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Afghanistan: Kabul slowly but fearfully returns to “normal” life under the new Taliban regime

Life slowly resumed its rhythm to Kabul amid strong fear of the new Taliban regime, which strengthens its control in the city and hinders the departure of those who want to flee from Afghanistan.

Shops reopened in Kabul, traffic resumed and police controlled traffic, while the Taliban guarded the checkpoints.

But some signs indicate that life will not be the same. The men exchanged their Western clothes for shalwar kameez – the loose traditional Afghan dress – and state television broadcasts mainly Islamic programs.

Schools and universities in the capital are still closed and few women dared to go out into the street.

Some congregated briefly at the entrance to the “green zone” to ask for the right to return to workr. The Taliban tried in vain to disperse them, before civilians convinced them to leave.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, co-founder and number two of the Taliban, returned to Afghanistan from Qatar, where he headed the movement’s political cabinet, said one of its spokesmen.

The Taliban also announced “a general amnesty” for all state officials, calling them to “resume their daily life with complete confidence.”

Gestures and mistrust

The Taliban have multiplied their appeasement gestures towards the population since they entered Kabul on Sunday after a blazing offensive with which in just ten days they took control of almost the entire country, and of the presidential palace, abandoned by Ashraf Ghani, who fled abroad.

But for many Afghans, it will be difficult to trust them. When they ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001, they imposed an ultra-rigorous version of Islamic law. Women could not work or study, and thieves and murderers faced terrible punishments.

“People are afraid of the unknown. The Taliban patrol the city in small convoys. They don’t bother anyone, but of course people are afraid“a merchant in Kabul told AFP on Tuesday.

Despite his messages, some information suggests that they were still looking for government officials, and a witness said that some men entered the house of one of those officials to take him by force.

Faced with the “rapid deterioration of the security and human rights situation” and “the humanitarian emergency situation,” the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) called for a ban on the repatriation of Afghans.

In a long-awaited speech, the President of the United States, Joe Biden, defended the withdrawal of US troops on Monday from Afghanistan, where they entered 20 years ago to oust the Taliban from power.

“I am deeply saddened by the events, but I do not regret” the decision, Biden said.

The Taliban triumph

The United States intervened in Afghanistan in 2001 due to the Taliban’s rejection of hand over al Qaeda boss, Osama bin Laden, after the September 11 attacks.

The Taliban’s triumph sparked scenes of panic and chaos at Kabul airport on Monday, where thousands of desperate people rushed to flee.

Videos on social media showed hundreds of people running alongside an American military plane about to take off, while some clung to its sides or its wheels.

A photography captured about 640 Afghans crammed into a US Air Force C-17 plane. Some of them got on the aircraft with the ramp half open.

Washington sent 6,000 soldiers to secure the airport and evicting some 30,000 American and Afghan civilian collaborators in fear for their lives.

Spain, Germany, France, Holland, the United Kingdom and several other countries accelerated the repatriation of its citizens.

Reactions

The reaction of the international community began to arrive. The United States announced Monday that will only recognize a Taliban government in Afghanistan if it respects women’s rights and turns away from extremist movements like Al Qaida.

China, who said they want to keep “Friendly relationships” with the Taliban, he criticized on Tuesday the “terrible chaos” left by the United States in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

Russia, whose ambassador should be the first diplomatic contact of the new regime, considered that the guarantees of the Taliban in terms of freedom of opinion are a “positive sign” and he wished the beginning of a dialogue of “all the political, ethnic and religious forces”.

After 20 years of military intervention in Afghanistan, the British Defense Minister, Ben Wallace, spoke of a “failure of the international community”, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the intervention in Afghanistan was not as “fruitful” as expected.

For his part, French President Emmanuel Macron considered that Afghanistan should not “to be the sanctuary of terrorism again.”

But for many analysts, although the Taliban they should be more prudent in their dealings with Al Qaeda, both groups remain closely linked.

“What is happening in Afghanistan is a clear and resounding victory for Al Qaeda,” said Colin Clarke, research director at the Soufan Center, who believes that group could take advantage of to attract recruits and create a new dynamic.

AFP Agency

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