Some 5,000 troops from member states of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) on Oct. 18 initiated military maneuvers code-named "Echelon-2021," Search-2021" and "Interaction-2021" in Tajikistan near the border with Afghanistan. More than half of the troops involved are Russian. Gen. Anatoly Sidorov, head of the CSTO joint staff, said in a statement: "We pay special attention to the Central Asian region. The situation around the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan remains the main source of instability. This is why we are holding three drills simultaneously for the first time as part of the joint training."
The Shi'ite Hazara people of Afghanistan were targeted for genocide by the Taliban when the fundamentalist militant group was last in power, and Amnesty International now reports that new massacres targeting the ethnicity have already started. Taliban forces unlawfully killed 13 ethnic Hazaras, including a 17-year-old girl, in Daykundi province after members of the security forces of the former government surrendered, the Amnesty investigation revealed. The killings happened in Kahor village of Khidir district on Aug. 30. Eleven of the victims were former members of the Afghan National Defense Security Forces (ANDSF), and two were civilians. According to eyewitness testimony, the Taliban extrajudicially executed nine of the ANDSF members at a nearby river basin after they had surrendered, killings that "appear to be war crimes." The two civilians were killed as they attempted to flee, including a 17-year-old girl shot when the Taliban opened fire on a crowd of people.
The Taliban are steadily "dismantling the human rights gains of the last 20 years," said Amnesty International in a new briefing issued jointly with the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), documenting the militant group's wide-ranging crackdown since their seizure of Kabul little more than five weeks ago. Contrary to the Taliban’s repeated claims that they will respect the rights of Afghans, the briefing, entitled "Afghanistan's Fall Into the Hands of the Taliban," details a litany of human rights abuses including targeted killings of civilians and surrendered soldiers, and the blockading of humanitarian supplies into the Panjshir Valley, which constitute crimes under international law. Restrictions have also been re-imposed on women, freedom of expression and civil society.
Protests broke out in the traditional Taliban stronghold of Kandahar on Sept. 14, as the city's new administrators issued an order that the families of soldiers in the vanquished Afghan army vacate a military-owned housing complex where they had been living for years. In a demonstration led by women, thousands took to the streets and marched on the provincial governor's house to protest the eviction order. The some 3,000 families, many of whom have lived in the complex for 20 years, were given three days to vacate. (Khaama, Reuters)
The Taliban used gunfire, beatings and arrests to disperse scores of protesters who marched through Kabul on Sept. 7—the largest demonstration the Afghan capital has seen since the militant group seized power last month. Videos shared on social media showed activists shouting in support of resistance fighters in the Panjshir Valley—and chanting against Pakistan, which they view as backing the Taliban. In the footage, protesters can be heard shouting "Death to Pakistan" as they marched toward the presidential palace. (Khaama, CNN)
The Taliban on Sept. 6 announced that they have taken the Panjshir Valley from the incipient National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRFA). In an audio statement from an undisclosed location, NRFA leader Ahamd Masoud pledged to carry on the fight, and called upon Afghans to launch a national uprising against the Taliban. Another NRFA leader, Fahmi Dashti, was reported killed in the battle for the Valley. News sources in India claimed he met his death in a targeted drone strike launched by Pakistan. (Khaama, NDTV, WION, WaPo)
Women marched in Afghanistan's northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif Sept. 6, demanding that their rights be protected and their voices heard in the new government now being formed. Signs read "We want political participation at all levels." They also declared that they would refuse to take the burqa, the full-body covering that was compulsory for women the last time that the Taliban were in power. Thus far, officials of the Taliban's self-declared "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" have only demanded that women wear the abaya in public—a less restrictive covering that may be worn with either a niqab or hijab.
In Episode 87 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg calls out revisionist online propaganda telling us (for instance) that Ronald Reagan in 1985 called the Taliban the "equivalent of America's Founding Fathers"—when the Taliban actually didn't even exist back then, and he actually said that about the Nicaraguan Contras. Meanwhile, the more idiotic sectors of the "anti-imperialist" left, which proclaimed "Hail Red Army in Afghanistan" during the Soviet intervention 40 years ago, are now taking unabashed glee at the Taliban takeover. Rather than viewing the Afghan people as pawns on the geopolitical chessboard or fodder for cheap propaganda, Weinberg calls for active solidarity with groups like the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), and the feminists and secularists who have chosen to stay behind and continue speaking out—at great risk to themselves. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.