We already knew that conditions on the ground for the citizens of Afghanistan are very bad now that winter has arrived in full. (Not that you hear much about this on cable news these days.) Unemployment is rampant and even those who manage to find jobs are frequently not paid because of a massive currency shortage. Food is scarce even for those who have money to buy some and starvation is a very real possibility for large segments of the population. But those aren’t the only dangers they are facing, particularly for anyone who used to be part of the previous, U.S.-backed government. A new report from the United Nations Secretary-General this week indicates that “scores” of those former officials have been found murdered or have simply “disappeared” since the Taliban took control. This is obviously the work of the kinder, gentler Taliban we keep hearing about. (Reuters)
A U.N. report seen by Reuters says the Taliban and its allies are believed to have killed scores of former Afghan officials, security force members and people who worked with the international military contingent since the U.S.-led pullout.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ report to the U.N. Security Council paints a picture of worsening living conditions for Afghanistan’s 39 million people despite an end of combat with the Taliban’s takeover in August.
“An entire complex social and economic system is shutting down,” Guterres said.
The full report describes credible allegations of “killings, enforced disappearances and other violations” against former government officials and those who were known to have worked closely with them or the Americans. More than 100 such people have been confirmed to have been killed, with even larger numbers only listed as “missing.” On the plus side, the report also confirms that the Taliban have additionally killed at least 50 ISIS members.
As you may recall, the Taliban declared a general amnesty for all such individuals on August 17th of last year. That was during the same period of time when they were telling the United Nations (and the rest of the world) that they had no interest in setting up a unilateral government and that they would respect women’s rights. Not a single one of those promises have been kept.
While promising the world to act more like a “normal” government, the Taliban has continued to slaughter and abduct people just as they always have. Outside of Kabul, in most of the provinces, girls are still not being allowed to attend school past the seventh grade. Islamic dress codes are once again being harshly enforced, with many younger women no longer able to leave their homes because they have no money to buy a burqa. Prepubescent girls are still being sold as child brides.
These are the people that we have been negotiating with for the past seven months. And by “we” I mean both the United Nations and the United States directly via the secrets meetings that Joe Biden’s negotiating team has been holding. We are now on the verge of the White House potentially cutting some sort of deal with the Taliban while the United Nations is rounding up more shipments of money for them in the hopes that some of it will go to feeding their people.
This is the same Taliban that was in charge when we first invaded twenty years ago no matter how much they try to paint a new face on themselves for the global media. It’s almost as if the past twenty years never happened. We eventually accomplished the goal of killing Osama bin Laden and a number of his higher-level henchmen, but our efforts at engaging in “nation-building” and “planting the seeds of democracy” in what was obviously hostile soil came to naught. Perhaps one of the biggest tragedies we’re watching unfold is an entire generation of young women who grew up under the allied occupation and became accustomed to a more westernized level of personal freedom. They are now locked back down under an oppressive Islamic regime. In some ways, it’s perhaps worse that we ever allowed them to get their hopes up.
Have we learned anything from this colossal failure? I’d like to think so but my hopes aren’t very high.