The same people who killed 2,900 people in New York almost twenty years ago are back in power in Afghanistan. Yes, the Taliban, the terrorist group that coordinated with Al Qaeda the collapse of the Twin Towers, has now taken over an entire country. A nation in the hands of a terrorist group. A new sanctuary for organized crime in the Middle East.
It happened before Joe Biden’s eyes and after a fruitless war lasting over two decades. The world went back to square one, meaning the United States suffered a humiliating defeat. Many now say, like veteran Jordan Blashek, “Did my fellow soldiers die in vain?” So much suffering, so much expense, so much pain, for nothing? Ben Shapiro said a couple of hours ago that no, it was for something, that “the sacrifice of military women and men was not in vain. They managed to keep the United States safe from terrorism for two decades”. Well, yes, but no: they are back and, even if we hope not, terror will likely return.
Now they have more power than ever. The Taliban is back and now even controls more than it did when the Americans stepped in and intervened in Afghanistan 20 years ago. And now have more money: Millions in contracts and minerals. And China is there, intent on occupying the space previously held by the White House.
The hope today lies in the fact that these newcomers are different from those the United States overthrew twenty years ago. With utter naiveté, we lie to ourselves to justify our mistakes and mediocrity: these are different, they are moderate and have good intentions. And then one sees such depressing spectacles, like the State Department spokesman asking the Taliban to form an inclusive government. Or the United Nations issuing a communiqué insisting that the new Afghan government must respect human rights. Or Europe getting in touch with the new sheriff in town. Statements, recommendations, exhortations, in any case, to a terrorist group. The ones kill, exploit, behead and stone without shame.
The journalist Masih Alinejad, who knows very well what Islamic fundamentalism is capable of and who has first-hand knowledge of terror, puts it bluntly in an article in the Washington Post: “The Taliban says it will respect women. But we Iranians have seen this movie before.”
“Let’s be under no illusion,” says Alinejad, “this is a disaster for women in the region.”
“Yes, the Taliban has changed: it has become more sophisticated in using Western media to advance its agenda. The reality on the streets of Kabul tells a different story. The Taliban is already covering up photographs of women from billboards and street posters. Soon, women will be erased from the public sphere. We saw the beginning of this movie in Iran 42 years ago,” writes Alinejad.
They say they are moderate, but as the Iranian journalist makes clear, they are not. And behind the façade they present to the media, there is the reality, which is happening today: protesters killed, girls forced into marriage, hunt for “traitors” and a woman killed for not wearing a burqa. These are the people who are in power in Afghanistan today.
At a press conference from Kabul, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid promised that the new government would be inclusive, resemble a democracy, and respect freedoms, human and women’s rights. However, he added one condition. There is a but, clearly. “We assure that we will not allow any prejudice against women,” Mujahid said, “but within the framework of Islamic values.” In other words, yes there will be prejudice. Yes, there will be oppression. Yes, there will be violence. Yes, there will be terror. Because, and it is shocking to have to remind this, the Taliban is a terrorist organization.