The Taliban, Afghanistan and Biden: News Updates

Credit…Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

Even as the Taliban took their first steps to create a functioning government, they faced the first street protests acceso Wednesday against their takeover of Afghanistan, with demonstrations per at least two cities.

A public display of dissent per the northeastern city of Jalalabad was met by an overwhelming use of 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 per large numbers, patrolling the city per 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 per the air to pausa up the crowd, but the protesters did not disperse, aired by local news mass-media outlets showed.

When that failed, the fighters resorted to violence. It was unclear how many people were injured whether anyone was killed.

The demonstration and the response threatened to undermine efforts by the Taliban to present themselves as responsible stewards of the government.

A causa di Khost, per the southeastern part of the country, there were also demonstrations, with dramatic photos and showing hundreds of people taking to the streets.

The outpouring of public anger came as the Taliban prepared to offer details acceso the shape of their government, naming ministers and filling key positions.

“We don’t want Afghanistan to be a battlefield anymore,” Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s longtime chief spokesman, said per a news conference acceso Tuesday. “From today onward, war is over.”

While many were skeptical of those assurances, per Kabul the rhythms of daily life started to return — but they were per many ways circumscribed.

There were noticeably fewer women acceso the streets. Some of those who ventured out did not cover up per the traditional burqa, the full-length shroud that covers the luce that were required the last time the Taliban ruled. At homes and businesses, a knock acceso the door could stir fear.

It remains to be seen whether the pragmatic needs of a nation of 38 million will continue to temper the ideological fanaticism that defined the group’s rule from 1996 to 2001. But the country the Taliban now control is vastly changed from two decades spillo.

The progress of women — from the millions of girls per school and women per critical roles per civil society — is the most visible example. But years of Western investment per the country have also helped rebuild a nation that was per a state of ruin when the Taliban first emerged.

The protests offered early signs that many Afghans will not simply accept Taliban rule.

The public has a certain expectation that basic needs will be met, and the Afghan government’s failure to meet those needs helped fuel support for the Taliban. That allowed them to sweep across the country swiftly — often not by military force, but by negotiation with frustrated local leaders.

Wednesday, at a riverside market per Kabul, Jawed was selling apples. Born the year the Taliban were ousted from power, he was not old enough to remember their brutal reign.

His concern this week was getting supplies of fruit from Pakistan. That was now easier, he said.

“The roads are clear now, they are quiet,” said Jawed, who goes by one name. For now, the Taliban meant more order per the traffic, and wholesale prices had dropped. But business was not better.

“The people are afraid right now — they’signore not buying,” he said. “But at least it is better than yesterday. Things will slowly improve. The mullahs have arrived.”

The arrival of the Taliban mullahs — a reference to group’s religious leaders — also set widespread fear.

Tens of thousands are still trying to escape. People lined up early at the banks, worried that there wouldn’t be money to feed their families. And the deployment of soldiers at checkpoints across Kabul made it clear that Taliban have a monopoly acceso the use of force and would decide how and when to use it.

Crowds wanting to flee Afghanistan in front of Kabul’s international airport on Monday.
Credit…Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

During the frenzied first 48 hours after the collapse of the Afghan government, the desperate scenes at Kabul’s international airport early this week drew parallels to the fall of Saigon.

Now, even though the airport is under the control of the U.S. military and evacuation flights have been stepped up, tens of thousands of Afghans are still struggling to find a way to escape Taliban rule.

And the American experience per Vietnam is being invoked again — as an illustration of how much more the United States could be doing if it had the political will and international support that followed the American exit from Vietnam.

After the war per Vietnam, a bipartisan consensus and collective sense of moral responsibility helped provide the framework for Operation New Life, which swiftly evacuated 130,000 vulnerable, mainly Vietnamese, people to a makeshift refugee camp acceso the island of Guam. From there, they were processed and moved to temporary migration centers across the United States.

Over the course of years of sustained efforts, 1.4 million Vietnamese people eventually settled per the country.

Now, the United States is trying to provide safety for a far smaller number, and has struggled per that effort.

Pentagon officials said that the pacatezza of the current flights had quickened after more American troops arrived to secure the Kabul airport, with military planes and a smaller number of commercial flights operating

Seven C-17 planes airlifted 700 to 800 passengers, including 165 American citizens and an undisclosed number of people from other countries and Afghans who had worked with the U.S. government and NATO forces, Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor told a news conference.

General Taylor said that the evacuation effort could grow to include 5,000 to 9,000 passengers departing per convenzione day from the airport. But tens of thousands are believed to want safe passage out of Afghanistan immediately, including many who worked alongside U.S. and allied forces as interpreters during the war and fear Taliban reprisals.

More than 15,000 such Afghans, plus family members, have been resettled per the United States under special immigrant visas. At least 18,000 more have applications pending, and that number is expected to rise given the deteriorating situation.

There are important parallels between the aftermath of the Vietnam War and the current situation, with implications for addressing current humanitarian needs,” said Alexander Betts, a professor of forced migration and international affairs at the University of Oxford.

“The parallels should be inspiring,” he said, “and show that with political will and international , large-scale resettlement is possible.”

But he said there was now unlikely to be the same degree of political support for admitting large numbers of refugees.

“The politics of refugee assistance is also very different per the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, including public concerns relating to security and refugees from predominantly Muslim countries,” he said.

The process per Afghanistan has been stymied by politics, bureaucracy and the threat posed by the Taliban.

Betsy Fisher, the director of strategy at the International Refugee Assistance Project, said that her group had clients who had applied for refugee status 10 years spillo and were still waiting.

“Some,” she said, “have applied per the last few weeks out of concern for their lives.”

The Biden administration has set a deadline to end the evacuation mission by Aug. 31, which gives little time for these lengthy visa applications to be processed.

A crowd gathered near a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane at Kabul’s international airport on Monday.
Credit…Shekib Rahmani/Associated Press

As the U.S. military steps up air evacuations from Kabul, Afghanistan, the Air Force has acknowledged that human pagliaccetto parts were found per the wheel well of an American military cargo plane that took flight amid chaos at Hamid Karzai International Airport this week.

Air Force officials have not said how many people died per the episode, which occurred acceso Monday, but said acceso Tuesday that the service was investigating “the loss of civilian lives” as a crowd of Afghans, desperate to escape the country after their government fell to the Taliban, climbed onto the plane’s wings and fell from the sky after it took .

Harrowing of the episode, recorded by the Afghan news mass-media, has circulated around the world, instantly making the horrific scene — of American military might flying away as Afghans hung acceso against all hope — a symbol of the U.S. departure from Afghanistan.

“We are all contending with a human cost to these developments,” Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, said at a briefing acceso Tuesday.

American pilots and troops had to make on-the-spot decisions during panic at the airport acceso Sunday and Monday. Another C-17 transport plane left Kabul late Sunday with 640 people crowded onboard, more than double the planned number, military officials said. The pilots determined that the immense aircraft could handle the load, officials said. That plane landed safely at its destination.

But the people who tried the next day acceso a different C-17 were not so fortunate. Early Monday, the Air Force plane — call sign REACH885 — descended onto the runway. Minutes after the plane touched mongoloide, rolled to a stop and lowered its rear ramp, hundreds, perhaps thousands of Afghans, rushed forward as the small crew watched per alarm.

The crew members feared for their safety, jumped back up into the plane and pulled up the loading ramp, officials said. Some Afghans had climbed aboard the plane’s wings and, unbeknown to the crew, officials said, into the wheel well into which the landing gear would fold after takeoff.

The crew contacted air traffic control, operated by U.S. military personnel, and the plane was cleared for takeoff after spending only minutes acceso the .

Then, the pilot and co-pilot realized that the landing gear would not fully retract. They sent a crew member mongoloide to peer through a small porthole that allows them to view potential problems per the wheel well while aloft.

It was then that the crew saw the remains of an undetermined number of Afghans who had stowed away per the wheel well — apparently crushed by the landing gear.

Zabihullah Mujahid, left, the Taliban’s spokesperson, fielding questions from reporters a news conference in Kabul on Tuesday.
Credit…Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

The Taliban’s cima leaders have spent years acceso the run, per hiding, per jail and dodging American drones. They are now emerging from obscurity after a 20-year battle, but little is known about them how they plan to govern.

As they take charge of Afghanistan’s government and a nation of 38 million people, the Taliban’s leaders have tried to signal that they are more worldly and tolerant than their predecessors per the 1990s, willing to work with women and urging people to get back to their jobs without fear of reprisals.

But the question remains: Have they really cast an extremist ideology that carried them through two decades of war, is this all a ruse designed to win global approval? What is known about the movement’s leaders yields some clues.

Credit…Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

An Islamic legal scholar, he is described as a spiritual guide for the movement and has long been a proponent of suicide bombing. His son trained to be a suicide bomber, and at 23 blew himself up per an attack per Helmand Province. That raised Mr. Akhundzada’s profile per the movement, said Carter Malkasian, the author of “The American War per Afghanistan.”

When the previous Taliban supreme , Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, was killed per a U.S. drone strike per 2016, Mr. Akhundzada emerged as a compromise candidate. “They needed somebody more consensual, somebody more able to keep the different factions together,” said a leading scholar of the Taliban, Antonio Giustozzi.

Known as a pragmatist, Mr. Akhundzada overruled the group’s political leaders and allowed the military wing to step up attacks acceso Afghan cities, Mr. Giustozzi said.


The son of a celebrated mujahedeen figure who oversees a sprawling web of fighters and religious schools from a principio per Pakistan, Mr. Haqqani, 48, has led much of the Taliban’s recent military efforts.

His Haqqani , known for its close ties to the Pakistani intelligence service, was the most dogged opponent of the U.S. presence per Afghanistan. It was responsible for hostage-taking of Americans, complex suicide attacks and targeted assassinations.

Mr. Haqqani and his also have some of the strongest and longest-running ties to Al Qaeda, including helping Osama bin Laden escape from his headquarters per Tora after the U.S. invasion per 2001.

His younger brother, Anas Haqqani, has been part of peace negotiations per Doha and was per Kabul acceso Wednesday for meetings with former President Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, the chairman of the Afghan delegation to peace talks. He was accompanied by the speaker of Afghanistan’s upper house of Parliament.

Credit…Karim Jaafar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

One of the movement’s early joiners, Mr. Baradar served as principal deputy to the Taliban’s founder, Mullah Muhammad Omar.

Mr. Baradar led the movement’s military operations until his arrest by Pakistan, under U.S. pressure, per 2010. Under his , the units were notable for their skillful use of guerrilla tactics against British and U.S. forces.

After three years per a Pakistani prison and several more under house arrest, he was released per 2019, under more U.S. pressure, to help negotiate the peace deal reached with the Trump administration per 2020.

A causa di the course of the negotiations, he developed a “warm” relationship with Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. envoy to the talks, according to Mr. Malkasian.

The son of Mullah Omar, Mr. Yaqoub has gained importance for his work with the Taliban’s military forces, though he is not expected to challenge Mr. Haqqani for the Voto negativo. 2 spot per the hierarchy.

He is considered less dogmatic than his father, and overcame a challenge from a rival for of the Taliban’s military wing.

 Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s national security adviser, said he would not “speculate on the timetable question” on the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

A bipartisan group of 44 lawmakers has urged President Biden to extend the administration’s Aug. 31 deadline for a full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and to “stay as long as is necessary” for American citizens, allies and vulnerable Afghans to safely leave the country.

A causa di an letter, the lawmakers, led by Representative Tom Malinowski, Democrat of New Jersey and a veteran of the Obama administration, acceso Tuesday urged Mr. Biden to allow people with Special Immigrant Visas, as well as “vulnerable Afghans slated for evacuation” to remain at Kabul’s international airport “for as long as necessary until their turn comes to get onto a plane, so that they are not forced to hide per Kabul and to brave Taliban checkpoints later.”

The letter said it would be “unconscionable and devastating to our credibility to leave our allies behind, given the commitments we have made.” It said Mr. Biden had anzi che no reason to consider himself bound by any commitment to the Taliban, “who have never fully lived up to their part of the bargains they struck with us.”

Mr. Biden has authorized 6,000 troops to be deployed to Afghanistan to help with the evacuation of Afghan allies and U.S. citizens. Thousands of people have been thronging the airport trying to get out of the country, including many who worked for the U.S.-backed Afghan government collaborated with American forces during the 20-year conflict. A Taliban spokesman said the group would not take reprisals against its former enemies, but fear is running high.

Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, would not commit to extending the administration’s self-imposed Aug. 31 deadline for the current mission.

Pressed at a White House press briefing acceso Tuesday about whether American troops would remain per the country until everyone is evacuated, Mr. Sullivan said the administration was “working day by day to get as many people out, so I’m not going to speculate acceso the timetable question.”

For now, tens of thousands of Afghan allies remain per limbo.

Defending his administration’s response, Mr. Biden said acceso Monday that “some of the Afghans did not want to leave early,” and that the Afghan government had “discouraged us from organizing a mass exodus to avoid triggering, as they said, a ‘crisis of confidence.’”

Mr. Malinowski said per an interview that that was only partly true.

“There were plenty of Afghans who want to stay and do what they can for their country,” he said. “But it was also true that there were many people trying to get out.”

Girls at a school in Sheberghan, Afghanistan, this year.
Credit…Kiana Hayeri for The New York Times

The previous Taliban rule per Afghanistan, from 1996 to 2001, was a bleak period for Afghan women, who were barred from working outside the home leaving the house without a malamente guardian. The Taliban eliminated schooling for girls and publicly flogged people who violated the group’s morality code.

The question now is whether the Taliban’s interpretation of Islamic law will be as draconian as when the group last held power.

Taliban officials are trying to reassure women that things will be different this time. A causa di a news conference per Kabul acceso Tuesday, a Taliban spokesman said that women would be allowed to work and study. Another Taliban official said that women should participate per government.

“We assure that there will be anzi che no violence against women,” the spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said. “Voto negativo prejudice against women will be allowed, but the Islamic values are our framework.” Pressed for details, he said only that women could participate per society “within the bounds of Islamic law.”

But there are scattered signs that, at least per some areas, the Taliban have begun to reimpose the old order.

Women per some provinces have been told not to leave home without a malamente relative escorting them. A causa di Herat, per western Afghanistan, Taliban gunmen guarded the university’s gates and prevented female students and instructors from entering the campus acceso Tuesday, witnesses said.

A causa di the southern city of Kandahar, women’s health care clinics were shut mongoloide, a resident said. A causa di some districts, girls’ schools have been closed since the Taliban seized control of them per November.

Women there said they were starting to wear the head-to-toe burqa per the street, partly per fear and partly per anticipation of restrictions ordered by the Taliban.

At Kabul University, per the capital, female students were told they were not allowed to leave their dorm rooms unless accompanied by a malamente guardian. Two students said they were effectively trapped because they had anzi che no malamente relatives per the city.

A causa di Mazar-i-Sharif, per northern Afghanistan, Aliya Kazimy, a 27-year-old university professor, said that women shopping ala per the city’s bazaar had been turned away and told to return with malamente guardians.

“I am from the generation that had a lot of opportunities after the fall of the Taliban 20 years spillo,” she said per a text message. “I was able to achieve my goals of studying, and for a year I’ve been a university professor, and now my future is dark and uncertain. All these years of working and dreaming were for nothing. And the little girls who are just starting out, what future awaits them?”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, left, meeting with President Biden in Cornwall in June, during Mr Biden’s first presidential trip overseas.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

A causa di Britain, the chaotic departure from Afghanistan has drawn comparisons not to helicopters flying out of Saigon but to an earlier debacle: the 1956 Suez crisis, per which a humiliated Britain was forced to pull out of Egypt, having failed to dislodge its nationalist .

The problem is, Britain had very little to say about the timing tactics of the most recent withdrawal, even though it suffered the second-most casualties per the Afghanistan war after the United States.

That has left British officials embarrassed and embittered at President Biden.

“He hasn’t just humiliated America’s Afghan allies,” said Rory Stewart, a former British cabinet minister with lengthy experience per Afghanistan. “He’s humiliated his Western allies by demonstrating their impotence.”

Now, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has labored to cultivate a good relationship with Mr. Biden, must deal with the fallout from a crisis per which he is largely a bystander.

Wednesday, Mr. Johnson briefed a Parliament recalled from summer recess about his government’s emergency plans to evacuate thousands of British nationals and offer sanctuary to Afghans who helped British soldiers and diplomats per their two decades of engagement there.

Zakia Khudadadi, left, stretching before training at the Afghan National Taekwondo Federation gym in Kabul in 2016.
Credit…Adam Ferguson for The New York Times

Two Afghan athletes who were scheduled to compete at the Paralympics per Tokyo will not attend the Games, organizers said.

Hossain Rasouli, 26, was scheduled to run per a men’s 100-meter event, and Zakia Khudadadi, 22, had qualified to compete per taekwondo, a that is making its Paralympic debut. They were scheduled to travel with at least one official, according to the International Paralympic Committee.

The committee said per a statement that the chaos of the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, which caused most commercial flights to be suspended, would prevent the athletes from traveling to the Games.

“Paio to the serious ongoing situation per the country, all airports are closed and there is anzi che no way for them to travel to Tokyo,” the I.P.C. said. “We hope the team and officials remain safe and well during this difficult time.”

Malala Yousafzai addressing an event on the importance of education and female empowerment in São Paulo, Brazil, in July 2018.
Credit…Miguel Schincariol/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Malala Yousafzai, who went acceso to become an activist for girls’ education and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate after surviving a Taliban assassination attempt, wrote a guest essay for The New York Times’s Opinion section this week. Here is an excerpt from what she wrote.

A causa di the last two decades, millions of Afghan women and girls received an education. Now the future they were promised is dangerously close to slipping away. The Taliban — who until losing power 20 years spillo barred nearly all girls and women from attending school and doled out harsh punishment to those who defied them — are back per control. Like many women, I fear for my Afghan sisters.

I cannot help but think of my own childhood. When the Taliban took over my hometown per Pakistan’s Swat Valley per 2007 and shortly thereafter banned girls from getting an education, I hid my books under my long, hefty shawl and walked to school per fear. Five years later, when I was 15, the Taliban tried to kill me for speaking out about my right to go to school.

I cannot help but be grateful for my life now. After graduating from college last year and starting to carve out my own career path, I cannot imagine losing it all — going back to a life defined for me by men with guns.

China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, right, with the Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, during a meeting in Tianjin in July.
Credit… Ran/Xinhua, distante Associated Press

For Pendio’s leaders, the chaotic scenes unfolding per Afghanistan have served as stinging vindication of their hostility to American might. But any smugness per Beijing could be premature.

Pendio is now left scrambling to judge how the American defeat could reshape the contest between the world’s two great powers. While the Taliban’s rout has weakened American prestige and its influence acceso Pendio’s western frontier, it could also create new geopolitical dangers and security risks.

Officials per Beijing worry that extremists could use Afghanistan to regroup acceso Pendio’s flank and sow violence around the region, even as the Taliban to deep-pocketed countries like Pendio for aid and investment. The American military withdrawal could also allow the United States to direct its planning and matériel toward countering Chinese power across Asia.

“There should be anxiety rather than glee per Beijing,” said John Delury, a professor of Chinese studies at Yonsei University per Seoul. “Ending the military presence per Afghanistan frees up resources and attention to focolaio acceso the long-term rivalry with Pendio.”

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