Kinder, gentler Taliban open fire on Jalalabad protesters -- despite strongly worded memo from UN

Guys, it may be early still, but … I suspect the Taliban aren’t as concerned about their international standing as the Biden administration thinks. While the Biden administration threatens to use diplomatic pressure on the new rulers of Afghanistan to demand respect for human rights, the Taliban are opening up live fire on people protesting their rule in Jalalabad. It began with dissenters insisting on the use of the Afghan national flag rather than the Taliban banner:

The Taliban faced the first street protests on Wednesday against their takeover of Afghanistan, with demonstrations in at least two cities, even as they moved to form a new government.

A public display of dissent in the northeastern city of Jalalabad was met by force. Taliban soldiers fired into the crowd and beat protesters and journalists.

The Taliban had taken control of the city, a commercial hub east of Kabul near the main border crossing with Pakistan, four days earlier without much of a fight after a deal was negotiated with local leaders. This week, the Taliban have been out in large numbers, patrolling the city in pickup trucks seized from the now defunct police force.

Despite the risks, hundreds of protesters marched through the main shopping street, whistling, shouting and bearing large flags of the Afghan Republic. Taliban fighters fired in the air to break up the crowd, but the protesters did not disperse, video aired by local news media outlets showed.

When that failed, the fighters resorted to violence. At least two people were killed and a dozen injured, according to Al Jazeera.

But, but, but … the Taliban said they wanted to be “inclusive”! Everyone got “amnesty,” right? Let’s just say that those promises appear to have short expiration date, and Stars & Stripes also notes some disturbing signs for other such promises:

In Kabul, groups of Taliban fighters carrying long guns patrolled a well-to-do neighborhood that is home to many embassies as well as mansions of the Afghan elite.

The Taliban have promised to maintain security, but residents say groups of armed men have been going door to door inquiring about Afghans who worked with the Americans or the deposed government. It’s unclear if the gunmen are Taliban or criminals posing as militants.

Another Taliban promise being closely watched is their vow to prevent Afghanistan from again being used as a base for planning terrorist attacks. That was enshrined in a 2020 peace deal with the Trump administration that paved the way for the drawdown of American troops, the last of whom are supposed to leave at the end of the month. …

Elsewhere in Afghanistan, the Taliban blew up a statue depicting Abdul Ali Mazari, a militia leader killed by the Taliban in 1996, when the Islamic militants seized power from rival warlords. Mazari was a champion of Afghanistan’s ethnic Hazara minority, Shiites who were persecuted under the Sunni Taliban’s earlier rule. That further raised concerns about whether they would make good on their promises, including not seeking revenge on those who have opposed them.

Of course, hope springs eternal in the progressive breast. While the Taliban tried mowing down protesters in Jalalabad, Biden’s ambassador to the UN attempted to scold the Taliban on women’s rights. Linda Thomas-Greenfield literally cited a “very strongly worded press statement” as an effective tool in this regard:

BLITZER: The U.N. secretary general is saying that they’re already getting, and I’m quoting him now, chilling reports of mounting human rights violations against the women and girls of Afghanistan. What specifically are you learning about those threats?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We are hearing from people in Afghanistan that they are getting threats from the Taliban, and we have expressed in no uncertain terms here at the United Nations through a very strongly worded press statement from the Security Council that we expect the Taliban to respect human rights, including the rights of women and girls.

We have also indicated that they have to be respectful of humanitarian law and that we do not expect to see that Afghanistan will become a safe haven for terrorists. But, again, it is not their words that we will hold them to. It is their actions that we will be watching.

Yes, I’m certain that all the Taliban needed to respect human rights was a strongly worded memo from the United Nations. Every action of the Taliban suggests that all they crave is Western approbation, rather than their seventh-century philosophy on culture and politics. Well done. The people of Jalalabad salute you — well, the few that are left to salute, anyway.