samangani, a member of the Taliban’s cultural commission.

The Taliban regime was known for particularly violent enforcement of draconian codes. For instance, women seen in public without a male relative could be raped, abducted and forced into marriage. Women who were raped could be executed.

In May, a bombing at a girls’ school in Kabul killed dozens, many of them students ages  11 to 15. Though the Taliban denied responsibility, the Afghan government blamed them.

What Happens If the Taliban Takes Control of Afghanistan?

  What Happens If the Taliban Takes Control of Afghanistan? One analyst told Newsweek that a Taliban-run Afghanistan could have devastating ramifications for civilians, especially women and girls.Given the recent withdrawal of allied forces and how quickly the Taliban has increased its hold on swathes of the country, officials are concerned that the militants may eventually seize total control of Afghanistan.

Sullivan said the United States has tools – including sanctions, international condemnation and isolation – it can deploy if women in Afghanistan are mistreated.

Though Sullivan said his heart goes out to Afghan women and girls, he argued the choice was not between saving or abandoning them. Deciding to keep a U.S. military force in the country would have come with human costs for American soldiers.

“These are the choices a president has to make," he said.

Jake Sullivan wearing a suit and tie: White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan defends the president's decision to withdraw from Afghanistan. © Anna Moneymaker, Getty Images White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan defends the president's decision to withdraw from Afghanistan.

The United States is working with the Taliban, who said they will provide safe passage to Kabul's airport for Americans and others trying to leave.

"I come at this with no expectations," Sullivan said about whether the Taliban are different from the way they were in 2001. “It’s going to be up to the Taliban to show the rest of the world who they are and how they intend to proceed. The track record has not been good.”

Frank McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, said in a statement that air traffic controllers and ground handlers at Kabul's airport are "rapidly scaling up operations to ensure the smooth flow of military reinforcements to the airport and the evacuation of U.S. and partner civilians."

The bursting 'Ka-bubble': Taliban extremism is remaking a once-cosmopolitan Kabul

  The bursting 'Ka-bubble': Taliban extremism is remaking a once-cosmopolitan Kabul Restless Kabul residents ponder what remains and what changes in the Afghan capital after more than a month of Taliban rule.Some would say it was less a place than a feeling, the sense that this metropolis — supercharged by billions in Western assistance — was somehow insulated from the daily battles grinding outside the city gates. That wasn't entirely true. Bombings, assassinations and attacks echoed through the capital over the years. But unlike the provinces and hinterlands, this messy city of markets, mosques and green Ford Ranger pickup trucks felt like a relatively safe space in a battered nation.

McKenzie said he made clear to Taliban senior leaders in Doha, the capital of Qatar, on Sunday that interference with the evacuation or any attack "would be met with overwhelming force in the defense of our forces."

"The protection of U.S. civilians and our partners is my highest priority," he said, "and we will take all necessary action to ensure a safe and efficient withdrawal."

Mujahid said private media could maintain independence,  but journalists "should not work against national values."

The White House froze Afghan reserves Sunday in an attempt to block the Taliban from accessing money in U.S. banks, according to The Washington Post.

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Evacuation flights from Kabul underway

Visual story: Kabul's airport chaos and the Taliban advance, explained with maps and graphics

The Kabul airport was back open, and as many as 800 people were evacuated overnight, including 165 U.S. citizens, said Army Gen. William Taylor, an official on the Joint Staff.

U.S. military commanders in Kabul are communicating with Taliban officials outside the international airport to allow for the safe evacuation of U.S. citizens and Afghans, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Tuesday.

Kabul: Defiant Afghan women are protesting the Taliban's all-male interim government

  Kabul: Defiant Afghan women are protesting the Taliban's all-male interim government Groups of Afghan women, rights organizations and senior international figures have reacted with outrage and dismay to the Taliban's announcement of a hardline, male-only interim government in Afghanistan and a harsh crackdown on dissent. © AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid addresses a news conference in Kabul on September 7, 2021. A small band of defiant women marched against the Taliban in western Kabul on Wednesday holding signs declaring "No government can deny the presence of women" and "I will sing freedom over and over.

a group of people standing around a plane: Afghan families roam the Kabul airport Aug. 16, amid thousands of people trying to flee the Taliban's hard-line brand of Islamist rule. © WAKIL KOHSAR, AFP via Getty Images Afghan families roam the Kabul airport Aug. 16, amid thousands of people trying to flee the Taliban's hard-line brand of Islamist rule.

Kirby declined to characterize the discussions but said “the results are speaking for themselves.”

Evacuation flights could carry as many as 9,000 people out of Afghanistan per day, Taylor said. The airport has been secured by American Marines and soldiers, and more than 4,000 troops will be on the ground by the end of Tuesday, he said.

Biden's remarks draw bipartisan criticism; $500M pledged for refugees

President Joe Biden defended his decision to withdraw U.S. troops despite the rapid collapse of the Afghan government.

Who are the Taliban and what is happening in Afghanistan?

  Who are the Taliban and what is happening in Afghanistan? Who are the Taliban and what is happening in Afghanistan? The Taliban, a militant group that ran the country in the late 1990s, have again taken control.The US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 ousted the insurgents from power, but they never left. After they blitzed across the country in recent days, the western-backed government that has run the country for 20 years collapsed. Afghans, fearing for the future, raced to the airport, one of the last routes out of the country.

The president returned to Camp David, the Maryland presidential retreat, and stayed largely out of view as he drew bipartisan criticism for the administration's handling of the evacuations.

After his remarks, the White House announced Biden allocated $500 million from the Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund to assist refugees fleeing Afghanistan.

The funds will be used to meet "unexpected urgent refugee and migration needs of refugees, victims of conflict, and other persons at risk as a result of the situation in Afghanistan, including applicants for Special Immigrant Visas," according to a statement from the White House.

“We plan on being on the ground there in Afghanistan for the next couple of weeks,” Kirby said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “It’s not just about moving out Americans. It is very much about meeting our moral and sacred obligations to those Afghans who helped us over the last 20 years, getting as many of them out as we can.”

FAQ: Would it have been different under Trump?

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Taliban promise to uphold rights for women and US allies, but White House is skeptical

Russia Gloats That its Government Lasted Longer in Afghanistan Than U.S. 'Regime' .
"The regime created by the Americans tumbled down even before they left. That's a principal difference," said Zamir Kabulov, the Kremlin envoy for Afghanistan.Zamir Kabulov, the Kremlin envoy for Afghanistan, said that he and other Russians didn't anticipate such a quick collapse.

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