Una tenaza mortal en Afganistán

El día de Nochebuena, a las seis en punto de la mañana, me despertó el sonido de mi teléfono móvil. “¿Has oído los rumores de que no van a permitir trabajar a las mujeres?”. El mensaje de texto venía de Kabul. Era de una joven a la que conocí en Afganistán cuando estuve allí para documentar el primer año del regreso de los talibanes al poder. Me había hablado de su infancia feliz, su ambiciosa época universitaria, su cruel caída y, ahora, un futuro anulado. Soñaba con ser jueza y era una de las mejores de su promoción de Derecho. Ariana era una de las afganas que amaban Estados Unidos; tenía Netflix en el móvil y a Beyoncé en los oídos y aguardaba con ilusión las oportunidades que podía darle una buena educación.…  Seguir leyendo »

The World Has Fallen for the Taliban’s Lies Once Again

I was a first-year medical student at Kabul University when, on Sept. 26, 1996, Taliban fighters swept in and seized the capital. It was a Thursday. I remember that clearly because I was rushing to finish schoolwork due by the weekend. Those assignments were suddenly no longer required. By the next day, the Taliban had announced that all women and girls were henceforth banned “until further notice” from schools, workplaces or even appearing in public without a male companion present.

For the next five years, until U.S.-led international forces ended the Taliban’s reign of terror in 2001, an Afghan woman’s view of the world was through the windows of her home.…  Seguir leyendo »

Imagina nacer mujer en el infierno de Afganistán

El reciente asesinato de la exdiputada afgana Mursal Nabizada en su casa de Kabul ha vuelto a poner de manifiesto la violencia indiscriminada, amparada y promovida por el emirato talibán, que sufren las mujeres en Afganistán.

Su muerte es otra muesca en la culata del rifle de los yihadistas. Otra voz libre silenciada por las armas que el mundo esconderá debajo de la alfombra para no hacer nada. Son afganas que casi no le importan a nadie y cuyo pasaporte, la única herramienta que tiene para escapar, es papel mojado.

La nacionalidad y el sexo con el que nacemos son puro azar.…  Seguir leyendo »

Afghan women protesting against the university ban in Kabul on 22 December 2022. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

In the past 15 months or so, life has changed unrecognisably for Afghanistan’s women and girls. Speak to secondary school pupils, their parents and education activists, and you will hear just how devastating the impact of the Taliban’s school closures have been. It is hard to fathom the depth of the darkness that has emerged as a consequence of this action.

Girls are dealing with the psychological fallout of being cut off from their classmates and social networks. Many are struggling with severe depression. Since secondary schools were closed, child marriage has increased dramatically. Suicide rates among women and girls have been steadily rising since the Taliban’s return to power.…  Seguir leyendo »

Afghan girls at a private institute in Kabul, Afghanistan, on 9 November 2022. Photograph: EPA

This week, the Taliban made a bombshell announcement that they will ban women from attending university or teaching in Afghanistan. It is a decision that has done more in a single day to entrench discrimination against women and girls and set back their empowerment than any other single policy decision I can remember.

Since the Taliban returned to power, girls have been banned from attending secondary school. Now they are being banned from primary school. Thousands of female government workers have been told to stay at home. Other recent rulings prevent women from travelling without a male relative or attending mosques or religious seminaries.…  Seguir leyendo »

Empty seats reserved for female students at Mirwais Neeka Institute of Higher Education in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on Wednesday. (EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

In the autumn of 2020, during the pandemic’s bleakest days, one of my students at the School of Leadership, Afghanistan drew a picture.

It depicts a tent in a field ringed by mountains. The tent is blue fabric, staked to the ground at its corners with a mesh opening in one of its walls. Behind the mesh, obscured, stands a woman. She holds strings of colorful balloons, the strings extending out through the mesh, and she is releasing them, one by one, and letting them rise into the air.

The girl who drew the picture, this young Afghan artist, explained it this way: The blue tent is the blue burqa.…  Seguir leyendo »

The fall of Kabul to the Taliban in August of 2021 left a consolation prize for the Afghans who stood by the United States for 20 years: They would be brought to safety in our country to begin life anew. That was the fragile promise they hung on to when the country they knew was lost.

For a while, it looked like a commitment that Americans would keep.

Last year, after what President Biden called America’s longest war culminated in one of the largest airlifts in U.S. history, some 80,000 Afghans were hastily evacuated to military bases in the United States.…  Seguir leyendo »

Taliban supporters, Kabul, Afghanistan, August 2022. Ali Khara / TPX images of the day / Reuters

One year ago, in the aftermath of the Taliban’s return to power in Kabul, Western policy was pushing Afghanistan to the brink of collapse. Humanitarian groups warned that U.S. sanctions and other restrictions were choking the Afghan economy and could lead to famine, large-scale migration, and regional instability. In a series of quick decisions that may have saved millions of lives, the United States and like-minded countries changed course, taking action to mitigate the catastrophe they had left behind in Afghanistan. The United States granted the most sweeping exemptions in the history of U.S. sanctions and, with Western allies, sent planeloads of humanitarian aid to the country.…  Seguir leyendo »

Afghan female students chant "Education is our right, genocide is a crime" in Herat on Oct. 2, two days after a bomb attack in a learning center in Kabul. (Mohsen Karimi/AFP/Getty Images)

Hearts may break, but spirits do not. So listen, murderers of Afghan women. There is steel in us, forged in fires that have burned across generations. You underestimate the strength of steel.

In Kabul on the morning of Sept. 30, nearly 400 young Afghans, primarily members of my country’s Hazara ethnic minority, were gathered inside a tutoring center to take a practice college entrance exam. They were separated by sex per Taliban-imposed restrictions, the girls in one area, the boys in another. The girls outnumbered the boys, as the Taliban’s closure of girls’ schools had made privately run centers such as this one the only places where girls could hope to continue their education.…  Seguir leyendo »

Afghanistan’s central bank remains hostage to political drama, with perilous results for 20m Afghans on the brink of starvation. Arguments over its frozen assets abroad have raged since the Taliban seized back control of the country in August 2021. In a standoff between the Taliban and America, there is a desperate need to find low-key solutions for reviving the financial sector, and thus the Afghan economy, despite the mutual hostility that persists.

I have worked in Afghanistan since 2005, most recently researching the economic crisis. In the local bazaars, most people have never heard of “monetary stability”—but they suffer from a lack of it.…  Seguir leyendo »

Las caras de los amigos muertos en Afganistán no se borran de la mente. Tampoco los gritos de los civiles tras las matanzas salvajes, o la visión del color pálido y amarillento de la muerte atrapando los cuerpecitos destrozados de los niños.

Nadie puede curar la llaga emocional que produce escuchar el gorgoteo de un herido expirando. O los ojos rezumando locura en la cara de los soldados de la extinta Republica afgana, traicionados por el Gobierno y sus valedores occidentales.

Hay heridas que, de tan profundas, sólo se cerrarán con la muerte. Heridas que te empujan al pozo oscuro y sin fin del todo fue en vano.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Taliban delegation attending international talks on Afghanistan in Moscow, October 2021. Alexander Zemlianichenko / Reuters

One year after the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan, it is clear that the extremist group has changed little since it first seized control of the country in 1996. In March 2022, the Taliban decided not to reopen girls’ secondary schools throughout the country—as it had vowed to do just two days earlier—putting an end to any hopes that the group would rule the country differently this time around. And, in the weeks since a CIA drone strike killed al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri in a leafy Kabul enclave, it has become even more clear that the Taliban continues to harbor terrorist groups.…  Seguir leyendo »

Taliban supporters celebrating the first anniversary of the U.S. withdrawal in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 2022. Ali Khara / Reuters

One year ago, the democratic government of Afghanistan collapsed. The humiliating evacuation of U.S. military forces and civilians as well as roughly 100,000 Afghans remains a sore spot for Washington and its allies. The Taliban regime has ruled the country ever since. Levels of violence throughout the country have been dramatically reduced—but so, too, have the rights of women, the freedom of the media, and the safety of those who supported the overthrown democratic government. Questions about the new state of affairs abound. Should the international community recognize the Taliban? Will the Taliban moderate themselves? Can diplomacy or sanctions compel them to do so?…  Seguir leyendo »

In August 2021, all US soldiers left Afghanistan, enabling the Taliban to take over the country. Since then, the Taliban have installed a theocracy that bans women from most jobs and bars girls over the age of 12 from attending school, while maintaining close relationships with terrorist groups, such as al Qaeda.

The Taliban today control more of Afghanistan than they did the last time they were in power before the 9/11 attacks. And they are better armed since they now possess American armored vehicles and M16 rifles left behind as the US military headed for the exits.

For the past year, a group known as the National Resistance Front has waged a guerrilla war against the Taliban.…  Seguir leyendo »

EL 5 de mayo de 2021, el decano de la Facultad de Filología de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Eugenio Luján, hacía entrega a los representantes de la Embajada de Afganistán en España de los primeros mil libros que debían conformar la Biblioteca Básica del Español en la Universidad de Kabul. Aquel acto era, a un tiempo, la culminación de un proyecto que, desde el Vicedecanato de Cultura, había coordinado en 2019 –y que se vio interrumpido por la pandemia del Covid–, y el inicio de un ambicioso programa de apoyo a los estudios de español en Kabul, donde estaba implicada también la Embajada de España en Afganistán, que culminaría con becas y formación de profesores afganos para que completaran en España sus estudios de posgrado.…  Seguir leyendo »

El día en que cayó Kabul la embajada China bloqueó sus puertas, pero nadie huyó o corrió a refugiarse en los búnkeres. El complejo diplomático situado al lado del Palacio Presidencial no pensó en evacuar, ni tampoco se preparó para un posible asalto. El 15 de agosto de 2021, mientras el aeropuerto Hamid Karzai era un hervidero de gente desesperada y del cielo llovían los cuerpos de los afganos agarrándose a las ruedas de los aviones norteamericanos de transporte C-17, el personal diplomático chino estaba tranquilo y ajeno, salvo excepciones, ante una ciudad presa del pánico.

Pekín había pactado de antemano la seguridad de sus ciudadanos y la de sus lucrativos negocios en Afganistán.…  Seguir leyendo »

Afganistán: lecciones de una guerra

En su clásica Historia de las Relaciones Internacionales, Renouvin destaca distintos factores que condicionan las guerras; entre ellos, los intereses nacionales, el deseo de prestigio personal o, incluso, el temperamento de los gobernantes. Un año después de la vergonzosa retirada de Afganistán y tras la invasión rusa de Ucrania, las lecciones de la Historia resultan especialmente necesarias para evitar errores similares. El penoso final de la intervención internacional en Afganistán, pese a sus indudables logros, evidencia la preminencia del interés nacional del aliado OTAN más poderoso, Estados Unidos.

Como el coronel Calvo Albero analizó en el Instituto Español de Estudios Estratégicos, "en el trasfondo del fracaso está la falta de un liderazgo sólido, debido al desinterés estadounidense por las operaciones en un país remoto y con escaso valor estratégico".…  Seguir leyendo »

National Resistance Front soldiers in Panjshir, Afghanistan, August 2021. Handout / Reuters

A year has passed since the fall of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the return of the Taliban to power in Kabul. Despite its troubles, Afghanistan before August 2021 was a free, democratic country; now it is in a state of turmoil and anarchy. It is on the brink of the worst humanitarian crisis in modern times, with its economy in tatters and its people facing acute food insecurity. Human trafficking and drug trafficking are on the rise. The killing of the al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul points to the persisting ties between the Taliban and transnational terrorist groups.…  Seguir leyendo »

Acting Taliban Defense Minister Mullah Yaqoob Mujahid (left) with other Taliban leaders, Kabul, August 15, 2022. Ali Khara / Reuters

It is difficult to overstate the multiple crises facing Afghanistan. With severe shortages and sky-high food prices, the World Food Program has reported that more than half the population is “marching to starvation”; an astonishing 97 percent of the population is at risk of falling below the poverty line by the end of 2022. Meanwhile, the Afghan government, with its profound disenfranchisement of women—girls older than 12 have been banned from school—has become the most gender repressive in the world. Western intelligence experts are also concerned that the country is once again becoming a haven for terrorist groups, as was made clear by the recent U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Taliban fighter holds a pistol during celebrations in Kabul on Aug. 15. (Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images)

For many Afghans like me — young activists, journalists, writers, academics — Aug. 15 marks the anniversary of the day we saw our dreams collapse like a Jenga tower. And yet, here we are.

After the Taliban took full control of the country, many of us decided to stay — far from disappearing, we vowed to take up space so that the Taliban would be forced to acknowledge us. That meant participating in aid efforts and asserting our presence on international platforms to promote engagement.

For me, facing Taliban rule meant going from teaching nonviolent political action to university students to practicing it myself.…  Seguir leyendo »