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Afghanistan took advantage of the situation with Ukraine and lowered the “iron” curtain

Citizens are not allowed out of the country

The other day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced the accreditation of the first diplomat from the Taliban government (a terrorist organization banned in the Russian Federation) in the Russian Federation.


Photo: Global Look Press

Now the events in Afghanistan have faded into the background. There is practically no information about what is happening in the country.

Naimi Ahmad Shoaib, an economist and supporter of the Afghan National Resistance Front, described how the Taliban took advantage of the situation while the world community is following the events around Ukraine.

– As far as I know, this person has been in Russia for a long time. He is trying to interact with the embassy staff, but there is no specific information about him, says Naimi Ahmad Shoaib. – The fact is that ghost people are sitting in the leadership of the Taliban. They have no biography, no one knows where they came from, what they did before. I suspect that this diplomat is the same “dark horse” for many. So far, there is no understanding in what format he plans to fulfill his duties. According to rumors, the people who now work in the embassy do not recognize the current regime. Now they will have a new headache.

“Terrible things are happening there. The Taliban have broken all the promises they made earlier. They said that they would allow girls to study at schools and universities. And when the girls came to the first lesson, after a couple of hours they were forced to leave the educational institutions. And then a decree came out that girls were allowed to attend school until the sixth grade. There is a video where schoolgirls with tears in their eyes complained about this bullying.

The Taliban use the closure of schools for girls as a bargaining chip with the world community. They say if they help us economically and politically, we will allow education for women.

The Taliban also talked about amnesty. So there was no amnesty. Moreover, every day there is information that in Afghanistan someone was shot, kidnapped, and so on. More than a month ago, the Taliban kidnapped thirty activists. They released two people. The fate of the rest is unknown. Nobody knows their whereabouts. These are ordinary peaceful people who worked in government agencies.

The other day there was news that a doctor who worked under the former government was killed and burned. The Taliban commit atrocities and at the same time are not ashamed to travel to different countries, participate in events, receive a platform for statements. Stuff like that is shocking.

– In recent days, the Taliban have begun to work more actively in this direction. Especially in those places where there are resistance forces.

There remains an alarming story with the passports that they issue to anyone. People from Pakistan and other countries come to the country and calmly receive an Afghan passport. It is difficult to calculate how many passports and to whom the Taliban issued them. Nobody knows.

But ordinary citizens of Afghanistan cannot get passports. Do not issue documents and cultural figures. The latter can get a passport if they make a public apology for what they used to do, write, cover.

There is one well-known religious figure in Afghanistan. He has been trying to get a passport for several months now. When the man asked what the problem was, he was offered to apologize on camera for what he had done before.

The culture in Afghanistan is sad now. The Taliban banned the traditional spring holiday Navruz.

Now you can’t go to the park with your family, get some fresh air. The Taliban came up with a schedule: women walk on one day, men on another. Together prohibited.

A lot of strange things have happened lately. The fact is that the Taliban took advantage of the moment when the entire world community is occupied by Ukraine. Nobody pays any attention to them. Everyone was not up to Afghanistan. Therefore, now they are trying to destroy as many people as possible who do not agree with their regime. For more than a month they have been actively cleaning the population, fighting the resistance forces. Their hands are untied, because they are no longer looked after. During this time, they want to achieve all the goals.

– Recently, the Taliban came up with a dress code that all civil servants must comply with. People must wear specific clothes to work, and men must wear a certain length of beard. A person will not be hired if his beard is slightly longer or shorter than it should be. The beard is measured with a ruler.

The Taliban are constantly coming up with rules that drive people crazy. Meanwhile, more than 90 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. People have nothing to eat, they are dying of hunger, someone has lost their homes, they have nothing left, and at this time the Taliban come up with dress codes.

Many citizens of Afghanistan morally surrendered, agreed to work under their control, do whatever they say.

– Is there no more humanitarian aid coming to Afghanistan?

– There is nothing left. And the Taliban sold the aid that came in, or allocated it at their own discretion. A small part reached the needy.

– Foreign media have been banned from working in Afghanistan. It is almost impossible to get information from there. Locals, risking their lives, record the events themselves, film them, pass them on to friends who live abroad to publish them.

The Taliban recently released an activist who was kidnapped a month and a half ago. Then it was filmed. It was clear from her gestures and emotions what condition she was in. Apparently, the woman survived hunger, torture, and bullying. I couldn't even speak properly. She was forced to come to terms, to end her active life, rallies. She no longer fights for women's rights.

All activists released from custody, university teachers who had their own views, disappeared from the media, are not shown anywhere, do not write anything. We cannot imagine what they did to them there, what torture they were subjected to in order to silence them.

– Under the new order, a woman cannot leave the country without an escort. And now the citizens of Afghanistan are no longer allowed to go abroad. The Taliban believe that so many people have already left, enough, let the rest stay.

Yes, and they have nowhere else to go. Citizens of Afghanistan are not accepted anywhere. Many who recently struggled to get out of the country were immediately sent back. The nearest neighboring countries say: we can no longer accept refugees, we have no opportunities, we ourselves are under sanctions. Even those citizens who have visas are not allowed into the country.

People are forced to stay and live in fear. There is no other way out.


Billions froze: how Afghanistan wintered under the rule of the Taliban

More than 20 million people in Afghanistan need some form of assistance, the UN said. RBC video


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Local residents who fled from Afghanistan were evacuated from Ukraine


The Washington Post, citing a source in the State Department, reported that a group of 44 Afghans, whom Ukraine in September last year, they evacuated from Afghanistan, they wanted to leave Ukraine.

“On the eve of the second evacuation, a group consisting of 44 Afghans, whom the Ukrainian military evacuated from the country to Kiev in September last year,” writes the media.

It is specified that nine families went to Doha. There, their documents will be processed for further entry into the United States.


Boris Gromov: “The entry of Soviet troops into Afghanistan was a catastrophic mistake”

The USSR overestimated its power

February 15 marks the 33rd anniversary of the end of the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan. This unique operation was led by the Hero of the Soviet Union, General Boris Gromov, who then commanded the 40th Army.

He shared his thoughts and experiences of those years in the recently published book Three Lives of One Man.


Life number one in it is dedicated to the Afghan events more than thirty years ago, in which, by the will of fate, Boris Vsevolodovich took part for five and a half years out of nine, during which there was a war in Afghanistan.

– It's simple. Afghanistan is one of the most difficult and tragic pages of my life. Because I spent a total of five and a half years in Afghanistan, that is, more than any of the military people, and not only really know this country and the events of those years that took place there better than others. The main thing is that they, these events, radically influenced the fate of our great country – the USSR. Very little was said about it then, and it is said today. And my book is the result of what I experienced and saw in Afghanistan with my own eyes; which I extracted after a long study of the archives on this topic.

— This decision was a catastrophic mistake. Because:

First. The war in Afghanistan led to numerous casualties, swallowed up huge material resources, destabilized the situation in the world, in Central Asia, and intensified the political radicalization of Islam. In reality, it was one of the factors that influenced the collapse of the USSR.

Second. At the end of the 70s, there was no need to send Soviet troops to Afghanistan, since there were no reasons for this, although the desire of the Soviet Union to keep this “friendly” country under its control was great. The main factor in the decision to send troops to the DRA turned out to be the “personal”, subjective factor. On the part of the leadership of the USSR, a clear overestimation of their own power and an underestimation of the ability of the Afghans to resist was allowed. The general situation in the region is poorly worked out, and especially the possible influence of an external factor, that is, the United States and its allies. The tasks were set by our leadership to the maximum, and the forces for their implementation were allocated to the minimum.

Third. The decision of the Soviet leadership to send troops to the DRA was taken without a proper assessment of the situation and the development of the situation, without an analysis of the scale and methods of the upcoming hostilities. The leaders of the USSR had a vague idea of ​​the final result of the introduction of troops. But to plan and start a war like that is complete madness. Fortunately for them, throughout the course of the war, our troops “corrected” the voluntaristic decisions of the Moscow “generals”. War must be taken very seriously and thoroughly.

On December 26, 1979, National Security Assistant Zbigniew Brzezinski sent a memorandum to President Jimmy Carter regarding the entry of Soviet troops. He immediately felt the benefit of the United States in connection with the entry of Soviet troops into Afghanistan and decided to take advantage of the unique chance provided to intensify subversive activities against the Soviet Union. The United States eventually managed to direct the vector of Islamic extremism against the USSR, and later – Russia and other states of Central Asia, Yugoslavia … At the same time, the CIA directed its activities not to expel Soviet troops from Afghanistan, but to prevent their exit in order to create economic ruin and undermining the political authority of the USSR in the world. They proceeded from the fact that Soviet leaders, who hardly admit their mistakes, will stand in Afghanistan to the last soldier.

– Certainly. But I wouldn't use the word “intervention” at all. We entered there at the request of the legitimate authorities. Just like now in Syria. These were legitimate authorities, they asked us to send troops. The alternative, if we wanted to help Afghanistan (and the Soviet Union wanted to help and always did), was the same as before: continue to increase military-technical and economic assistance, train military specialists, engineers, and transport workers. That, I think, was the only alternative.

– Indeed, disputes about whether the 40th Army won or lost the war in Afghanistan still do not subside. The most correct thing is that there is no subject of dispute, because we, the 40th Army, did not have the task of winning by military means, such a task did not exist in nature. It did not exist either in the orders of the Minister of Defense, or in the directives of the Chief of the General Staff, and even more so in some instructions of the Central Committee of the CPSU or the Soviet government. That is why the appropriate structure and strength of the Limited Contingent of Soviet Troops in Afghanistan was selected!

Therefore, periodically appearing statements and statements of various kinds of “politicians” and representatives of other professions that the 40th Army was defeated in Afghanistan are ordinary lies and cheap populism on the bones of our guys. And if such a task (God forbid) stood, then be sure that it would be completed, but at the same time there would be a sea of ​​blood.

Our “smart theorists” all the time talk about supposedly unfulfilled military tasks . You are our experts!..

But no one has ever dared to consider the fulfillment, or rather, the failure to fulfill the main political tasks during their stay in the DRA.

Apparently, something interfered, but maybe someone else.

For all the time that we were there, we did not allow a single army of the world not only to violate the border of Afghanistan, but also to try to invade its territory. To prevent this was the main official task for us (40th Army)!

In the course of its implementation, we ground a huge number of militants and terrorists. This was our great contribution to the impending fight against terrorism in most countries of the world.

“It didn't happen right away. Three years after the withdrawal of Soviet troops, the situation in Afghanistan was more or less normal and stable. And only when Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin decided to stop providing economic assistance to Afghanistan, then after that everything changed dramatically, and a catastrophe occurred. The country plunged into chaos, a war of all against all, accompanied by the grandiose violence of the Taliban against the civilian population.

— Of course, right. There was no alternative. And it is very important that it was necessary to withdraw the troops within the time period determined by the Geneva agreements. Which we did – confidently, beautifully and with virtually no losses, unlike the United States and NATO, which disgraced themselves in the same situation, showed their incompetence and unsupported megalomania.

— Most likely, they would have resisted . But when the faithful Leninist internationalist Boris Nikolaevich Yeltsin decided to stop helping, everything fell apart. Literally right away.

— No, I don't think so. Time has been lost. I really feel sorry for this man that he was treated like this and abandoned him. The Taliban caught him in Kabul, killed him, mutilated his body and hung him from a tree in the city center.

– In my book, I showed archival documents on this topic. The numbers are huge. But I never found the final amount anywhere.

– Without a doubt, the war in Afghanistan was a serious impetus to the beginning of the collapse of a great country – the Soviet Union. This is obvious even today, several decades after its (war) end!

— There are many differences: both in goals, and in tasks, and in the methods of their implementation. But the main thing was that the Afghans and I were honest both in battle and in ordinary life! We treated ordinary Afghans with respect, helped them a lot in everything, and they appreciated it and still remember it!

I am immensely glad that our 40th army – or, as it was also called, The limited contingent of Soviet troops in Afghanistan showed itself in those difficult war years from the best side, and its soldiers – our boys, boys, officers and generals serving the Soviet army – showed real courage, heroism, courage and devotion to their homeland, which today can be proud of its “Afghan” soldiers.


The Taliban “squeezed” Biden: Washington will help the people of Afghanistan with money

The US President is preparing to unfreeze part of the Afghan cash assets

The US administration has developed a plan to partially “unfreeze” cash accounts belonging to the Bank of Afghanistan. The funds released as a result of the decree – which is expected to be signed by US President Joe Biden in the coming hours – will be distributed in two directions. One part of the funds is intended for the families of the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks, the other is to support the Afghan population. And if in the first case we are talking about an intra-American case in which the US authorities have their own interest, then in the second, what is happening in fact acquires an international scale.

Photo: AP

According to The New York Times, the development of a procedure to “unfreeze” Afghan money has been going on for a long time, even before the Taliban (a terrorist group banned in Russia) came to power in Kabul last year. The original goal of the White House was to pay out the funds owed to the families of the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks, from the assets of the terrorists themselves. But since the latter did not just send money to accounts through an ATM, then even from a legal point of view, the rationale for withdrawing these funds required a long study.

The situation was aggravated by the triumph of the Taliban in August 2021. The militants, who proclaimed themselves the new and only power, of course, took over the Da Afghanistan bank, with which almost all the assets of the Afghan state are connected in one way or another. Some of the funds were already under international sanctions, and the transfer of the country's main banking institution to the control of the Taliban made it almost impossible to withdraw money from there.

In this context, The Guardian, for example, does not hesitate to call the American plan “highly and unusually complicated.” Of course, the details of his United States authorities are kept secret, but the main thing is known: if Biden signs the decree, then about $ 7 billion deposited with the US Federal Reserve Bank in New York will be released.

The decision of the White House to give part of the money to the families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks 20 years after the tragedy was not only the will of the current American leadership: the initiative was long overdue “from below”. So, a few years ago, a group of relatives of victims of a terrorist attack on America won in absentia a case against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda (a terrorist group also banned in Russia), which gave them the right to recover funds. By the way, American legislation is, in principle, quite loyal to such claims, and, apparently, compensation in connection with 9/11 will be paid from various accounts for more than one year.

Obviously, so that the current decree, if signed, does not look like just a nod to the citizens of the United States, Biden intends to send part of the seven billion to some kind of trust fund, from which, under international control, funds will be sent in a precise method – to help the Afghan population, but not the self-proclaimed the Taliban authorities as such. Such a measure is quite logical: even ardent skeptics do not deny that, in the final analysis, we are talking about an amount consisting of both the illegal finances of terrorists and the honestly earned money of law-abiding residents of Afghanistan. This means that they are entitled to their share, albeit provided to them indirectly.

The Taliban, on the other hand, obviously use complex American schemes for their own, much simpler purposes. After the news about the possible signing of the decree by Biden appeared, the resources on which Taliban supporters correspond were already full of messages about the actual recognition of the movement as a legitimate government. But, as already mentioned, we are talking about only part of the Afghan money, which, moreover, will not be transferred to Kabul just like that. However, the media effect for the Taliban has been achieved.

At the same time, some American observers admit that Biden’s move may be hiding a more subtle game aimed at “teasing” the current Afghan leadership and pushing it to new concessions. Such a calculation does not seem too implausible, given the Taliban's accommodating nature in recent months.


Joe Biden misspoke in interview, confusing Afghanistan with Iraq and Ukraine


US President Joe Biden in an interview with NBC called Afghanistan first Ukraine and then Iraq. The American leader confused the countries when answering a question about the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, after a 20-year military campaign.

“We did not have any opportunity to unite Ukraine. That is, excuse me, Iraq. Afghanistan! I emphasize that it was impossible to achieve such results,” Biden said.

Let us recall that after the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, the administration of the current President of America was severely criticized. In particular, they were accused of numerous casualties that occurred during last year's withdrawal of military contingent and civilian personnel from Afghanistan.

Earlier, the former doctor of the US presidents, Ronnie Jackson, along with his colleagues in the Republican Party, called on the head of America, Joseph Biden to follow the example of his predecessor and take the Montreal Cognitive Test.


Zamir Kabulov – RBC: “The situation in Afghanistan is even worse than the UN thinks”

Special Representative of the President of Russia for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov in an interview with RBC assessed the first results of the Taliban rule, the prospects for recognition of the government they created and their exclusion from the terrorist lists of Russia and the UN

Zamir Kabulov

“The Taliban will have to create conditions in the country that are normal for most citizens”

— It has been more than five months since the US left Afghanistan and the Taliban came to power there. (a terrorist organization banned in Russia). The UN noted the dramatic situation in humanitarian terms, the growth of unemployment and the country's dependence on humanitarian aid. Do your assessments of the situation differ from those of the UN?

— No, they don't separate. I think the UN's assessment is somewhat overstated. The situation is actually getting worse. We talked about this more than once in previous months, and not only with your TV channel, but also with others. Here is the most cutting example. Last week, 135 children died in Afghanistan, according to an international organization. From hunger. This is inaccurate information, there is simply no more complete data. I think this example illustrates the situation more vividly than anything else.

— The UN Secretary General's report on Afghanistan says that the Taliban have killed about a hundred representatives of the previous government since coming to power. The Taliban themselves refute this figure, but do not exclude the possibility that revenge killings were possible. Does Moscow have any information in defense of the position of one of the parties?

— In this case, we do not act as either defenders or opponents of either side. We have heard information that we do not have the opportunity to double-check through our own sources. But we are talking about still ongoing civil war, and such things, unfortunately, happen there. I can neither confirm nor exclude this message.


— The Taliban made a number of promises, among which & mdash; overcome drug trafficking, allow women to work and get an education, journalists to work, including criticizing the government. So far, none of this has been implemented. In your estimation, can one rely on the statements of the Taliban government when concluding some kind of agreement with them and be sure that they will keep their promises?

— Let's start with the fact that the Taliban did not promise to overcome drug trafficking, because it is impossible. The whole world has been fighting drug trafficking for the past 30 years— the result is obvious. They promised to fight. This is first. Secondly, we have no plans to conclude any agreements with the Taliban. You are right about one thing: all these promises, if fulfilled, are extremely slow to be fulfilled. On the one hand, the Taliban indeed, in contacts with us and other foreign representatives, promised to intensify the fight against drug trafficking, based primarily on religious beliefs and ideas. But the policy of the US and the West blocked the Afghan national financial resources, disconnected the country's banking system from SWIFT, which makes it impossible to transfer money even to ordinary Afghans, not to mention international organizations, including the UN. This puts people in a situation where there are no sources of income. Therefore, Americans and all Westerners, whether they want it or not, encourage the production of drugs themselves, because it becomes almost the only source of income. We must be clear about this. And any hypocrisy on this score is simply inappropriate. With regard to other humanitarian issues, especially the rights of women and girls, in this area, very slowly, but still, something is happening. Just the other day, holidays were announced in Afghanistan in the winter because of the cold. Schools are not heated, so the school year starts in the spring. And I literally saw yesterday a message that universities will start opening on February 2. For girls will open… but in separate classes with young men. Well, we'll see. This is, of course, a small, but still progress. We said yesterday that the Taliban will have to reckon with these realities, the need to create conditions in the country that are normal for the majority of citizens. But it won't happen quickly.

The Taliban took over Afghanistan in August 2021. The situation in the country escalated with the beginning of the withdrawal of troops of the international coalition led by the United States. After the start of the Taliban offensive, President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, and most cities surrendered without a fight. After seizing power, representatives of the Taliban movement promised that they would ensure the rights and freedoms of women within the framework of Sharia law.

The Taliban allowed women to work and study, but only if they wear a hijab that covers the entire body and face. At the same time, women were forbidden to play sports. Later, the Taliban also banned women from riding in taxis without a hijab and traveling long distances without a male escort.

Photo: Jorge Silva/Reuters

— You mentioned freezing accounts. Is there any progress on this issue?

— There are no big moves. In parts, the Americans release certain amounts, while they put forward conditions to the Taliban administration in Kabul so that the Central Bank of Afghanistan is taken out of government control. But this is a capitulation requirement. That doesn't happen. The Americans have forgotten that they lost the war in Afghanistan, and not vice versa. Therefore, it is not for them to set conditions for surrender. And this is a humiliation for any country when its central bank is under the control of any foreign state, so the Taliban reject this. If the central bank is independent, that is, controlled by the Americans, then they are going to think (this is not yet a promise) how to use its accounts to transfer humanitarian aid, salaries and many other promised deposits, in total more than $ 9.5 billion. some of them were released, but this is a drop in the ocean. This does not solve the humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan.

“The Taliban deservedly are on the UN Security Council sanctions list”

— Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin said it was too early to recognize the Taliban government. What needs to change in order for Moscow to change its position?

— He wasn't the only one who said this. Both the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the President of Russia have repeatedly said that there is a set of demands from the world community— above all, the ethnopolitical inclusiveness of the government. There are representatives of other ethnic groups in the government, but they are all members of the Taliban movement. We do not name names, specific personalities, they themselves must determine. Second— we expect the Taliban to uphold basic human rights norms. First of all, of course, this concerns women, their rights to work and other ordinary civil rights. At the same time, we again do not impose our own Russian views on this issue. There is Afghanistan with its cultural and religious traditions. Similar traditions exist in other Muslim countries, and in Arab countries. They somehow solve and regulate this issue. At least as an example, we can take the experience of other countries. When there is not just progress on this issue, but progress, then the conditions will ripen for the official recognition of the new Afghan authorities.

— On the issue of government inclusiveness, the Taliban have not yet shown much activity. How can this problem be solved?

— We will convince. In addition to our beliefs, which are by and large words, there are realities of life. The Taliban, if they came to Afghanistan seriously and for a long time and want to stay in power, will have to manage the country, and govern the country in the absence of material resources, in the absence of external assistance— not only humanitarian, but also economic assistance to the development and restoration of all branches of life of this state— will not succeed, so this factor will have to be taken into account. If there is common sense and a sense of self-preservation, then they will force them to take the necessary steps.

— In your opinion, is it time to remove the Taliban from the list of terrorist organizations banned in Russia?

— Here I would like to clarify. Yes, he has arrived. But this decision is made by the President of Russia. And there are a number of steps provided for by the legislation of the Russian Federation. My personal point of view— Yes, such a moment is coming, but at the same time we must take into account that the Taliban movement is not a terrorist organization in our country. Although every time I hear it, all the media talk about it. And there is a list of specific individuals with affiliation with the Taliban movement, who are recognized by the UN Security Council as defendants in terrorist lists.

By a 2003 decision of the Supreme Court, the Taliban movement recognized in Russia as terrorist and banned. The decision stated that the movement maintained links with illegal armed groups operating on the territory of Chechnya.

— If we are talking about the UN list, is it time to remove the Taliban from this list and was Russia ready to provide some support in this?

— We have officially spoken about this more than once, that, of course, this moment is approaching, but the speed of its approach to resolution depends on the steps that we have just talked about.

— Nevertheless, would Russia be ready to help the Taliban in this matter, to initiate such a discussion in the UN?

— Then, when the Taliban take convincing steps to fulfill the two demands of the international community— inclusion and basic human rights,— then yes, of course.

— Russian officials at various levels have declared the inadmissibility of turning Afghanistan into a stronghold of international terrorism, but at the same time, the Taliban continue to be on the UN list of terrorist organizations. Could you explain who we consider terrorists in Afghanistan, which groups?

— The Taliban deservedly are on the sanctions list of the UN Security Council for their deeds committed more than 20 years ago. This decision was made then, and now we are dealing with the consequences of that decision. Due to these circumstances, the Taliban were and remain on this list. Although during this time life did not stand still, the Taliban realized many important things, they stopped positioning themselves as an international jihadist organization and were engaged in a purely domestic agenda. As to who [is a terrorist]— yes, the situation created after the flight of the Americans from Afghanistan created favorable conditions for the activation of other, more dangerous ones. Indeed, in the list of international terrorist organizations in the first place is ISIS (a terrorist group banned in Russia.— RBC) and other groups, half a dozen or so smaller, but nevertheless international terrorist organizations that operate in Afghanistan.

But the Taliban, unlike the former Afghan government that fled and the Americans, are really at war with ISIS, they suffer significant losses. But in the absence of funding, when their own Afghan money is frozen in foreign accounts, they cannot even pay salaries to their military personnel to continue their active struggle. Again double standards and hypocrisy. And if someone wanted the Taliban to successfully suppress dangerous international terrorist groups, it was necessary to give them such an opportunity— enhance their respective capabilities.

Photo: Felipe Dana/AP

“The United States continues to develop the idea of ​​​​revenge”

— Recently, there has been much talk about the growing threat of ISIS in Afghanistan and skirmishes between the Taliban and ISIS. How dangerous is this situation and is there, perhaps, some risk of destabilization in the country against this background?

— I already said about these skirmishes in the previous answer: they are fighting for real. There is no danger in this, this is a positive moment. There is another point that I would like to draw attention to: the Taliban are just holding back the expansion of the activities of these international terrorist organizations that threaten neighbors, especially in northern Afghanistan. In addition, we have the impression that the United States, which, understandably, is in a depressing position after it had to leave Afghanistan, has retained and continues to develop the idea in the direction of revenge. They are trying to do everything possible to support the opponents of the Taliban, arm them and enable them to fight against the Taliban. In other words, they sponsor and intend to sponsor the resumption of the civil war on purely ethnic grounds. This is dangerous.

— And how likely is such a scenario?

— This scenario is already working, but the Taliban are suppressing and neutralizing it.

— So you do not exclude the possibility of a new civil war?

— I do not rule out hypothetically the possibility of peace or a new civil war. This will depend on specific cases, not only within Afghanistan, but also on external players. I mentioned one of them. The Americans still cherish the hope in this way, having frightened the neighbors of Afghanistan, to get bases on the territory of these countries in order to offer their services and conditions.

— Tajikistan recently announced the need to create a buffer zone on the border with Afghanistan. Do Moscow consider such proposals justified? Do you see the need to strengthen Russia's security in connection with the situation in Afghanistan?

— First, what kind of buffer zone are we talking about— inside Afghanistan or inside Tajikistan? As far as I understand, Tajikistan has nothing to worry about in this regard— The 201st Russian military base is located in the country. We have active cooperation on a bilateral basis within the framework of the CSTO. From this point of view, everything is fixed there. What does buffer zone mean? Inside Afghanistan to arm people, Afghans, so that they continue the war with each other? I don't think it's in our long-term interest.

— But isn't there a risk of infiltration of militants from Afghanistan to Russia now? Indeed, recently the President of Kazakhstan, Tokayev, said that militants from Afghanistan participated in the January events in the country.

— Such a risk always exists, but I would not exaggerate it. We do not yet know the results of the Kazakh authorities' investigation into the causes of the events that took place there in January. Of course, President Tokayev is probably right when he says that there were fighters from Afghanistan. But these fighters were not sent to this moment. In the south of Kazakhstan, as we knew before and guessed, a lot of Afghans who fled from Afghanistan after the Americans left and the Taliban came to power, who settled down, dug in. Yes, they must have been involved. It was a convenient occasion, perhaps even purely for selfish reasons. But let's wait for the publication of the results of the official investigations of the Kazakh authorities.

“Our embassy is operating as usual”

— You spoke about the possibility of a meeting of an expanded trio until the end of February in Kabul. Tell us what topics are on the agenda.

— Main theme— it is about inclusiveness. What we have just talked about will be discussed, but in more detailed and concrete terms. So far, we are being held back a little by coronavirus restrictions, but nevertheless, we are planning such a meeting in Kabul. In between, we will have the opportunity for other contacts in the run-up to this meeting.

— And what are the prospects for India and Iran to join this format?

— Iran has such an invitation, but refuses to accept it for the time being because it does not want to be in the same format with the United States. As for India, we are in favor, but, however, other partners, I will not specify, object, and in our country all decisions are made by consensus.

As part of the expanded “troika” Afghanistan includes Russia, the US, China and Pakistan. The Moscow format was created on the basis of the six-party consultation mechanism of the special representatives of Russia, Afghanistan, China, Pakistan, Iran and India in 2017.

— Tell us about the situation with the work of the Russian embassy in Afghanistan.

— Our embassy is operating as usual— and, I must stress, works well. All colleagues are well aware of their responsibility, they were absolutely not at a loss in the new conditions, increased momentum, established permanent and reliable contacts both with local authorities, supporting them, and with other Afghans available to them. Therefore, we have no questions for our colleagues at the embassy.

— Do you see the need for new evacuation flights from Afghanistan? And is Russia planning such?

— No. We do not plan such flights yet. But this will depend on the situation and need. As far as the embassy informs us, there is no such need at the moment. We've removed enough of them, and that's enough for now.

— What kind of humanitarian aid is Russia providing to Afghanistan and when is a new delivery of humanitarian cargo scheduled?

— I won't repeat. You tracked, such assistance has already been provided. At the direction of the President of Russia, the sides of the Ministry of Defense, with the participation of the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations, nine aircraft were redeployed in less than two weeks. In parallel, our Chinese and Pakistani partners are providing the same assistance, the Indians have provided assistance— 50 thousand tons of wheat, which is still on the way. At the moment, the leadership of Russia has not set such a task for us. But we understand that this question will inevitably arise due to the circumstances with which we started our conversation.

— And a little personal question. You have been involved in Afghanistan for many years. Have you ever had a desire to try yourself in a different direction or head a Russian diplomatic mission abroad or even Afghanistan— is this your calling?

— I had such offers, but I still preferred to deal with Afghanistan. First, it was in demand, as my management considered. Secondly, this is interesting to me.

Zamir Kabulov (Photo: Ramil Sitdikov/RIA Novosti)

Zamir Kabulov was born in 1954, in 1977 he graduated from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations of the USSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs, then began working at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the USSR.

  • In 1979–1983 he worked at the Consulate General, and then at the Embassy in Iran.
  • In 1983-1987 and from 1991 to 1992 he worked at the embassy in Afghanistan.
  • The period from 1993 to 1996 he spent in Pakistan as an adviser at the Russian embassy.
  • In 1996– In 1998, he was a political adviser to the UN Special Mission in Afghanistan.
  • From 2001 to 2004, he was Deputy Director of the Third Asia Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry and simultaneously served as Executive Secretary of the Interdepartmental Commission on Afghanistan (from 2002 to 2003). He was the Special Representative of the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Afghanistan.
  • He headed the Russian Embassy in Afghanistan in 2004–2009.
  • Since 2009, he has been the Director of the Second Asia Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry.
  • Since 2011— Special Representative of the President of Russia for Afghanistan.

Has a number of state awards, including the Order of Alexander Nevsky and the Order for Personal Courage.

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Kabulov described the situation in Afghanistan as “worse than in the UN report”

Presidential Envoy Kabulov: Situation in Afghanistan 'even worse than UN report' The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan could be even worse than UN reports on the famine in that country, warns Special Presidential Envoy Zamir Kabulov. According to him, there is not enough information about the country

“Bridgehead for new invasions”: the secret of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan is named

Expert: Americans left a “clockwork mine” on Afghan soil

About six months have passed since the fall of Kabul under the onslaught of militants and the evacuation of the last American units from Afghan soil. But what is behind the US withdrawal from Afghanistan? And did they really just leave? President of the Russian section of the International Police Association, Lieutenant General, Doctor of Law, Professor, Honored Lawyer of Russia Yuri Zhdanov spoke about the possible interests of the CIA in Afghanistan.

Photo: AP.

“More like a time bomb. I must say right away that in fact the Americans were not going to leave anywhere. The fact that they were kicked out of Afghanistan is just a technical error for them. And they are already trying to fix it. Of course, not by force – a new military invasion is not yet in sight. And why? There are other benefits of being present, albeit indirect ones. It is known that according to the plans of the CIA and the State Department, Central Asia should become an intelligence base.

– Yes, the Americans themselves are trumpeting about it! Like, oh, how they successfully, on time and profitably left this wild country! True, they do not explain why they went into it for two decades. What did they do there and what did they do specifically? Killing and destruction don't count. But this is outside the brackets. And without brackets – there is an interesting report by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) “Working with Afghanistan controlled by the Taliban (the Taliban movement is recognized in the Russian Federation as a banned terrorist organization – MK”). Support for the Afghan people without legitimizing the regime.” It was published in January. It contains an attempt to form a generalized position of American decision-making centers about US plans for Afghanistan. By Lisa Curtis, Senior Fellow and Director of the Indo-Pacific Security Program at CNAS, formerly of the CIA, State Department, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, etc.

– A concentrated analysis of the situation in a number of Central Asian countries and possible conclusions. This should help make some decisions that the US needs.

More specifically, it says, for example, about preventing a humanitarian catastrophe after the collapse of the Afghan economy. After all, the Americans, as stated, intend to cooperate with the Afghan people, but not with the Taliban (banned in the Russian Federation). Like, they will somehow help.

In mid-November 2021, a UN official reported that 23 million Afghans were in desperate need of food and that 97 percent of the 38 million population was at risk of falling into poverty. The economic shock from the loss of international aid that supported 75 percent of the Afghan budget – along with several years of drought and other economic problems – threatens a complete economic collapse that will leave millions of people starving, especially in winter. The International Monetary Fund has warned that the country's economy will shrink by about 30 percent in 2022.

As of mid-January 2022, the United States has provided $782 million in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan and Afghan refugees, more than any other country.

– Yes, the Taliban (“Taliban” is a terrorist organization banned in the Russian Federation) sent a letter to the US Congress asking the United States to release the declared $ 7 billion in Afghan foreign exchange reserves, which were frozen after the Taliban seized power, otherwise they risk facing a mass exodus of refugees from the country. In the letter, the Taliban government's foreign minister, Amir Khan Muttaki, says the holding of assets has disrupted trade and business, as well as the delivery of humanitarian aid to the population.

– Most likely. Jesuitically, the report said that the country was facing an economic crisis before the assets were frozen, and that Washington had made it clear that non-humanitarian aid would be cut off if the Taliban seized power by force rather than through peace talks. And so it happened.

By the way, the recent meeting in Moscow of several regional states did not lead to the adoption of any serious commitments to provide assistance. The countries issued a communiqué calling for an international donors conference under the auspices of the UN, so that “the military forces that have been in the country for the past 20 years” – that is, the United States, take on most of the financial burden.

– They are very concerned. Initial signs that the Taliban could improve their record of women's rights have not materialized. Ten days after coming to power, the Taliban ordered women to stay at home until ordinary members of the organization were instructed on how to properly treat women. Young women who organized and participated in local protests against Taliban rule were abducted and killed in Mazar-i-Sharif.

The US report notes that the Taliban backtracked on initial promises to respect women's rights in order to maintain cohesion among their fighters. Otherwise, the rank-and-file members of the militant structures would doubt the leadership of their leaders and would ask what they have been fighting for for 20 years. The Taliban also failed to deliver on their initial promises of amnesty for former government officials. At the end of August 2021, the BBC reported that they had executed two high-ranking police officers. According to the report, more than 100 people have been killed since August 15, two-thirds of them by the Taliban and their supporters.

The document also contains information about extrajudicial executions of at least 50 people suspected of belonging to terrorist group “Islamic State” banned in Russia.

– Yes, and the so-called Haqqani network, which is closely connected both with Al-Qaeda (a terrorist organization banned in the Russian Federation) and with the Pakistani military and intelligence services, plays a particularly significant role. Najibullah Haqqani is Minister of Communications and Abdul Baqi Haqqani is Minister of Higher Education, which is a bad sign for future educational opportunities for women and girls. Khalil ur-Rahman Haqqani, who was originally appointed to lead security operations in Kabul shortly after the Taliban came to power, is now the refugee minister. This is particularly worrisome given fears that foreign terrorist fighters will now flock to Afghanistan as their fellow radicals are in power there. Another character, Sirajuddin Haqqani, the leader of an organization designated as terrorist by the United States, has been appointed Minister of the Interior. The FBI has released a Rewards for Justice program that is offering $5 million for information leading to the arrest of Sirajuddin Haqqani due to his role in terrorist attacks against American citizens.

In general, twenty out of thirty-three high-ranking officials are on the UN sanctions list. Among them is the head of the current interim government, Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, who was foreign minister and then deputy prime minister when the Taliban were in power in the late 1990s. After the organization was ousted from power in 2001, Akhund led the Taliban's military operations in Afghanistan from his hideout in Pakistan. The list goes on.

– Hardly, although such proposals are heard, including from Pakistan.

While the Taliban's efforts to eliminate the ISIS-Khorasan threat are welcome, the Taliban's continued ties to al-Qaeda and dozens of other terrorist groups mean that the Taliban's consolidation of power in Afghanistan over will continue to help revive the terrorist haven, even if ISIS-X is no longer part of the terrorist alliance.

President Biden is right that al-Qaeda has metastasized over the past decade. However, the current situation in Afghanistan gives the terrorist group a unique advantage: Afghanistan is now ruled by an Islamist group with which al-Qaeda has been associated for 30 years. The two groups also became closely related through intermarriage. No other country in the world offers al-Qaeda such a luxury.

“In the past, the US has relied on Pakistan for air and ground access to Afghanistan and for drone attacks. Pakistan allowed this activity, although Washington and Islamabad had fundamentally different goals in Afghanistan. However, while an air access agreement with Pakistan would be necessary, Washington should not fall into the familiar trap of viewing the country as a partner in counterterrorism or a shared US goal in Afghanistan.

Pakistan narrowly assesses its strategic interests in Afghanistan, viewing them mainly through the prism of India. The main goal of Islamabad is to prevent India from gaining a foothold in the country as a strategic foothold. The best example of the irreconcilable goals of Islamabad and Washington in Afghanistan is Pakistan's support for the Haqqani network and the desire to see members of the Haqqani clan in leadership positions in the Taliban government. Islamabad trusts the Haqqanis to support their goal of preventing India from gaining influence in Afghanistan.

– Russia, Iran and China share US concerns about ISIS-X, but each of these countries’ broader geopolitical differences with the United States will likely prevent serious counterterrorism cooperation with Washington.

In November In 2021, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Tom West took part in a meeting in Islamabad of the so-called “Troika Plus”, which includes the United States, Pakistan, Russia and China. These meetings may be useful in resolving the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, but they are unlikely to bring about positive changes in the Taliban's behavior towards human rights and the fight against terrorism.

The US report argues that there is room for increased US counterterrorism cooperation with Central Asian countries, especially Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, so that Washington can reduce dependence on Pakistan. While Russia and China will object to the United States establishing large military bases in their “backyard”, it is possible that Uzbekistan and Tajikistan will agree to increased intelligence sharing or the deployment of small groups of US special operations forces on their territory.

Let me remind you that both Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan have contributed to the delivery of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan and are ready to play a more important role in this area.

While China has gloated over the withdrawal and hasty evacuation of the United States from the country, Beijing is concerned that Afghanistan is once again becoming a safe haven for terrorists around the world, as well as the possibility of Islamist extremism spreading to China's Muslim-populated western provinces. Beijing has historically been concerned about anti-Chinese Islamist militants, primarily ethnic Uyghurs who have trained alongside the Taliban and have taken refuge in both Afghanistan and the tribal areas bordering Pakistan in the past.

China has a long-term interest in making Afghanistan a key hub for its One Belt, One Road economic project and in developing and exploiting Afghanistan's rich mineral resources. However, a Chinese consortium's $3 billion investment in Afghanistan's Mes Ainak copper mine has been dormant for more than a decade, and China will avoid future investment until the security situation stabilizes.

In September 2021, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid called China Afghanistan's most important partner given its willingness to invest in and rebuild the country. So far, however, China has been reluctant to assume financial obligations to the Taliban government, which is not recognized by the rest of the world.

– Almost the same. India's biggest concern is that a Taliban victory will inspire anti-India militants, now mostly based in Pakistan. These groups are responsible for attacks on Indian soil in recent years that have increased tensions with Pakistan and led to military crises between the two nuclear powers.

The most recent military crisis between India and Pakistan occurred after the February 14, 2019 terrorist attack by an Islamist militant that killed 40 Indian soldiers in Indian-controlled Kashmir. India has also experienced major terrorist attacks on its embassy and consulates in Afghanistan by the Haqqani network.

India held a meeting of regional national security advisers in New Delhi in early November 2021. Pakistan and China, who do not welcome a more prominent Indian role in Afghanistan, missed the meeting.

– According to the author of the report, in order to cope with the threat of terrorism, the United States should invest in improving the technology of unmanned aerial vehicles for foreign CTOs.

The US military should be ready for the foreseeable future to conduct drone operations from bases in the Middle East , because Pakistan and the Central Asian states bordering Afghanistan fear that the US will carry out deadly operations from their territory.

It is recommended to expand cooperation on CTO with the states of Central Asia, especially with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

There are opportunities, the author believes, to expand the exchange of intelligence data, conduct counterintelligence trainings and other joint counterintelligence activities with the states of Central Asia. In the long term, it is possible that the Central Asian states may allow the United States to deploy intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets on their territory, or even allow limited CTOs to be carried out by special operations forces from the region.

The reporter regrets that the leadership of the military and intelligence in some Central Asian countries tend to be skeptical of the Taliban due to concerns about the group's continued ties to terrorism.

If the Central Asian states become more open to U.S. counterterrorism activities deployed from their territory, Americans should be prepared to distribute counterterrorism assets across the region that could act in concert to address threats while reducing dependence on a single base option.

The author of the report, an experienced CIA and State Department official, applied an interesting term – “to carry out their deeds action with eyes wide open. And he directly formulated the main goal – to turn Central Asia into a giant US intelligence base. And in aggregate – a springboard for new invasions.


Taliban-style inclusiveness: the first female leaders under the new government appeared in Afghanistan

Amusement parks will no longer have firearms

The Taliban (a terrorist group banned in Russia) who seized power in Afghanistan last summer continue to fight for international recognition as the leading force in the state. According to the Taliban, they have already made several important appointments in line with the expectations of the world community, and continue their course to reduce tensions in the unstable republic.

Photo: AP

The issue of gender equality in Afghanistan has always, even in the most peaceful times for the country, been relevant to one degree or another, but with the advent of the Taliban to power, it has become especially acute. The capture of Afghan cities by the Taliban was accompanied by numerous reports of violence against the female part of the population (including young girls), the flourishing of sexual slavery, etc.

Representatives of the movement denied the accusations, human rights activists sounded the alarm, and Western officials said that the Taliban were must prove, not in words, but in deeds, that he is ready to give up his radical attitudes.

The first steps were taken already in 2021: women were allowed to work and study subject to mandatory clothing requirements, and even play sports, though , with an essential caveat — we are talking only about those competitions in which bare parts of the body are not visible.

Hope for a genuine “reformatting” Taliban ideology was also given the promise of the movement to form an inclusive government, with the involvement of the fairer sex. However, it hung in the air for a long time. In mid-January, the Taliban declared that he was fulfilling the requirements of the international community, which allegedly gives him the right to official recognition. However, judging by the reaction of external players, this was not enough. At the end of last month, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, speaking to the organization's Security Council, announced the killings of more than a hundred officials and security officials loyal to the former Afghan authorities by the Taliban. The movement had to again refute these words and come up with new moves for its legitimation.

First, the Taliban leadership announced a complete ban on carrying firearms in amusement parks. As you know, the Mujahideen rarely appear without machine guns, which, to put it mildly, does not give confidence either to the population of the country or to those who observe Afghan life on the footage of news agencies. Last year, footage of the Taliban getting on the rides spread around the world: stern-looking armed men on playgrounds at least caused alarm.

“It is forbidden to enter amusement parks with weapons, in military uniform” vehicles. The Mujahideen are obliged to comply with all the rules and regulations of amusement parks, — noted in this regard the official speaker of the Taliban Zabiullah Mujahid.

The next step of the Taliban leadership turned out to be even more resonant. It became known that the movement nevertheless decided to implement the principle of gender inclusiveness in leadership positions. So, responsible posts were given to two women at once. However, we are still not talking about positions in the interim government or, for example, in parliament.

“Dr. Malalai Rakhim has been appointed director of the specialized maternity hospital” Malalai ” — the only obstetric and gynecological institution of its kind in the whole country. <…> Dr. Aryan was appointed director of the (gynecological) clinic in Shahrar (one of the districts of Kabul. — "MK")», — Mujahid reported.

Both medical facilities are located in the Afghan capital, so the number of patients there is the highest: women come from all over the country, as qualified specialists are sometimes simply impossible to find in a number of provinces. This leads to the fact that the problem of mortality during childbirth, despite a steady decline in indicators (according to the UN, in 20 years the number of deaths has been more than halved), remains one of the main problems for Afghanistan. Of the one hundred thousand children who are born in the country, about six hundred — they die as soon as they are born.

Although doctors Rakhim and Arina have received leadership positions only in the capital's medical institutions, this is a serious step forward from the Taliban, who did not allow women to such posts. The question is whether the slow, but “desocratization” will not turn out to be Taliban bluff.

Simultaneously with the announcement of new appointments, Zabiullah Mujahid promised progress in another area. According to him, the interim government intends to revive the activities of a special commission investigating violations in the media. Afghanistan traditionally ranks at the bottom of press freedom ratings, which worries human rights activists no less than the lack of gender equality. Moreover, according to Reporters Without Borders, in connection with the mass closure of a number of Afghan media, it was women who suffered the most, accounting for about 80% of all those who lost their jobs in this area. Against this background, the statement about the resuscitation of the special commission really sounds promising.

All this, however, does not promise immediate recognition of the Taliban government by the world. Russia and the collective West are now too busy solving the Ukrainian problem, and the steps of the Taliban, despite the obvious media effect, are still rather demonstrative in nature, and do not indicate fundamental systemic changes.


The number of suicide battalions in Afghanistan was revealed: “Taliban sell passports”

Supporters are passed off as refugees

Taliban representatives announced the creation of a suicide battalion, which will be part of the Afghan army and will operate under the Ministry of Defense.

MK learned how many people are in these battalions, where they come from and why the Taliban stage suicide parades.

Suicide parade in Afghanistan Photo: Still from video

Naimi Ahmad Shoaib, a native of Panjshir province, is an economist and supporter of the Afghan National Resistance Front. The man works in Russia. But he keeps in touch with his compatriots, through whom he receives information about the situation at home.

– The creation of suicide battalions, which was officially announced by the so-called Ministry of Defense, is only the beginning of the horror that awaits the whole world, – says Ahmad. “After all, the Taliban began to actively “export” their supporters to different countries, issuing them Afghan passports.

– According to the latest information, more than 2,500 people have already gathered there. And it's not just the citizens of Afghanistan. Among the suicide bombers there are people from all over the world. The creation of battalions will lead to catastrophic consequences throughout the world.

– To attract people to the suicide battalions, different methods are used. People can be found wherever there is poverty and war. As a rule, young people are recruited there from poor, illiterate families who do not understand what is happening in the world. Juveniles are often kidnapped. Then they are trained in specially prepared secret camps. Teenagers are cut off from the outside world. And they put one thought in their head: for you, the only goal in life is to become a suicide bomber. They also attract fanatics, who can be found everywhere.

“Women demand freedom, food and work. They get a bullet in the forehead”

— In the houses of activists who went to rallies, the Taliban conduct raids. The media wrote that a lot of women were abducted in January. They were beaten, raped and killed. A week ago, the Taliban kidnapped two activists in Kabul. Their fate is unknown. They sent me a video of this kidnapping. The girl screams in horror: “Help!” And who will help her when the militants broke into the house and took the activist along with her sisters? Thus, the Taliban want to silence any protests. In addition to activists, university teachers who do not want to cooperate with the current government also disappear.

A large rally of Panjshir residents after an innocent young man was killed Photo: Still from video

“They understand that if they stay at home, their families will die of hunger. There are no working women left in the country. Girls were also banned from going to school. Therefore, they decided for themselves: if they die anyway, it’s better to do something. Activists ask for little: freedom, food and work. In response, they receive a bullet in the forehead, torture, humiliation, abductions. Therefore, they turn to the world for help. After all, today we are suffering, and tomorrow your turn will come.

— The topic of humanitarian aid remains relevant to this day. The Taliban are getting it. Then they come to this or that province and say: we will distribute aid to 200 people. But of that number, 150 are the Taliban themselves. The remaining fifty people are residents of the province, but there should not be Hazaras and Panjshirs among them, because they resist and refuse to cooperate with the current government.

Everything continues. The Taliban even in Kabul, under various pretexts, break into the houses of the locals, kill the owners or take them away in an unknown direction. They call such purges “the fight against terrorists.” But they kill former Afghan servicemen – both men and women. Then they are declared bandits. They do not rest on this. The bodies of the dead are transported through the streets of the city.

Now even the Pashtuns, who were on the side of the Taliban, are going over to the side of the people. That is, the Taliban are against the Taliban. In one province, protests by some members of the Taliban movement against the Taliban themselves lasted for several days. The uprising was brutally crushed. A battalion of suicide bombers was sent to the city to hold a so-called suicide parade there. Now, if there is a rally somewhere, the Taliban hold such parades there to intimidate.

“Those who have money and connections can leave the country”

– Unemployment and poverty in the country has reached more than 90 percent. But the locals are not allowed to get a job. It is known that the Taliban is patronized by Pakistan. Their prime minister said he was ready to send his specialists to Afghanistan. As a result, citizens of our country are fired from everywhere under any pretext. And people from other states now work in different structures and support them. They do not understand the local language, culture, but they are provided with jobs. They are given housing that is taken from the locals. Thus, the Taliban are conducting a purge, they want to populate the country with those who support them.

– They really say this, but I will tell you how things are with corruption in reality. For example, the sale of Afghan passports has now intensified. The Taliban sell passports to both our citizens and others. For example, in Afghanistan, a passport is received on a first-come, first-served basis. First you write an application. To be accepted, you need to deposit $200. To sign – still pay. It costs money to get the passport itself. Ultimately, for the average person, obtaining a passport costs between $1,000 and $2,000. The Taliban are cashing in where possible.

– That's it, live without a passport.

– No, the former government has a lot of old passports that people did not have time to pick up. The Taliban have not yet printed new passports. And with a Taliban passport, a person is unlikely to be allowed into another country. Therefore, they use old passports, which they also distribute to their supporters from different countries.

– So that they, under the guise of refugees, get into other countries and propagate their policies there. Now you can't filter out whether it's a refugee or a Taliban.

– Only those who have big connections and a lot of money can leave.

“War is inevitable”

– I can say with confidence that a large-scale war in the country is inevitable. Representatives of the resistance have already announced that they will launch an offensive in the spring. So far, a guerrilla war is going on in the country against the invaders and terrorists. And the Taliban are losing. They are attacked daily. Therefore, in order to resist our people, they recruit people from different countries into their ranks. They don't care where they come from. You just need to increase the army to prepare for war.

– Without a doubt. Basically, these are citizens from Arab countries, Central Asia, Pakistan, and some from Russia. Well, imagine if the Taliban have already recruited more than 2,000 suicide bombers. They need to increase their numbers in order for the world to recognize them. I won't be surprised if the Taliban legalize the supply of drugs in the near future. There is nothing to steal and take away in the country. In order to somehow stay afloat, it remains to support drug dealers. The Taliban have done this before, but now the trade will be on a larger scale.

Yes, but the Taliban themselves are calm about this. After all, in the world, in fact, no one is worried about what is happening there. There are even some negotiations with them.

This is because other countries do not want to see someone else's pain until the problem knocks on their door.

– According to various sources, there are a maximum of up to 70 thousand people. Not so much. It is clear that they are helping. They still get their money from somewhere.

“They're like ghosts”

– The life of the leadership of this movement is not known to anyone. What is going on with them, where these people come from – there is no reliable data. They seem to invent biographies for themselves. For example, they name the provinces where they were born. But locals from those regions have never heard of their families. The most public person is their press secretary. He told where he came from. But they don't remember him either. If tomorrow something happens not according to their plan, they will disappear in an instant, as if they never existed. The same thing happened in 2001, when they all disappeared somewhere, and then reappeared. They are like ghosts.

—Before the capture of Afghanistan, our pilots managed to take out about 50 American helicopters to other countries. Now the Taliban are asking for the return of the helicopters. For intimidation, battalions of suicide bombers were sent to the border of Tajikistan. They set up a parade there. But no one returned the helicopters to them.

– Of course not. They “play” with them. There is a video of them flying in the same helicopter, and then it crashed and exploded. That's the whole flight. As far as I know, they sold the rest of the helicopters for parts. Weapons are also sold on the black market in Pakistan and Iran – this was shown in the reports. They need money, they make money on everything.

– The Taliban themselves post videos of torture of people on the Web. They are proud of their “feats”. In my opinion, these are mentally ill people.

– One day they showed several hours how parades of suicide bombers were held. It has become their “trick”. Every day there is propaganda that everything is done for the good of the people. The man who is at the head of the Taliban Interior Ministry said that he rewarded the suicide bombers and their families – they were allocated plots of land, pledged to support them financially.

Now our people are suffering, and few people care about this. No one sees or wants to see all the horror. People will remember how we asked to stop this madness when this whole nightmare spreads to other countries.


Uzbek Taliban militants rally in Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, Uzbek militants of the Taliban movement (an organization banned in the Russian Federation) took to the streets against the actions of the group's leadership in another province. The reason for the protest in the city of Maymen (Faryab province) was the detention of the field commander, an ethnic Uzbek, Makhdum Alyam. The Taliban detained him in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif (Balkh province) on suspicion of kidnapping three women.

The protesters demanded the immediate release of their colleague. The Pashtun nationalists have reportedly left Maymene and the village under the control of the Uzbek community.

According to the Directorate 4 Telegram channel, the Taliban confirmed the protests and noted that they had settled the differences with the demonstrators.


Antonov linked protests in Kazakhstan with US flight from Afghanistan

The protests in Kazakhstan, which escalated into major riots, occurred after the flight of the United States from Afghanistan, the actions of Washington led to the development of extremist ideas in the region. This was stated by the Russian ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov.

According to him, Kazakhstan has come under attack from radicals professing a misanthropic ideology. The ambassador noted that thousands of jihadists and looters tried to undermine the constitutional order in Kazakhstan, used weapons against civilians, and also caused damage to state and private property.

“ I will note that all this happens after the American flight from Afghanistan and the rapid development against this background of extremist ideas and trends in the region '', & mdash; said Antonov.

The material is being supplemented

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Zakharova commented on the “second Afghanistan” in Kazakhstan: “Shameless”


the situation in Kazakhstan. Thus, in a number of media outlets and on social networks, opinions are published according to which “ the introduction of Russian troops into Kazakhstan '' will turn out to be a 'second Afghanistan' for Moscow.

'They forgot, shameless, that the' second Afghanistan ' they already called Syria, '' Zakharova said in her Telegram channel.

She suggested that political opponents “ better remember the Capitol, '' which the Americans tried to storm at the beginning of last year due to disagreement with the presidential election results. Zakharova suggested that this recollection “ would be unpleasant for the liberals, '' since then “ the American government brutally suppressed '' protest.

In addition, the representative of the Foreign Ministry recalled, the Russian military was sent to Kazakhstan as part of the CSTO mission, which had previously decided to provide assistance to the Kazakh authorities in connection with the riots.

& quot; The decision was made collectively, – Zakharova emphasized, – in response to a request from the legitimate authorities of Kazakhstan. ”


The political scientist called the US flight from Afghanistan the biggest failure of the year

“Blinken is the anti-hero of the rating of politicians”

On the eve of the new year, it is fashionable to make a rating of the most important events of the outgoing year, as well as to remind what statements and deeds have been noted by world politicians over the year. For example, the American publication Politico has published its rating of failed predictions for 2021. The well-known American political scientist Dmitry Drobnitsky commented on it.


According to the American edition, those politicians and political scientists who promised a painless withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan missed the most. Such predictions boiled down to the following: “ The US withdrawal from Afghanistan will in no way resemble the flight from Saigon (the capital of South Vietnam, hastily abandoned by the Americans in 1975. & ndash; MK '' ), everything will go smoothly , the Taliban (banned in the Russian Federation. & ndash; MK ) will not seize power in the foreseeable future. ”

In fact, things went wrong. Videos from Kabul airport in which poor Afghans, clinging to the wheels of the landing gear of departing American transport planes, fell and crashed on the runway, went around the world. As Dmitry Drobnitsky wrote on his Telegram channel, this event deserves first place & nbsp; in the Failure of the Year nomination.

“ This is a live disaster, & ndash; he noted. & ndash; … It is obvious that from that moment on they ceased to be afraid of Sher Khan. The sacred power of the United States faded by several stellar values ​​at once. '' Anthony Blinken wins by a wide margin (US Secretary of State. & ndash; “ MK '' ). “ In 2021, Anthony Blinken was the most dangerous man in world politics, & ndash; noted Drobnitsky. & ndash; If he had not been restrained, he would almost certainly have unleashed a war, some kind of & ndash; another or more. ''

According to the Russian political scientist, Blinken must leave. “ Then there will be hope for at least a minimal adequacy of the White House '', & ndash; the expert believes.

He gave his forecast for 2022, including in connection with the new proposals of Russia in the field of security. In his opinion, the United States and NATO “ took the issue into cotton wool and will definitely try to wind up on the procedure. ''

“ All three centers of power will have difficulties and difficulties (Russia, USA, China. & Ndash; “ MK '' ). & ndash; As well as they have their own advantages and unique resources. Moscow, Beijing and Washington have just begun to master the planet at a new technological level. On this path, tough competition is inevitable. Therefore, in the coming 2022, we wish our diplomats and military to agree that this competition remains & nbsp; albeit tense, but mostly peaceful. ''


Experts told why Turkey should strengthen its position in Afghanistan

And why it is dangerous for Russia

Turkey and Qatar plan to operate five airports in Afghanistan, including the airport in Kabul. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced this. According to the Turkish Foreign Minister, on December 22, the parties plan to discuss this issue with the Taliban leadership (the organization is under UN sanctions, is recognized as terrorist in Russia, its activities are prohibited).

Kabul airport during the Taliban attack on the city. Photo:

After being badly damaged during the evacuation of thousands of people from Afghanistan and an explosion on August 26, Ankara and Doha helped restore the operation of the international airport in Kabul. Recently, the countries announced their intention to continue cooperation on the operation of the air harbor.

Such “friendship” is in its own way beneficial to both the Turks and Afghanistan, military expert Yuri Lyamin believes. The same cannot be said about Russia.

– The interest of the Taliban in this is obvious. After the departure of the Americans and the flight after them of many specialists trained by them, there was a serious shortage of equipment and personnel in the airport service sector. The help from Turkey and Qatar, of course, would be very useful to them now. This is also important for the common population, because the delivery of humanitarian aid depends on the operation of airports. The country is landlocked and all shipments are made by air.

– Turkey and Qatar, on the one hand, need it for political weight. Show that they are supportive. Here the Americans abandoned everything and left, but Turkey remained and provides assistance. They need to stake out a place, roughly speaking, in order to continue to have influence in Afghanistan. And to demonstrate their good will to the whole world.

– Considering that any flights that go from Turkey to Afghanistan are still carried out through other countries, it all depends on the agreement with these countries.

– For Russia, the very fact of Turkey's strengthening in the region is not the best scenario for the development of events, of course. The struggle for influence in Afghanistan between the countries will intensify in the coming years. Most likely it will be quiet, but it will walk.

Russian religious scholar, historian of religion and Islamic scholar Roman Silantyev, professor of the Department of World Culture at Moscow State Linguistic University, agrees with the opinion of a military expert.

– Turkey, having enlisted the support of its longtime ally Qatar, wants to expand its influence and become the main Muslim country, it seems to me. Saudi Arabia has now greatly subsided in this regard, and Turkey may well claim the status of the main center not only of the Turkic peoples, but also of the main Muslim country. By the way, once in the format of the Ottoman Empire, Turkey was such, and Islam was primarily associated with Istanbul and Turkey. Afghanistan was once also part of its sphere of influence. Erdogan wants to revive the Ottoman Empire, this can be seen with the naked eye.

This is definitely not a good thing for us. Turkey is not our friend. As we remember, the history of relations with the Ottoman Empire in Russia was mainly military. We have not fought with anyone as often as with them, and it is possible that this could happen again.


“It has become dangerous to live in Afghanistan”: details of the evacuation of citizens by Russian Aerospace Forces

The MK correspondent visited the Kabul airport for the first time under the new government

On the night of December 19, three military transport aircraft landed at the Chkalovsky airport near Moscow and flew to Kabul and back … The MK correspondent accompanied the humanitarian flight and for the first time visited Afghanistan, where the government changed this year.

Photo: Lina Korsak

On the eve of our planes delivered 36 tons of humanitarian aid to the Kabul airport. They brought food – rice, flour, sugar, as well as the necessary medicines. Everything was handed over to the Afghan authorities and will be distributed among those in need.

The situation at the Kabul airport was quite calm. And, if according to the stories of colleagues, back in August, near the territory of the airport, shots were heard, now the silence is disturbed only by the roar of aircraft, which, it should be noted, run continuously. These are mainly flights from the United Arab Emirates and Turkey.

Deputy Minister of Emergency Situations of Afghanistan Gulyam Gauss Naseri thanked the Russian Federation for the assistance provided to the Afghan people.

“First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to the Russian Federation and, in particular, the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Emergencies, which participated in the formation and delivery of this humanitarian cargo for our country,” he said. – First of all, aid will be directed to meet the needs of the poor.

Regarding the very socio-economic situation in Afghanistan, the official spokesman added that it remains difficult so far.

“Winter is approaching, so medicines and food delivered from Russia are of vital importance to the Afghan people. I hope that they will allow people to survive this difficult time.

Russian Ambassador to Afghanistan Dmitry Zhirnov noted that this is the third large landing with humanitarian supplies from Russia since November.

– In total in Afghanistan has delivered more than 100 tons of humanitarian aid, – said the ambassador.

After operational unloading – landing of evacuees. This is almost 200 people. Mostly citizens of Russia, including those of Afghan origin, and citizens of Kyrgyzstan. Afghan students studying at Russian universities were also removed from Kabul.

The Ministry of Defense noted that this is the fourth evacuation since August 26 of this year, organized by order of Russian President Vladimir Putin by military transport aircraft of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation from Afghanistan.

Before boarding, all passengers were screened with the help of metal detectors and frame-scanners specially installed near the aircraft. Their personal belongings and luggage were also carefully checked.

In addition, the planes delivered medical and nursing teams of military medics with the necessary equipment and medicines to the capital of Afghanistan. A supply of drinking water, food and warm blankets was formed to ensure the flight of evacuees.

– I am very grateful that Russia did not leave us, – Abdurahim, a native of Kandahar, is unable to hide his emotions. – After the Taliban came to power (the Taliban is an organization under UN sanctions and is banned in the Russian Federation. – MK), it became very dangerous to live in Afghanistan.

The man said that seven years ago he came to Moscow study and work. Soon he started a family and received a Russian passport. Before the change of power in his native country, he came to visit relatives twice a year. Two months ago, despite the turbulent situation, he risked flying to Afghanistan to visit his mother. I traveled through Tajikistan. However, I could not fly back to Russia on my own.

On the night of December 19, after an intermediate landing at the airfields of Gissar (Tajikistan) and Kant (Kyrgyzstan), the planes with evacuated citizens landed at the Chkalovsky military airfield near Moscow.

MK will tell you more about the humanitarian mission of the Russian Aerospace Forces in the following reports.

Moscow – Kabul – Moscow.


Permanent Representative of Russia to the CSTO assessed the risks of weapons abandoned by the US and NATO in Afghanistan


The weapons abandoned in Afghanistan by NATO and the United States pose uncontrollable risks. This was stated by the Ambassador-at-Large, Permanent Representative of Russia to the CSTO.

The Russian diplomat clarified that a large number of modern weapons remained in Afghanistan, which were left by the soldiers of the coalition forces who fled the country.

Recall that in August, The Mirror reported that after the American military left Afghanistan, many weapons remained in the country. This allowed the Taliban (a terrorist organization banned in Russia) to become one of the most equipped terrorist armies in the world.


Airplanes with people evacuated from Afghanistan flew to Russia


The press service of the Ministry of Defense said that the planes with citizens of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus evacuated from Kabul, Armenia and Afghanistan have landed at the Chkalovsky airfield near Moscow.

At the moment, passengers are undergoing anti-epidemic and customs control.

Recall that the evacuation was organized on behalf of Vladimir Putin. The department of Sergei Shoigu created an air group, which included three military transport aircraft. The aircraft delivered 36 tons of humanitarian cargo and necessary medical equipment to Afghanistan.

Recall that the previous Russian evacuation flight from Afghanistan took place on August 25.


Women in Afghanistan

Women in Afghanistan

© AiF/Georgy Zotov

© AiF/Georgy Zotov

© AiF/Georgy Zotov

© AiF/Georgy Zotov

© AiF/Georgy Zotov

© AiF/Georgy Zotov

© AiF/Georgy Zotov

© AiF/Georgy Zotov

© AiF/Georgy Zotov

© AiF/Georgy Zotov

© AiF/Georgy Zotov

© AiF/Georgy Zotov

© AiF/Georgy Zotov

© AiF/Georgy Zotov

© AiF/Georgy Zotov

© AiF/Georgy Zotov

© AiF/Georgy Zotov

© AiF/Georgy Zotov


Schoolgirls in Afghanistan to resume their studies in March 2022

Afghan schoolgirls will resume their studies after the winter break next March, TASS reports, citing a spokesman for the & nbsp; Ministry of Education in the interim government of the radical Taliban movement. (banned in Russia).

Nazar Mohammad Erfan clarified that now in many provinces of the country, educational institutions are closed for the winter.

“ We plan to resume education of girls in secondary schools as usual in the month of Hamal [March 21 – April 20] & raquo ;, & ndash; he said.

The spokesman also added that the department plans to bring the educational process “ in line with the provisions of Islam. ''

Recall that the new authorities intend to introduce separate education in Afghanistan. Separate classes for boys and girls will be created in the country.

Earlier, UN Secretary General António Guterres called on the world community to defend the rights of women around the world, including in Afghanistan. According to him, girls in this republic should receive education, and women should work and participate in public life.


UN announced the presence of IS in almost all provinces of Afghanistan

The UN envoy to Afghanistan said that representatives of the IS cell are located in almost all provinces of the country and “are becoming more active.” She noted that the Taliban are not able to resist the strengthening of the group

The Taliban in power in Afghanistan; (a terrorist group banned in Russia) is unable to resist the expansion of the Islamic State terrorist group; (IG, banned in Russia) on the territory of the country. The head of the UN mission in Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons, announced this at a meeting of the UN Security Council, reports Reuters.

'Another negative development is the Taliban's failure stop the spread of the Islamic State, & mdash; she said.

According to her, now representatives of IS-Khorasan (an offshoot of the Islamic State operating in Afghan territory) is present in almost all provinces and is becoming increasingly active.

At the same time, Lyons noted that the Taliban in the fight against IS use extrajudicial arrests and killings of those whom the Taliban suspects of links with the Islamic State.

The envoy also said that the deteriorating economic situation in Afghanistan could lead to an increase in the illegal trade in drugs, weapons and people. “ The continued paralysis of the banking sector will push the financial system towards the shadow exchange of money, which will only contribute to terrorism, human trafficking and drug smuggling, '' & mdash; she thinks.

In turn, Russia's Permanent Representative to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, said that the arrival of Taliban representatives to power did not bring stability to Afghanistan, and new challenges were added to the old problems. “ The new reality that was established in Afghanistan after August 15 did not bring either the Afghans themselves or the international community closer to stabilizing the country, creating on its territory a peaceful, indivisible and free from drugs and crime state. New challenges, connected primarily with the lack of international recognition, '', & mdash; he said.

The Taliban launched an offensive against Afghan government forces after the United States announced the withdrawal of its military contingent from Afghanistan. On August 15, the Taliban captured the country's capital, Kabul, and announced the end of the war with government forces. On the same day, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country. The Taliban called the restoration of the Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan, a general amnesty and the cessation of drug production as the main directions of their policy.

The Russian side previously promised to support the Taliban in their plans to combat terrorism and eradicate drugs. At the same time, Russian President Vladimir Putin pointed out that the Taliban it won't be easy stop drug trafficking.

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What is known about the new opponents of the Taliban in Afghanistan

In the province of Laghman in Afghanistan, unknown people announced the fight against members of the terrorist movement Taliban, banned in Russia. What is known about them, as well as the fate of those who previously challenged the Taliban – in the RBC video


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‘Everything I am would not be the same without being a veteran,’ says soldier who served in Afghanistan

“MuiTypography-root-133 MuiTypography-h1-138″>'Everything I am would not be the same without being a veteran,' says soldier who served in Afghanistan

Matt Farwell, who served in Afghanistan War, says he's glad that US troops are no longer there, but that he's horrified at how the withdrawal took place. He discussed his reflections on Veterans Day with The World's host Marco Werman.

The WorldNovember 11, 2021 · 3:30 PM EST

Color guard retires the colors during a Veterans Day commemoration ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, Nov. 11, 2021.

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

Many countries today are honoring service members who fought in wars. The day goes back to the end of World War I, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. In Europe, it's known as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day. In the US, it's recognized as Veterans Day.

Related: Callie Crossley: Women in the military are still fighting the battle against invisibility

Notably, this is the first Veterans Day in 20 years with no US troops on the ground in Afghanistan.

A quick look at the numbers there: The US lost 2,325 service members during that war. Afghan soldiers killed in action number about 100,000. That's the human cost. The monetary cost of the US: about $2 trillion spent on the war in Afghanistan, a conflict that ended with the Taliban regaining control of the country this past August.

Related: World War II pilot Elaine Harmon is finally laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery

Matt Farwell, a veteran of Afghanistan who's written extensively on the war, including his book, "American Cipher: Bowe Bergdahl and the US Tragedy in Afghanistan," reflected on his career and the US pullout from the country with The World's host Marco Werman, from Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Marco Werman: We were thinking about you, Matt, as today approached. How are you spending this Veterans Day?Matt Farwell: Right now, I am chilling on the porch, enjoying some sunshine with my dog and looking at the leaves that are starting to change. And then, I think we're going to go to IHOP and get some free pancakes.I can see you on the porch right now. I'm just wondering, though, does Veterans Day make you reflect on your time as a service member? Is it a different day than other days?I grew up the kid of a veteran, as well, and an active duty service member, so it's always been sort of a different day and almost like a church day, where you go and you think and reflect. And for a while after the war, it was a really bad day for me, where you're overthinking you're overreflecting. You get very maudlin. My battalion did the longest conventional tour in the global war on terror. That was our big distinction. Our other one is that we have one of the highest suicide rates in the army. You mentioned the numbers of people that were lost in Afghanistan. That's a huge number. And the number of the people that were lost because of Afghanistan is even bigger.We never spoke about the withdrawal in August and the chaos and the optics of the US leaving the country in tatters. What has this year been like for you and what are you feeling today, knowing that all the US troops have left?On one hand, I felt since my deployment in 2006, 2007, that the war was not what it was being sold to the American public as, and that we probably shouldn't be involved there in the way that we were. So, I am glad that US troops are no longer in Afghanistan. I'm glad we're no longer fighting that war. I'm horrified with the way that it took place. I mean, three of my interpreters that I'm quite close to, they made it out. These three brothers from a battalion in Paktika [Province], where most of the town supported the Americans, and had since the American invasion. And now, they're here, they're in Fort Worth. They're truckers. They're filling a critical need in our economy. They're working their butts off. They make me feel lazy — and I work quite hard. Meanwhile, all they can worry about is their mom and brother that are still stuck in Afghanistan, that, at like three points during the withdrawal, I could have gotten out, but the State Department wouldn't clear it.Were you playing a role in evacuating Afghans?I was trying to help my interpreters get some of their family members out, and I failed at that.It must have been hard. I mean, I know there was a lot of paperwork.It's still hard. I mean, I'm supposed to … the paperwork wound up being the obstacle. I could have gotten them on a helicopter and gotten them out. I was talking directly with the helicopter pilots and the State Department said no.So Matt, I want us to hear a moment from the last time you and I spoke about America's legacy in Afghanistan. Here's what you said. I think this is back earlier this year: "I mean, I think it's the same legacy that the Soviet Union left, the same legacy the British left, the same legacy Alexander the Great left. We got beaten by the people of Afghanistan. It happens. It happens to everybody." How does that comment strike you today, Matt, even more relevant?Yeah, I mean, still true and relevant. It wasn't for lack of money or anything else. We lost there. People lose there. The Afghan people are tough. There's infighting among themselves, and that's part of why we're trying to get my interpreters' families out, so that they can be safe.So, now we're getting news from Afghanistan about an imminent humanitarian disaster with winter coming. I mean, not much news, though, from Afghanistan. How do you feel about America's attention span with regard to the country?Oh, it's terrible. I mean, the only time I've had writing directly solicited from me was in the actual week that Afghanistan was falling. And then, after that, the attention has completely fallen off.The US right now is not directly engaged in any major war, but the military is always on alert, and it seems the world keeps looking at the US and wondering what the US is going to do about global conflicts. Do you think that is still the role of the US?I mean, I think as long as so many people in the United States make so much money off of war, it'll still be the role. And I don't see Lockheed Martin or BAE Systems going away anytime soon.That's a critique we often hear from the far left in this country. Should we be surprised that a veteran is saying that?No, because it's the critique that you first heard from a veteran named Dwight Eisenhower when he was giving his presidential farewell speech. He warned about the dangers of the military industrial complex, and we just finished out a 20-year war that largely existed to serve them.So Matt, Veterans Day, it's about paying respect to and honoring those who have served. What aspects of that service are you most proud of?I am most proud of the people I got to know, the people I served alongside, or that I've gotten to know afterward because of that service. I'm hard on the army. I still love the army of any American institution. It's the one that I'm the most emotionally attached to. It gets my heartstrings going, you know, so there's a whole lot. My life and my character and everything I am would not be the same without being a veteran. So, it's an incredible honor for me to be able to join that unbroken line in my family that goes back generations and people that have stepped up and served in the military. And just because I happen to do it in a bad time during a bad war, I'm still proud that I was able to do that and was able to do that with so many fine people. And I just wish that it didn't screw so many of us up so badly.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

Behind the story: Shirin Jaafari’s reporting from Herat, Afghanistan, in the summer of 2021

“MuiTypography-root-125 MuiTypography-h1-130″>Behind the story: Shirin Jaafari’s reporting from Herat, Afghanistan, in the summer of 2021

Shirin Jaafari, a reporter at The World since 2015, shares why she was so passionate about returning to Afghanistan and what it took to get her there — and back — safely.

The WorldNovember 11, 2021 · 11:00 AM EST

Reporter Shirin Jaafari looks out over the ancient citadel of Herat, in western Afghanistan, just days before the Taliban takeover.

Shirin Jaafari

It’s 2018, and after months of careful planning, Shirin Jaafari lands in Kabul, Afghanistan, for the first time. She’s there to collect women’s stories and to make connections for future reporting. Shirin covers a range of stories, from up-and-coming Afghan fashion designers, to students at the American University of Afghanistan who are still pursuing their studies even after a terrorist attack, to a star midwife and health adviser who is working to make pregnancy safer for all women in Afghanistan. 

When she returns to the United States, she continues to report on Afghanistan and often checks in with her contacts who send her photos and videos, giving her a window into what’s happening on the ground.

“I saw how their lives were changing, and how Afghanistan was going through a big transformation as every day, the Taliban occupied more territory.” 

Shirin Jaafari

“I saw how their lives were changing, and how Afghanistan was going through a big transformation as every day, the Taliban occupied more territory,” Shirin said.  

This is a mural on the campus of the American University of Afghanistan.


Shirin Jaafari/PRI 

Shirin wants to go back to Afghanistan, and this time, she wants to go beyond Kabul and into the provinces where little international reporting is done. She pitches the idea multiple times to her editor Matthew Bell, and eventually, they decide she will return in November 2020.

They spend countless hours planning her travel, security detail and route in the months leading up to her return. But right when she should be getting ready for takeoff, the trip is canceled because of security concerns. 

Months later, in July 2021, the United States confirms that they have withdrawn from Bagram Airfield and announces that the deadline to withdraw completely has been moved to the end of August. 

“There was a point in early July when Shirin told me, ‘The United States is leaving. This is happening now.’”

Matthew Bell

“There was a point in early July when Shirin told me, ‘The United States is leaving. This is happening now,’” Matthew said. The team realized how quickly things were changing on the ground, and shifted into gear to get Shirin back to Afghanistan. Another painstaking process of preparations begins, and by July 20, she is taxiing on the tarmac at Kabul International Airport. 

Security concerns in the region change by the hour, so it isn’t until Shirin is on the ground that she makes a plan with her security detail about where to go next. She wants to get out of Kabul and into the provinces, perhaps Kandahar, Mazar-i-Sharif or Herat.

Reporter Shirin Jaafari took a selfie from the edge of Herat in western Afghanistan in August as the Taliban was advancing toward the city. 


Shirin Jaafari

The team decides on Herat for a few reasons. From a safety standpoint, there are more flights going in and out of the city daily, making it easier to leave the city if needed. But it’s also the perfect place to gather information on two potential stories of interest: a small militia group that opposes the Taliban is set up in Herat, and people who have already been displaced by the Taliban are arriving in the city every day. 

One day, as Shirin’s team is driving to the outskirts of the city, they spot a woman carrying a load of firewood on the side of the road in the August heat and wind. The car stops, and Shirin jumps out and speaks with her. She learns that the woman’s name is Salimeh, and that she is carrying the firewood many hours back to her house to feed a few families who have fled from fighting north of the city. They drive Salimeh home, and Shirin speaks with the other families who have made the difficult decision to leave their homes behind as the Taliban approaches. 

Salimeh has been hosting displaced families at her mud house in the outskirts of Herat in western Afghanistan since the fighting began in the north of the country two months ago. Her own family has barely anything to eat given that the insecurity has left many jobless and farmers haven't been able to harvest crops. Afghanistan is also facing a drought.


Shirin Jaafari/The World 

Putting together stories in hostile environments is time- and resource-intensive. In addition to the usual costs such as airfare and lodging, reporters often also require producers and translators. Security is another concern: Correspondents work with a security detail, sometimes changing vehicles up to three times a day to ensure their safety. 

The newsroom team must balance the value and cost of trips like these with other necessary and urgent reporting from around the world. Your support enables The World to tell stories like Salimeh’s. 

Later, when the team is preparing to leave Herat, the airport shuts down. They decide to make the most of their time and travel to the city center to speak with more sources. Shirin meets Hamid Soltani, the owner of an antique store. He’s already thinking about how he will have to change his business in order to stay open if the Taliban is in power. 

“In a place like Herat, what do people have at stake? It’s a really important voice. People who have something to lose, sitting there with the Taliban at the gates of the city, wondering, ‘What’s my future going to be like?’” 

Matthew Bell

“In a place like Herat, what do people have at stake? It’s a really important voice. People who have something to lose, sitting there with the Taliban at the gates of the city, wondering, ‘What’s my future going to be like?’” Matthew, Shirin’s editor, said on the importance of bringing these stories to the air.  

Soon, the airport reopens and Shirin leaves Herat. When the stories from Herat air at the beginning of August, Shirin is back in Boston. Still, her thoughts are with her contacts, sources and friends in Afghanistan, and with their fears about what would happen if the Taliban were to regain power. “I’m very privileged to be able to get on a plane and get out. So many people who I talked to didn’t have that option, and some are still stuck,” she said.

Shirin ends up with more material than she can use on the radio broadcast — but she is able to highlight additional voices on the website and on other digital platforms. 

“Whose story do you tell, and whose ends up on the cutting room floor? At the end of the day, we just have five minutes. Whose voices are missing from the general reporting we hear?” Shirin said, on which stories to tell. 

Support The World today, and help us bring you human-centered stories that feature the voices that you don’t hear anywhere else. 

Learn more about Shirin’s reporting from Afghanistan. 


The spotlight has faded on Afghanistan, but not the urgency for Afghans seeking safety

“MuiTypography-root-133 MuiTypography-h1-138″>The spotlight has faded on Afghanistan, but not the urgency for Afghans seeking safety

There are still thousands of Afghans trying to flee Afghanistan, or who are somewhere en route to a new home, and the US has struggled to meet the needs of this group.

The WorldNovember 8, 2021 · 1:30 PM EST

In this image provided by the US Army, Spc. Alejandro Haro, military police, Task Force Ever Vigilant, scans documents as he checks-in Afghan evacuees at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, on Sept. 20, 2021. Evacuees are provided housing, medical, and logistical support during their temporary stay in Kosovo by Task Force Ever Vigilant. Soldiers quickly deployed to Kosovo in August to assist and coordinate with US Embassy Pristina, Kosovo, while Afghans were processed before approval for resettlement in the United States. 

Sgt. Gloria Kamencik/US Army/AP file

When the Taliban retook control of Afghanistan, tens of thousands of US allies and their relatives were left behind after evacuation flights in the country concluded.

Many at risk in Afghanistan have been hoping to reach the US, one of the world's leading countries for refugee resettlement, but numerous roadblocks to acquiring security visas have left Afghans stuck in limbo en route to a new home.

Related: Sen. Tammy Duckworth calls for a 'real, cold-hard facts look' at US' failed 20-year war in Afghanistan

R., who worked for the United States, and then the US-backed Afghan government, is among those left behind. He says working as a US ally made him a target when the Taliban took over.

Related: Suicide bombings kill at least 37 at a mosque in Afghanistan

In the days that followed, he reached out to all of his US contacts, and he and his family returned multiple times to the Kabul airport, but ultimately, were unable to make it through the crowds outside.

R. — whose full name isn’t being used for his safety — is now in hiding.

In September, R. learned he had received final approval to move to the United States, but this long-awaited news has so far been of little use to the former US government employee.

Instead, he’s been shuttling between offices and homes of friends and family for months with his wife and two children, unable to find a way to pick up their visas from an American Consulate.

He’s unable to plan ahead and gets very little sleep at night.

“Mostly during the night, I check outside. I check around. I think, rethink,” said R., who first applied for relocation under the special immigrant visa (SIV) program in 2014.

Related: 'Why don’t you have mercy?': Afghanistan’s Hazara people increasingly face eviction, violence under Taliban rule

R.’s situation is complicated — with no clear path to safety.

When R. and his family first fled their home in August, he thought they could get on a US evacuation flight and leave within a week, so they didn’t pack warm clothes. But they couldn’t get into the airport after multiple attempts. Now, the weather has turned cold and he has had to use some of the family’s limited funds to buy blankets and jackets.

Since the closure of the US Embassy in Kabul and the end of the formal evacuation in August, virtually all paths from Afghanistan to the United States now include some steps that must be completed in third countries.

But US overseas consulates have not shown flexibility to the exceptional circumstances of Afghans, who may be admitted to third countries on transit visas valid for only a couple of days, explained R.’s attorney, Jennifer Patota, of the International Refugee Assistance Project.

Afghans “don't have the time to enter the country, then contact the embassy to ask for the case to be transferred,” Patota explained. They must then wait for an appointment to go pick up the visa, she noted.

In some cases, she said US overseas consulates have refused to accept case transfers even before an individual has reached a third country or to waive other requirements, like medical exams.

“There's kind of a multitude of issues everywhere we turn. … We've been in this kind of a Catch-22 situation where he can't get a visa to enter many of the countries without proof that he has an American visa in some instances, but he can't get the American visa until he can get into the other country.”

Jennifer Patota, lawyer, International Refugee Assistance Project

“There's kind of a multitude of issues everywhere we turn,” she said, referring to R.’s case. “We've been in this kind of a Catch-22 situation where he can't get a visa to enter many of the countries without proof that he has an American visa in some instances, but he can't get the American visa until he can get into the other country.”

In July, Congress authorized waiving medical exams for Afghans eligible for special immigrant visas in order to speed departures.

“It's this lack of communication and coordination among departments and agencies that is causing life-or-death situations for the people that are caught up in it,” Patota said.

A State Department spokesperson wrote in an email to The World:

“We recognize that it is currently extremely difficult for Afghans to obtain a visa to a third country or find a way to enter a third country.”

“Developing […] processing alternatives will take time and will depend on cooperation from third countries, as well as the Taliban,” the spokesperson added.

Others at risk, including some who have managed to enter countries in proximity to Afghanistan have faced delays and barriers.

Leila Nadir of the Afghan American Artists and Writers Association has been trying to help an academic, who had reached Pakistan, to come to the US to take a short-term appointment at her university in Rochester, New York.

“While [my colleague] is sitting in Pakistan, waiting for this interview, his Pakistani visa is running out. And so, in about one to two more weeks, he's going to have to return back to Afghanistan … Even the progress we’ve made gets reversed.”

Leila Nadir, Afghan American Artists and Writers Association

“While he's sitting in Pakistan, waiting for this interview, his Pakistani visa is running out. And so, in about one to two more weeks, he's going to have to return back to Afghanistan,” Nadir said. “Even the progress we’ve made gets reversed.”

So far, only one person in the group she’s helping has reached the US.

Of the tens of thousands that the US did manage to evacuate in August, many have spent weeks living on overseas and domestic military bases.

Related: How ethnic and religious divides in Afghanistan are contributing to violence against minorities

“Afghan families are basically sleeping outside in tents. It's getting cold, you know, on these military bases in the United States, and so, it's important to get people resettled.”

Yael Schacher, senior US advocate, Refugees International

“Like [at] Fort Bliss, at Quantico in Virginia,” said Yael Schacher, senior US advocate at Refugees International. “Afghan families are basically sleeping outside in tents. It's getting cold, you know, on these military bases in the United States, and so, it's important to get people resettled.”

She says the US government is pushing to get these evacuees resettled in communities before Thanksgiving, with help from the private sector. This should make room for more of those overseas to be relocated to the US, she noted.

But many are entering into another sort of limbo, admitted not as refugees, but under a temporary status known as humanitarian parole — which is faster to grant in a crisis situation than refugee status.

In August’s budget bill, Congress gave Afghan parolees some of the same benefits refugees get, including financial support and access to English classes.

However, humanitarian parole lasts just two years, with no path to permanent residency.

In addition, while focusing resources on processing evacuees, the US government has let other applications from at-risk Afghans languish, Schacher said.

A US Immigration ​​and Citizenship Services (USCIS) spokesperson, Victoria Palmer, wrote in an email to The World that the agency, which normally receives fewer than 2,000 requests for humanitarian parole a year, had received nearly 20,000 applications from Afghans since August. They granted 93.

Separately, more than 67,000 evacuated Afghan nationals have entered the country under humanitarian parole.

“USCIS is actively assigning additional staffing resources to assist with the current parole-application workload,” Palmer wrote, and “issued an agency-wide request for volunteers to help process applications […] The agency will have significantly more staff assigned to this workload in the coming weeks.”

Fast-tracking new legislation to protect Afghans 

For those admitted under humanitarian parole, additional steps will be required to remain in the US, particularly for those who have not already begun the SIV process.

“They're going to have to apply for asylum or other forms of immigration relief through our immigration system, which could take a very long time,” said Schacher of Refugees International.

The asylum application is “very labor-intensive,” she noted, requiring extensive documentation, yet many Afghans were told to destroy their documents back in Afghanistan.

Schacher’s organization and other advocates are pushing for legislation known as the Afghan adjustment act that would create a special pathway to permanent residency for this group.

Stewart Verdery, a political consultant who works with clients including the National Immigration Forum, says it’s difficult to get any immigration bill through Congress.

“I'm hopeful, though, that the bipartisan … angst about how the Afghan pullout … unfolded will allow this issue to be separated."

Stewart Verdery, political consultant who works with the National Immigration Forum

“I'm hopeful, though, that the bipartisan … angst about how the Afghan pullout … unfolded will allow this issue to be separated. Because it is time-sensitive; it is a discrete population.” He also notes that a precedent has already been set with past legislation impacting relocated Cubans and South Vietnamese.

Meanwhile, Patota said that her client R.’s situation is not only a result of a chaotic evacuation, but also of years of problems processing the visas of Afghans in need of protection.

“The US, I know, is working behind the scenes to try to figure out how to get people out, but it's not happening fast enough. And it could have happened in a much more orderly and safe fashion if they had just planned for this in coordination with the drawdown,” she said.

An upcoming vaccine drive in Afghanistan is an ‘unprecedented opportunity’ to eradicate polio, UN official says

An upcoming vaccine drive in Afghanistan is an ‘unprecedented opportunity’ to eradicate polio, UN official says

UNICEF and the World Health Organization reached an agreement with the Taliban allowing the vaccinations to resume and permitting Afghan women vaccine workers to take part in the drives as well.

Shirin Jaafari

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A health worker administers a vaccination to a child during a polio campaign in the old part of Kabul, Afghanistan, June 15, 2021. UN agencies are gearing up to vaccinate all of Afghanistan’s children under 5 against polio after the Taliban agreed to the campaign, the World Health Organization said on Oct. 19, 2021.


Rahmat Gul/Ap


Next month, UN agencies in Afghanistan will restart a nationwide vaccination drive that’s been on hold for more than three years due to conflict and security threats.

A simultaneous effort in Pakistan — the only other country where wild polio currently persists — will begin in December, and with only two cases reported so far this year, health experts are hopeful that the disease will soon be eradicated altogether.

In the coming weeks, Afghanistan will also undergo measles and COVID-19 vaccination campaigns, UNICEF said.

Related: How ethnic and religious divides in Afghanistan are contributing to violence against minorities

UNICEF and the World Health Organization recently reached an agreement with the Taliban allowing the vaccinations to resume and permitting Afghan women vaccine workers to take part in the drives as well.

Salam al-Janabi, UNICEF’s representative in Afghanistan, said the agreement with the Taliban is significant as it allows Afghan women vaccine workers to take part in the drives as well.    

Related: Sen. Tammy Duckworth calls for a ‘real, cold-hard facts look’ at US’ failed 20-year war in Afghanistan

“It is really encouraging that female health workers and vaccinators are going to be part of this campaign because, frankly, you cannot do house-to-house vaccination campaigns without our female colleagues and female staff being part of these campaigns,” he said.

He and other health experts say it’s crucial to have women participate because they often can get better access to mothers and their babies, especially in the more conservative parts of Afghanistan. And it’s crucial to get every child vaccinated.

“This is an unprecedented opportunity to end this disease,” Janabi said.

Until now, vaccine workers have faced major security threats both in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan. Extremist groups labeled them as dangerous, foreign agents.

Last March, gunmen killed three female polio vaccination health workers in the Afghan city of Jalalabad. Just a few months later, another four polio vaccine workers were killed and three injured in separate attacks.

The wave of violence in Afghanistan led officials there to suspend the polio eradication drive, leaving millions of children at risk of contracting a preventable disease. But now, the Taliban have reached an agreement with UNICEF and the World Health Organization to allow the vaccinations to resume.

Polio can cause partial paralysis in unvaccinated children, and there’s no cure for the disease.

“Vaccination efforts have missed a lot of children in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

 Dr. Hamid Jafari, director of polio eradication, World Health Organization, Eastern Mediterranean region

“Vaccination efforts have missed a lot of children in both Afghanistan and Pakistan,” said Dr. Hamid Jafari, director of polio eradication for the World Health Organization’s Eastern Mediterranean region.

“In Afghanistan, we were not able to consistently vaccinate 3.3 million children for 3 1/2 years, and in Pakistan, also, there are areas where still many children are being missed.”

But as hopeful as the news about the polio drive is, Afghanistan is facing a larger humanitarian challenge ahead.

When the Taliban took over in August, the US froze roughly $9.5 billion of the country’s assets. That’s because members of the Taliban leadership are on US and European sanctions lists.

As a result, the Taliban haven’t been able to pay health care workers’ salaries or support the health care system, in general.

“Primary and secondary health facilities have collapsed,” UNICEF’s Janabi said. “We are seeing children who are really in desperate need of treatment for severe acute malnutrition and health facilities are not able to provide it.”

Related: ‘Why don’t you have mercy?’: Afghanistan’s Hazara people increasingly face eviction, violence under Taliban rule

This week, the UN described the overall humanitarian situation in Afghanistan as a “countdown to catastrophe.”

“The combined shocks of drought, conflict, COVID-19 and an economic crisis in Afghanistan have left more than half the population facing a record level of acute hunger.” 

UN statement

“The combined shocks of drought, conflict, COVID-19 and an economic crisis in Afghanistan have left more than half the population facing a record level of acute hunger,” it said.

The impact has already been disastrous.

Last weekend, Mohammad Mohaqiq, a former Afghan government official, said the bodies of eight orphan children who had starved to death were found in a neighborhood in Kabul.

“There is no doubt that they died of hunger,” Mohammad Ali Bamiani, a local cleric said in a Facebook post.

Related: The Afghan government and the US lost popular support over corruption in Afghanistan, investigator general says

Taliban officials are urging the international community to give them access to the frozen funds.

But Western countries want commitments from the Taliban in return. For example, that they allow high school girls to return to school and that they uphold women’s rights.

In the meantime, Janabi of UNICEF said aid organizations are doing what they can.

“As long as we are able to continue these conversations at all levels, we will try and find ways to deliver the necessary and lifesaving aid for children, [and] for girls, as we can, while the bigger politics get sorted out,” he said. 

How ethnic and religious divides in Afghanistan are contributing to violence against minorities

How ethnic and religious divides in Afghanistan are contributing to violence against minorities

A scholar of Afghan affairs explains the religious affiliations of different ethnic groups in Afghanistan and why they may not share a common understanding of Islam.

Abdulkader Sinno

A powerful explosion on Oct. 8, 2021, in a mosque in northern Afghanistan, left several dead. 


Abdullah Sahil/AP


Close to a hundred Afghan Shiite Muslims were killed in attacks on mosques in October 2021.

One such attack took place on Oct. 15, when a group of suicide bombers detonated explosives at a mosque in Kandahar. Just over a week before that, at least 46 people were killed in another suicide bomber attack in northern Afghanistan. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for both attacks.

Ethnicity and religion are key to understanding the politics and conflicts of today’s Afghanistan. My research on Afghan affairs can explain how they have created fault lines that have influenced Afghanistan’s politics since 1978.

Afghanistan’s four largest ethnic groups

The largest ethnic group in Afghanistan, estimated at around 45% of the population and mostly concentrated in the south and east of the country, are the Sunni Muslim Pashtun.

The Pashtun population is split in half by the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Durand Line, and has a long history of challenging state authority and the legitimacy of official borders in both countries. Until recently, when Pakistan built a fence on the border, Pashtun tribesmen and fighters crossed the border as if it did not exist.

The Pashtun are often characterized as being fiercely independent and protective of their land, honor, traditions and faith. The first time Pashtun fighters defeated an invading superpower was when they destroyed a British army sent to colonize Afghanistan in what is known as the First Anglo-Afghan War, which lasted from 1838 to 1942.

The Pashtun tribes’ and clans’ martial prowess makes them very influential in the politics of Afghanistan. Except for two short-lived exceptions, in 1929 and between 1992 and 1994, only Pashtun leaders have ruled Afghanistan since 1750.

Pashtuns constitute Afghanistan’s largest ethnic group. 


Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division

The second-largest ethnic group in Afghanistan are the Tajiks, a term that refers to ethnic Tajiks as well as to other Sunni Muslim Persian speakers. The Tajiks, who constitute some 30% of the Afghan population and are mostly concentrated in the northeast and west, have generally been accepted by Pashtuns as part of the fabric of life in Afghanistan, perhaps because of their common adherence to Sunni Islam.

The third-largest Sunni Muslim group are the Uzbeks and the closely related Turkmen in the north of the country, who form around 10% of the population.

The Hazara — around 15% of the Afghan population — traditionally lived in the rough mountainous terrain in the center of Afghanistan, an area in which they historically sought shelter from Pashtun tribesmen who disapproved of their adherence to the Shiite sect of Islam. The Hazara have historically been some of the poorest and most marginalized people in Afghanistan.

Communist government and Soviet occupation

Most Afghans hardly reacted when a faction of Afghanistan’s communist party took power in April 1978, because the Afghan government had traditionally played a very limited role outside of the larger cities.

They did, however, rise in impromptu revolts when the communists sent their activists to conservative villages to teach Afghan children Marxist dogma. When the Soviets invaded in 1979, resistance spread to much of Afghanistan. Mujahideen — the Muslim warriors defending their land — from all ethnic groups played a role in resisting the Soviet military.

Later, a brutish Uzbek communist militia leader named Abdul Rashid Dostum eliminated most Uzbek Mujahideen, and most Hazara Mujahideen parties made a tacit agreement with the Soviets to reduce hostilities. Most Pashtuns and Tajiks, however, continued to resist until the Soviet withdrawal and the collapse of the Soviet-backed regime in Kabul.

The Soviets promoted minority interests and gender equality in areas of Afghanistan they controlled, which led the larger cities they controlled to evolve culturally to a point that made city life unrecognizably alien to many rural Afghans.

The withdrawal of the Soviet Red Army in February 1989 led to the cessation of US aid to the Mujahideen parties, which turned Mujahideen field commanders, whose loyalty to party leaders was based on their ability to distribute financial and military resources, into militarized independent local leaders. Similarly, the regime’s militias and units also became independent after its collapse in April 1992.

Afghanistan, particularly the Pashtun areas, became fragmented, with hundreds of local leaders and warlords fighting over territory, drug production, smuggling routes and populations to tax. While many local leaders cared about the welfare of their kith and kin, some were warlords who abused fellow Afghans.

The first Taliban era

In 1994, a group of previous Pashtun Mujahideen formed the Taliban and managed to control most of Afghanistan, including Kabul, by the time the US invaded in late 2001.

The Taliban’s rise was fueled by rural Pashtun support for its agenda of ending warlord-generated insecurity, bringing back Pashtun prominence and re-creating traditional Pashtun village life — as they imagined it to have been. The Taliban’s conservative views reflected the values of a large section of the public they governed in the south and east of the country.

The conservative rural Taliban, traumatized by decades of war, encountered an alien cultural environment when they took over Kabul. They reacted forcefully, limited urban women’s access to education and labor and imposed strict limitations on dress, appearance and public behavior.

Afghan Hazaras face violence since the return of the Taliban. 


Rahmat Gul/AP

Afghans in urban areas, particularly women, and members of Afghan minorities did not by and large share the parochial Taliban understanding of their common faith. They were undermined, threatened or punished when they attempted to challenge Taliban restrictions. The Shiite Hazara, in particular, were subjected to brutal retaliatory attacks when they resisted Taliban rule.

The US occupation

The US military invaded Afghanistan and allied with minority local leaders and some Pashtun warlords to oust the Taliban. These warlords ended up filling most key posts in the regime the US-led coalition established in Kabul.

For warlords from all backgrounds, it appeared to be a golden age. The rest of the Afghan population, even more so in Pashtun areas than in others, went back to suffering from warlords’ predatory behavior.

In 2004, three years after the US occupation began, the mostly Pashtun Taliban reorganized as an insurgent force to fight the US-led occupation and the regime it established in Afghanistan.

Enterprising urban youths, including women, from historically disadvantaged minorities, particularly the Shiite Hazara, took advantage of aid, education programs and foreign-driven employment opportunities to advance. In contrast, the rural Pashtun, who suffered the brunt of the warfare between the Taliban and US-led coalition, were set back economically and hardly benefited from investments in health and education.

One of the byproducts of the US occupation of Afghanistan was the development of a local branch of the Islamic State, the Islamic State-Khorasan (an Arabic name for the region). The organization was formed by defectors from the Taliban who felt that their leadership was too soft on the Americans. This group has engaged in attacks on Shiite civilians, whom it considers to be heretics and agents of Shiite Iran. It was responsible for attacks on US troops such as the August 2021 attack on the Kabul airport. It is also antagonistic toward the Taliban.

The return of Taliban

The return of the Taliban to Kabul after the withdrawal of US troops in August 2021 is a return to a rural Pashtun order. Most Taliban leaders are rural Pashtuns who received their education in conservative madrassas in Afghanistan or Pashtun areas of Pakistan. Only three of the 24 members of the Taliban interim government are not Pashtuns — they are Tajiks.

And the Taliban are running the country the way they imagine life in Pashtun villages used to be before Afghanistan sank into perpetual war in 1979. The Taliban movement caters to the sensibilities of conservative rural Pashtun Muslims. Their understanding of Islam is not necessarily shared by other Afghans, religious as they may be.

In the meantime, the Islamic State group is conducting massive terrorist attacks on Shiite mosques, a tactic that originated with the Iraqi branch of the organization. One aim of the Islamic State’s attacks, I believe, is to drive recruitment that has weakened over the past years by appealing to anti-Shiite sentiment among the Pashtun, particularly after the US withdrawal and Taliban successes on the battlefield.Abdulkader Sinno is an associate professor of political science and Middle Eastern Studies at Indiana University. This article is republished from The Conversation a nonprofit, independent news organization dedicated to unlocking the knowledge of experts for the public good.

Russia hosts multinational talks on Afghanistan

Russia hosts multinational talks on Afghanistan

The World staff

Abdul Salam Hanafi, a deputy prime minister in the Taliban’s interim government, left, speaks with acting Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, Taliban official Amir Khan Muttaqi during talks involving Afghan representatives in Moscow, Russia, Oct. 20, 2021.


Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP pool


Top of The World — our morning news roundup written by editors at The World. Subscribe here.

Russia – Afghanistan
Russia hosted multinational talks on Afghanistan on Wednesday with senior representatives of the Taliban, as well as officials from China, Pakistan, Iran, India and several Central Asian nations. The talks, one of the Taliban’s most high-profile international meetings since taking control of Afghanistan, focused on security, the political situation and the future of the country. Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, emphasized the need for the formation of an inclusive government to achieve peace and stability and commended the Taliban on their efforts to stabilize the military-political situation. While many countries have shut down their diplomatic posts in Afghanistan, Russia maintains its embassy and diplomatic presence in Kabul.

A bomb blast on a bus carrying Syrian troops during rush hour in Damascus has claimed the lives of 14 people in one of the deadliest attacks in the Syrian capital in years. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the explosions, which also left several people wounded. While the decade-long conflict between the Syrian government and insurgents in several parts of the country continues, these types of attacks are a rare occurrence in the capital. In a separate incident, according to rescue workers and eye witnesses, at least 11 people were killed — including four children and a woman — in a Syrian army shelling of residential areas of the rebel-held city of Ariha in Idlib province, in one of the deadliest such assaults since the 2020 truce brokered by Turkey and Russia.

A report produced from Brazil’s Senate inquiry into the nation’s COVID-19 crisis is calling for criminal charges against President Jair Bolsonaro for his handling of the pandemic, which has claimed the lives of 600,000 people, the second highest death toll in the world after the US. The report by the Senate committee is calling for Bolsonaro to be indicted on charges that include crimes against humanity, charlatanism, misuse of public funds and inciting crime. Bolsonaro, who has denied any wrongdoing, has repeatedly accused the investigation of being political. The document has to been sent to the office of the prosecutor-general, a Bolsonaro appointee who will decide whether or not to push forward the investigation and pursue charges.

From The WorldEfforts underway to create and expand new habitats for China’s wandering elephants

In this photo released by the Yunnan Provincial Command Center for the Safety and Monitoring of North Migrating Asian Elephants, a herd of wandering elephants cross a river using a highway near Yuxi city, Yuanjiang county in southwestern China’s Yunnan Province, Aug. 8, 2021. 


Yunnan Provincial Command Center for the Safety and Monitoring of North Migrating Asian Elephants/AP

Elephants have been pushed out of their natural habitat by encroaching farmland, deforestation and development. Last year was especially dry in the part of Yunnan Province where elephants usually live, making it harder for them to find the food they need in nature.

Filmmakers discuss ‘The Rescue’ about the effort to save 12 boys and their soccer coach trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand

Members of the Wild Boars soccer team who were rescued from a flooded cave, offer foods to a Buddhist monk near the Tham Luang cave in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, Thailand, to mark one year since their rescue, June 24, 2019.


Sakchai Lalit/AP/File photo

Filmmakers Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin speak with host Marco Werman about “The Rescue,” their documentary about the massive effort to save 12 boys and their soccer coach trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand. “The divers were hugely enthusiastic also about the authenticity and accuracy [of the documentary],” Chin said. “And so, they would literally demonstrate exactly how they did it and what they were doing. And we were able to film that.”

Bright Spot

A 4-year-old boy in New Zealand contacted police — and then invited them to come by and check out his toys. 🚂

After his father interrupted the call, telling police he had been distracted with another child because their mother was sick, an officer paid the family a friendly visit. “He did have cool toys,” the constable confirmed. He then taught the boy about only callig police in a real emergency.

A 4-year-old boy in New Zealand who made an emergency call asking for police to come over and see his toys was surprised by a real-life visit.

— Fox5NY (@fox5ny) October 20, 2021

In case you missed it

Listen: US envoy to Afghanistan resigns

Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad speaks during the House Committee on Oversight and Reform Subcommittee hearing on the next steps for US engagement in Afghanistan, at Capitol Hill in Washington, May 20, 2021. 


Jose Luis Magana/AP

Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad spearheaded the Trump administration’s negotiations with the Taliban that forged an agreement for the withdrawal of US forces. Critics say the talks were a fig leaf, offering cover for a quick US withdrawal. And Russia is ending its diplomatic engagement with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The move by Moscow is in retaliation for NATO’s expulsion of Russian diplomats from its Brussels office earlier this month. Plus, filmmakers Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin tell us about “The Rescue,” their documentary about the massive effort to save 12 boys and their soccer coach trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand.

Don’t forget to subscribe to The World’s Latest Edition podcast using your favorite podcast player: RadioPublicApple PodcastsStitcherSoundcloudRSS.

North Korea launches suspected ballistic missile

North Korea launches suspected ballistic missile

The World staff

People watch a TV screen showing a news program reporting about North Korea’s missile launch with file footage at a train station in Seoul, South Korea, Oct. 19, 2021.


Lee Jin-man/AP


Top of The World — our morning news roundup written by editors at The World. Subscribe here.

North Korea
North Korea has launched at least one ballistic missile toward the ocean on the country’s east coast. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said it detected a short-range ballistic missile, likely launched from a submarine near Sinpo. In January, Pyongyang unveiled the missile as “the world’s most powerful weapon.”The move, which comes weeks after South Korea unveiled a similar weapon, violates some international sanctions, with the UN prohibiting North Korea from testing ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons. Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Tokyo had detected two ballistic missiles. The US military’s Indo-Pacific Command said that the launch did not pose “an immediate threat to US personnel, territory or that of its allies.”

Russia has broken diplomatic ties with NATO, suspending its permanent mission to the bloc, following the expulsion of eight Russians by the alliance. NATO has called the eight members “undeclared Russian intelligence officers.” Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the Kremlin’s move could come into effect as early as Nov. 1. Moscow is also terminating the NATO information bureau in the capital, which was established at the Belgian Embassy to explain the role of NATO and its policies to the Russian public. Russia still plans to maintain diplomatic relations with the individual governments in the alliance.

The US special envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, who negotiated the US withdrawal agreement with the Taliban under the Trump administration, has resigned from his post, which he’s held since 2018. He will be replaced by his deputy, Tom West, who plans to work closely with the US Embassy in Afghanistan, now based in Doha, Qatar. “I extend my gratitude for his decades of service to the American people,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said of Khalilzad. His resignation comes after he was excluded from the Biden administration’s first formal talks with the Taliban following the US’ full withdrawal from Afghanistan. Khalilzad has been the target of extensive criticism over the chaotic US exit from the country. He was also a veteran of past Republican administrations who helped former President George W. Bush to plan the overthrow of the Taliban in 2002.

From The WorldIn the post-Cold War era, Colin Powell became the most ‘popular and influential’ US military leader, biographer says

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell gestures during a lecture about business management and leadership in Madrid, Spain, May 24, 2006.


Daniel Ochoa de Olza/AP/File photo

Political and military leaders from around the world are paying tribute on Monday to Colin Powell, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and secretary of state, who has died at the age of 84.

Powell had been battling multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer that made him more susceptible to complications from COVID-19.

Powell served both Democratic and Republican presidents and became one of the most popular public figures in the US. Powell’s biggest failure, by his own admission, was the faulty claims he made before the UN to justify the 2003 Iraq War.

Jeffrey Matthews has looked carefully at Powell’s role on the world stage. He’s the author of “Colin Powell: Imperfect Patriot.” He joined The World’s host Marco Werman to discuss Powell’s life and military career.

How the West’s obsession with fast fashion compounds an environmental nightmare in Ghana

Over 30,000 people trade in used clothing at Kantamanto market, Accra, Ghana. 


Ridwan Karim Dini-Osman/The World

As the West continues to mass produce cheap clothes, a lot of it ends up barely worn, donated or in a landfill. In Ghana, the deluge of worn-out fashions has overwhelmed the West African country’s infrastructure and poses huge environmental threats to its coastlines.

Bright Spot

On the ground, it’s hard to miss a walrus. They’re loud and huge — sometimes weighing more than 3,000 pounds. But when you’re trying to find them across the vast Arctic landscape where they live, it could be trickier to spot them.

That is why scientists in the UK are looking for “walrus detectives” 🔎 to help browse through hundreds of thousands of images taken from space and count walruses 🎧 hanging out on beaches and rocky coasts.

A female Atlantic walrus and her young offspring on an ice floe, Norway.


Richard Barrett / WWF-UK

In case you missed itListen: American missionaries held hostage in Haiti

The logo for Christian Aid Ministries in Berlin, Ohio, on a vehicle, Oct. 17, 2021. A group of 17 missionaries including children has been kidnapped by a gang in Haiti, according to a voice message sent to various religious missions by the organization. 


Tom E. Puskar/AP

One of the most notorious gangs in Haiti is holding hostage a group of American missionaries, including children. The country has the highest kidnapping rate in the world. The threat of being taken hostage is one that Haitians— rich and poor alike — face every day. And when people in the US and the UK donate clothes they don’t want anymore, those clothes end up for sale in a massive secondhand market in Accra, Ghana. But the boom in quickly made, inexpensive clothing around the world has led to an environmental crisis in countries like Ghana. Plus, TikTok has come a long way from its lip-syncing days for Generation Z. Now, innovators are using the app to help teach and spread the word on Indigenous languages across the globe.

Don’t forget to subscribe to The World’s Latest Edition podcast using your favorite podcast player: RadioPublicApple PodcastsStitcherSoundcloudRSS.