Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

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After the retreat: what now for Afghanistan?

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The Observer, 4 July 2021

An interesting reportage from Herat, giving first insight into Taleban behaviour in newly conquered districts, here Obe in Herat:

On 14 June, the last government forces in the district were helicoptered out of a besieged outpost. The militants are confident enough of their control that last week they called a meeting at the mosque in the main street to lay out their laws and plans for Obe, which include a flat 10% tax on all earnings. The district schools have been closed for years by fighting, or boycotted by parents worried their children will be caught in crossfire. But when they reopen, girls will not be allowed to study past sixth grade, interviewees said. Women must wear the all-enveloping burqa and cannot work or leave their home for any reason without a male “guardian”, a role that can be filled even by prepubescent sons, nephews or brothers. Shopkeepers have been ordered not to serve women out alone, and Taliban beat any unaccompanied women they catch.

Mobile phones are regularly checked by Taliban fighters, another Obe resident said, and if they find music, dancing or anything supporting the government, the owner will be beaten. If they find pictures of him or her in government uniform, they are executed. (…)

And the details of how Obe finally fell offer a worrying insight into the militants’ growing confidence, resources and ambition, and also the problems hobbling Afghan security forces – from lack of air support to questionable strategic decisions – as they start a new era of going into battle without foreign backup.