Afghanistan
Kandahar

Afghan protests continue despite repression

Protests broke out in the traditional Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, 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. The demonstration came days after the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights released a statement condemning the Taliban’s mounting violence against peaceful protestors in Afghanistan. (Photo: Khaama)

Afghanistan
ground zero

Podcast: 9-11 and the GWOT at 20

In Episode 88 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg revisits his predictions from 20 years ago and from a month ago about what the world would look like on the 20th anniversary of 9-11. The attack, and Dubya Bush’s Global War on Terrorism, did not lead to a wave of new attacks within the US, as the jihad has proved more concerned with the struggle within Islam. But this has meant an invisible catastrophe for the Muslim world. The ongoing wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen get at least some international media attention. There are many more nearly forgotten wars and genocides: the serial massacres in Pakistan, the insurgency in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, the Boko Haram war in Nigeria that is now spilling into Cameroon, the mounting massacres in the Sahel nations. Even the insurgency in Somalia, where the US has had a military footprint, wins little coverage—despite the fact that it is spilling into Kenya. The insurgency in Mozambique has now prompted an African-led multinational military intervention. The insurgency on the Philippine island of Mindanao has been met with air-strikes. All waged by entities claiming loyalty to either al-Qaeda or ISIS. The new imperial doctrine appears to be that this violence is acceptable as long as it is not visited upon the West. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: CounterVortex)

Afghanistan
kabul repression

Taliban repress anti-Pakistan protest in Kabul

The Taliban used gunfire, beatings and arrests to disperse scores of protesters who marched through Kabul—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. (Photo: Khaama)

Afghanistan
mazar

Afghanistan: women protest Taliban rule

Women marched in Afghanistan’s northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, 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. Days earlier, a women’s protest raising similar demands in Kabul was dispersed by Taliban fighters who fired their rifles in the air. Women also held a protest demanding their rights to work and education in the western city of Herat. At a Kabul press conference, a Taliban spokesperson said that protest is the right of all Afghans, but also called on women to be “cautious.” The spokesperson said that women will be given their “Islamic rights,” while adding that they will have to wait for announcement of the new government to see exactly what that will mean. (Photo: Khaama)

Afghanistan
afghanistan

Afghanistan: no, the war is not over

With absurd hubris, Biden in his speech as the last US troops left Kabul declared that “the United States ended 20 years of war in Afghanistan.” It’s perverse enough that he called the US evacuation of some 120,000 Afghans and Americans an “extraordinary success”—despite the fact that more than 100 US nationals and many thousands of desperate Afghans were left behind. But this reality-denying “ended the war” rhetoric is being uncritically echoed by media accounts. The war in Afghanistan began in 1979, with the massive Soviet military intervention to put down the Mujahedeen, and the country hasn’t seen a moment of peace since then. Nor is there much prospect for peace any time in foreseeable future. This is the same imperial narcissism we heard with the much-hyped US “withdrawal” from Afghanistan in 2014, and the “withdrawal” from Iraq in 2011. But this time, Afghanistan is essentially being turned over to the Taliban as a US-collaborationist or even near-proxy force to fight ISIS. The Taliban remain a brutal, intolerant and ultra-reactionary Islamist entity, but are now baited as co-opted moderates by the even more extremist ISIS. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

Afghanistan
Andarabi

Afghan folksinger executed by Taliban

The Taliban killed an Afghan folk musician  days after stating that they would ban music from being played in public places. Fawad Andarabi was shot dead by Taliban fighters who arrived at his farm in Andarab district, Baghlan province. The district is near the Panjshir Valley that harbors a resistance force rejecting Taliban rule. Four days earlier, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid told the New York Times: “Music is forbidden in Islam, but we’re hoping that we can persuade people not to do such things, instead of pressuring them.” Andarabi played the ghichak, a bowed lute, and sang traditional songs about his birthplace and people. Former Interior Minister Masoud Andarabi (presumably no relation but from the same district) tweeted that the musician had recently sung that “our beautiful valley, land of our forefathers” would not submit to Taliban rule. (Photo via Digital Music News)

Afghanistan
kabul protest

Afghanistan: Taliban unleash first terror

As the Taliban, now in full control of Kabul, pledge an “inclusive” Afghan government in prepared press statements, deadly repression against anti-Taliban protesters is reported from the eastern city of Jalalabad. The day before Afghanistan’s independence day, protesters took to the streets of Jalalabad waving the black, red and green national flag—and tearing down the white and black Tawhid flag of the Taliban. Witnesses said Taliban fighters fired on protesters indiscriminately, and at least three were killed. On the day that Afghanistan won full independence from Britain in 1919, a similar protest was held in Khost, where social media videos again show Taliban fighters firing on demonstrators. No casualties were reported, but the city has been placed under a 24-hour curfew. A small demonstration by women demanding that their rights be respected was held  outside a police precinct in Kabul. “We want the rights we’ve had for the past 20 years,” signs read.  (Photo via Twitter)

Afghanistan
Ghor women

Afghan women take up arms against Taliban

As the US withdraws and the Taliban advance across large stretches of Afghanistan, women are taking up weapons in local militias to defend their villages. In Ghor province, ethnic Hazara women posed for social-media photos wielding rifles and rocket-launchers, pledging to resist by arms a return to “the dark era of Taliban.” With US and NATO forces evacuating Bagram Air Base, prelude to a full withdrawal by September, the Taliban are rapidly seizing territory. Since launching a spring offensive, the Taliban have doubled their area of control, and now hold nearly 100 of Afghanistan’s 407 districts. In retreat, the central government is calling upon civilians to form militias to fight back. (Photo via Twitter)

Greater Middle East
Istanbul pride

Turkish police disperse Istanbul pride parade

Turkish riot police used tear-gas and rubber bullets to disrupt Istanbul’s annual pride parade after the the governor’s office refused to grant a permit for the event. Police arrested dozens of marchers, as well as journalists who were covering the event. The police attack comes amid a period of mounting hostility against the nation’s LGBTIQ+ community. The pride parade has been held annually since 2003, despite being officially banned since 2014. Videos shared on social media show hundreds of people gathered on Istiklal Ave., a popular tourist destination, chanting “Rainbow is not a crime, discrimination is.” (Image via Madonna Turkey)

North Africa
Libya girls

New Libyan government: progress for women

Libya’s Government of National Accord officially handed power over to a new interim government in Tripoli. This is the fruit of a long and complicated UN-led process with multi-track negotiations. The new leadership faces multiple challenges, including holding elections and restoring much-needed government services. It also needs to unite a country that has largely been in chaos since the overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi, helped by NATO’s decision (exactly 10 years ago) to intervene. The new cabinet contains five women, including the ministers of foreign affairs and justice. Together they make up 15% of the leadership—not the 30% delegates to the UN process had promised. But many Libyan women are viewing this as at least a step in the right direction. (Photo: WikiMedia Commons)

Greater Middle East
Istanbul Convention

Turkey drops treaty on violence against women

Turkey withdrew from the Council of Europe’s convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, popularly known as the Istanbul Convention, by presidential decree. The Istanbul Convention is the first legally binding instrument in Europe to combat violence against women. Turkey was the first country to sign the convention the day it was launched in the city of Istanbul in 2011. The withdrawal comes as femicides and domestic violence cases are on the rise in Turkey. Thousands immediately took to the streets in protest of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s decision. (Photo via Twitter)

Afghanistan
afghan army

Afghanistan: US withdrawal on hold?

With a May 1 deadline for withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan approaching but a final peace deal stalled, the White House is said to be considering an extension beyond this date for removal of its 2,500 troops remaining in the country. “Intra-Afghan” negotiations between the Taliban and Kabul opened in Doha in September, but remain deadlocked over fundamentals of the power-sharing deal—with the Taliban rejecting President Ashraf Ghani’s insistence on remaining in office for the remainder his five-year-term. Predictably, they haven’t even got around to discussing protection of minority and women’s rights, or the role of sharia law in the new order. Meanwhile, civilian casualties are mounting, and the Taliban has just launched a spring offensive. (Photo: Khaama Press)