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With the Americans gone, the time has come to rule for the Taliban

With the Americans gone, the time has come to rule for the Taliban

Americans and other Westerners left the country as planned. After celebrating the departure of the United States from Afghanistan, notably by parading on Wednesday in military vehicles in Kandahar, the Taliban must tackle a gigantic task: to govern one of the poorest countries in the world, which does not do not yet know what to expect from them.

The Taliban had said to wait, to announce the composition of their government, the departure of the last foreign soldiers of Afghanistan. It is now done since the final withdrawal Monday, one minute before midnight, of the American army.

This departure, which US President Joe Biden again bitterly defended on Tuesday, ended 20 years of a war sparked by the intervention of an international coalition led by the United States to oust the Taliban from power, in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.

“No operation is ever perfect,” but “we want to learn as much as possible from this experience,” US Defense Minister Lloyd Austin said Wednesday evening, speaking publicly for the first time since the end of the war. the chaotic evacuation of 124,000 civilians – Afghans and foreigners – from Kabul.

Mr. Austin, a former general who fought in Afghanistan, paid a solemn and somber tribute to the 800,000 American soldiers who have succeeded one another since 2001 on Afghan soil, during a war that claimed the lives of 2,461 of them. , including 13 in the last hours of the withdrawal.

The Taliban have repeatedly expressed their determination to form an “inclusive government”. For the international community, their ability to keep this commitment will be a first signal to assess the confidence that can be placed in them.

Since taking power on August 15, after a military campaign whose rapid success surprised the West, the Taliban have tried to display an image of openness and moderation.

But their promises leave skeptical many Afghans and foreign leaders who remember their fundamentalist regime between 1996 and 2001.

Many Afghans and Westerners fear a step backwards on the human rights acquired over the past two decades, especially concerning women who have gained access to education, entered politics or the media.

Reporters Without Borders said on Wednesday that less than a hundred of the 700 Afghan women journalists stationed in 2020 were still practicing their profession today.

Most countries have warned that they will judge by deeds and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has warned that “legitimacy and support” must “be earned.”

Military parade

“We want to have good relations with the United States and the world,” the main Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, replied on Tuesday.

The new Taliban power has thus authorized the Afghan cricket team to play a match in Australia from November 27 to December 1, the executive director of the Afghan cricket committee, Hamid Shinwari, told AFP on Wednesday.

Under their previous rule, the Taliban had banned most recreation and entertainment, including sports, and stadiums were used as places of public performance.

The international community is also demanding that the Taliban, who refused to hand over Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after 9/11, not allow Afghanistan to once again become a haven for terrorism.

Al-Qaeda congratulated the Taliban on Tuesday for their victory. “The Afghan debacle of America and NATO marks the beginning of the end for the dark era of Western hegemony and military occupation of Islamic lands,” the organization stressed.

The Taliban held a council of their leaders from Saturday to Monday in Kandahar, their spiritual cradle, under the leadership of their supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada, who has never made a public appearance since his appointment in May 2016, according to a press release published Tuesday.

These discussions focused in particular on the formation of the government, the security situation and the restarting of public services.

On Wednesday, they paraded dozens of military vehicles captured on the battlefield from US, NATO and former government troops.

The Islamists, who have promised not to take revenge on those who worked for the previous government, must put back on track an economy devastated by war and which depends mainly on international aid, largely frozen in recent days.

Their most urgent challenge will be to find the funds to pay the salaries of civil servants and to keep vital infrastructure (water, electricity, communications) functioning.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned Tuesday against “a humanitarian catastrophe” in Afghanistan and “the threat of a total collapse of basic services”.

The Taliban must also prove that they have the expertise to run the country, which tens of thousands of Afghans, often among the most educated and skilled, have fled since coming to power.

A Qatari plane in Kabul

They will also be expected on their management of Kabul airport. A Qatari plane carrying a technical team landed on Wednesday at this crucial airport for transporting the medical and humanitarian support the country needs.

A source familiar with the matter told AFP that Qatar had sent this team to discuss “the resumption of airport operations”, the Taliban having requested “technical assistance”.

Qatar also asked them on Wednesday to open a “safe passage” to people wanting to leave the country, reminding them of their commitment to allow Afghans to move freely abroad.

They must also find common ground with the few countries, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, which still have nationals in Afghanistan and are considering removing those who wish to do so.

In a speech from the White House, President Biden overnight defended his choice to leave Afghanistan and end America’s longest war.

“I have no doubts that this is the right decision, a wise decision, and the best decision for America,” he said.

“We are not done with you,” he also told the jihadist group Islamic State in Khorasan, which claimed responsibility for the attack which killed more than 100 people, including 13 American soldiers, on Thursday. Kabul airport.

Mr. Biden is criticized in his country, many of his fellow citizens wondering what the engagement in Afghanistan will ultimately have been used for. The United States deplores some 2,500 dead and a bill of 2.313 billion dollars in 20 years of conflict, according to a study by Brown University.

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