Wednesday, January 26

The Taliban promise not to be a haven for terrorists, breaking with their own past

The Taliban pledged to build an inclusive government, protect women’s rights “within the limits of Islamic law” and prevent Afghan territory from being used to attack any other country, seeking to allay concerns that the group is trying reimpose Islamic fundamentalism in Afghanistan.

The militant group’s rhetoric on Tuesday fits a pattern of reassuring comments since the Taliban seized the capital of Kabul on Sunday. But history argues against: their previous period in power, until they were toppled by the US military in 2001, was marked by an extremely conservative interpretation of Sharia laws that saw women face stoning. or execution for breach.


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“We assure the international community and especially the United States and neighboring countries that Afghanistan will not be used against them,” said Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed in Kabul, his first fully public appearance after 20 years spreading the message of the fundamentalist movement. Sunni from secret locations as he fought against Afghan and NATO forces.

The sudden pragmatism likely reflects the understanding within the Taliban ranks that officials must present a more moderate image if they hope to gain tacit recognition from the United States and its allies as the new rulers of Afghanistan. In addition to pushing back advances in the freedoms enjoyed by some women, a key concern is that the Taliban will allow terrorist groups like al Qaeda to rebuild a base in the country.

There are already doubts that the Taliban’s charm offensive will continue, especially in rural areas of the country. In recent weeks, militants in northern areas have told some employees of the International Bank of Afghanistan, the country’s largest by assets, to leave and go home, a bank official said.

Reports of forced marriages and orders for men to grow beards have also emerged. Thousands of residents have fled to neighboring countries in an attempt to escape life under the insurgents.

“After consultations, we will witness the formation of a strong inclusive Islamic government,” Mujahed said, avoiding questions about who would lead the country. He added that a Taliban-led Islamic emirate of Afghanistan would not seek retaliation against those who worked with the United States and the overthrown administration or fought the movement.

“All of them have been pardoned,” he said during a press conference lasting more than an hour, wearing the usual black Taliban turban. Mujahed said the group’s fighters would collect weapons in a country awash in weapons and crack down on opium production.

He sat down in front of a cluster of microphones and a bottle of hand sanitizer, with the white flag of the Taliban and blue velvet curtains behind him. A translator sat to his left, often bent over to translate foreign press questions or broadcast their responses. It was the first time that people had seen Mujahed with his face uncovered.

Earlier Tuesday, representatives of the Taliban, Afghan officials and leaders in Qatar, where the two sides held now-stalled peace talks, were thought to have started discussions in an effort to formalize the transition of power.

Arrival of Baradar

Details of the meetings were vague and later a senior Taliban delegation led by Deputy Chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who some observers would be Afghanistan’s next leader, flew from the Qatari capital of Doha to Kandahar, the southern city of Afghanistan. which was the scene of the austere movement. bastion when he previously ruled the country.

Kabul was reported to be largely calm. US forces restored security at the capital’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, where some military evacuation flights were resumed as nations withdrew their personnel.

Al Jazeera said the airport will reopen to civilians on Saturday, citing an unidentified security official. German defense officials said that for now the militant group had sealed off the facilities and was only letting members of the international community pass.

In her five-year rule from 1996 to 2001, women were prohibited from working outside the home and attending schools or universities, required to have a male escort if they went out in public, and were expected to wear a burqa, a garment that covered the entire face and body. Girls’ schools were closed and women were rarely allowed to leave the house. The group also banned almost all forms of entertainment, from music and television to sports and kite flying.

Earlier Tuesday, another Taliban official, who asked not to be named due to the group’s rules for speaking to the media, said that now women would be allowed to work “wherever they wish” in the government, the private sector, commerce and other places, as long as they comply with Islamic regulations.

The Taliban had also made advance promises of security and an “amnesty” for all government officials and employees since their fighters entered Kabul.

The desperate search for a way out of Afghanistan by the crowds that flocked to Kabul airport on Monday, with some clinging to departing planes, showed that many will need a lot to be convinced.

© 2021 Bloomberg

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