Ayman al-Zawahiri assassination: The Taliban’s biggest crisis | Taliban

The drone assault that killed al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri has plunged the Taliban into an inner disaster. The group has been humiliated by a unilateral US navy motion and its relentless claims that it has denied house to “terrorists” have been uncovered as lies.

This imperils two core, and contradictory, Taliban objectives: Sustaining the legitimacy of the group’s rank and file, which incorporates hardened armed fighters and spiritual ideologues and securing badly wanted monetary help from a global group already reluctant to fund the Taliban due to considerations about its “terrorist” ties.

Initially, the Taliban are possible to answer the raid on al-Zawahiri with defiance, insisting they weren’t harbouring a terrorist and hardening their resistance to addressing longstanding worldwide calls for, from letting older women return to highschool to forming a extra inclusive authorities. They could additionally take a more durable line on delicate negotiations with Washington on the supply of humanitarian provides and the unfreezing of Afghan Central Financial institution belongings.

However over the long term, al-Zawahiri’s killing might exacerbate current fissures throughout the group. Such inner churn might present openings for the emergence of factions espousing extra conciliatory and sensible views but it surely might additionally result in dysfunction and hazard that have an effect on governance and lift questions in regards to the viability of the Taliban’s future political management.

For practically a yr, the Taliban have celebrated their expulsion of overseas navy forces and pledged to by no means allow them to return. That’s the reason the drone raid was such a humiliation for the Taliban management but in addition for the battlefield commanders and fighters that fought US forces for practically 20 years. Since their takeover, the Taliban have made clear simply how a lot they prioritise sustaining legitimacy from these constituencies: They’ve hosted ceremonies honouring the households of suicide bombers, and held navy parades that showcase US weaponry, even whereas alienating frequent Afghans by limiting women’ schooling and cracking down on journalists and activists. The group might want to appease an indignant rank and file; merely shrugging off the raid and shifting on is not going to reduce it.

The Taliban might additionally face new threats from Islamic State in Khorasan Province, ISKP (ISIS-Okay), if they don’t take a tough line in direction of the US. ISKP, a Taliban and al-Qaeda rival, has already benefitted from the al-Zawahiri killing as a result of one among its most senior nemeses has been eradicated. However it could possibly additionally acquire propaganda mileage by accusing the Taliban of failing to anticipate the raid, and even of being complicit in it. ISKP fighters are clearly galvanised; this week, they tried assaults on Shia observing the Muharram vacation.

The raid on al-Zawahiri additionally dangers alienating the Taliban’s different hardliner allies current in Afghanistan, from the Pakistani Taliban to Lashkar-e-Taiba, all of that are aligned with al-Qaeda. These teams are united of their hatred of US navy forces, particularly when deployed on the soil of Muslim nations. Sarcastically, new Taliban tensions with fighters might strengthen the group’s narrative that it’s distancing itself from “terrorists” – however additionally they increase the danger of those teams turning their weapons on the Taliban.

Moreover, within the fast time period, Washington is not going to be eager to interact with the Taliban. It’s livid that al-Zawahiri lived in central Kabul, and believes some Taliban leaders knew he was there. With the US taking a troublesome line on the Taliban, and in no temper to debate increasing help or unfreezing Afghan financial institution funds, the Taliban have little incentive to ponder a extra conciliatory place. US-Taliban relations, awkward and uneasy earlier than the al-Zawahiri raid, are poised to grow to be downright poisonous.

However relations throughout the Taliban might grow to be poisonous, too. The group’s inner divisions are well-known: There are variations between the fighter ranks and the civilian representatives lengthy primarily based within the Taliban political workplace in Doha; between ideologically-driven mullahs and extra virtually minded leaders who help extra worldwide engagement; and between the Haqqani community faction and Taliban authorities from Kandahar, the group’s birthplace.

A person near Sirajuddin Haqqani, the Taliban inside minister, reportedly owns the house that sheltered al-Zawahiri. That is unsurprising, given the particularly deep ties between the Haqqanis and al-Qaeda. Based on students Don Rassler and Vahid Brown, the Haqqani community has functioned inside al-Qaeda “as an interdependent system.”

Many Taliban leaders possible usually are not comfortable that al-Zawahiri took shelter in Kabul. Others are possible livid that his presence has subjected the group to deep humiliation and a possible inner legitimacy disaster. And others possible worry somebody throughout the group’s ranks shared al-Zawahiri’s location with the CIA. Al-Zawahiri himself as soon as reportedly confided to al-Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden that he didn’t belief Taliban leaders and they didn’t belief him.

The missile assault humiliated the Taliban. In addition they face the ire of the group’s rank and file. And they’re going to now face much more issue in securing worldwide help to deal with raging humanitarian and financial crises pushed in nice half by sanctions that forestall cash from flowing into the nation. This state of play implies that these factions that help extra pragmatic and conciliatory positions could have a possibility to make an influence play. And but, the ideologues and hardliners is not going to bend. They maintain a number of the management’s prime positions, they usually embrace ideologies that replicate the Taliban’s basic identification.

Previously, the Taliban’s supreme management efficiently suppressed inner revolts, typically with power. That will occur this time, too. However that was simpler to do when the group was an armed rebellion, with a lot much less stress, with out the heavy tasks of governing and addressing immense coverage challenges, with out a galvanised rival like ISKP, and with out an exterior occasion that might trigger such dramatic inner shocks. Institutional divisions had been beforehand informal distractions; as we speak, they might grow to be corrosive risks. If these inner tensions grow to be all consuming, governance and political management might face threats and supply openings for brand new armed opposition teams. This may imply the danger of renewed violence and civil battle. In probably the most excessive state of affairs, the missile that tore by al-Zawahiri might tear aside the Taliban.

For now, the Taliban look like shopping for themselves time as they think about easy methods to proceed: They refused to substantiate al-Zawahiri was killed and as an alternative promised an investigation. Within the fast time period, the Taliban are more likely to speak robust, condemn the raid, and double down on the identical insurance policies which have provoked worldwide sanctions and prevented the influx of much-needed abroad funding.

However ultimately, the Taliban might face an inflexion level as they grapple with humiliation, a traumatised rank and file, extra worldwide opprobrium, and intensifying inner divisions – all of which is able to additional tax their already-overwhelming governance tasks. Over their practically 30 years of existence, the Taliban have by no means skilled such a severe disaster.

The views expressed on this article are the creator’s personal and don’t essentially replicate Al Jazeera’s editorial stance. 

US envoy meets Taliban foreign minister, raises women’s rights | Taliban News

US particular envoy on Afghanistan stresses worldwide opposition to Taliban’s remedy of ladies and ladies.

The US particular envoy on Afghanistan has met the Taliban’s performing international minister within the Qatari capital Doha and pressured worldwide opposition to the group’s increasing curbs on girls and ladies.

“Ladies should be again at school, girls free to maneuver & work w/o restrictions for progress to normalised relations,” US Particular Consultant on Afghanistan Thomas West wrote on Twitter on Saturday after assembly Amir Khan Mutaqi.

Since returning to energy final August, the Taliban has imposed a slew of restrictions on civil society, many centered on reining within the rights of ladies and ladies, which are paying homage to their final rule within the Nineteen Nineties.

Ladies’ faculties are but to open, greater than eight months because the Taliban got here to energy. The group has insisted that it needs ladies to get again to high school, however justified the delay on causes starting from infrastructure to lack of sources because of the financial disaster.

When the Taliban took energy in August, the armed group promised to uphold the rights of women and girls. However its actions since have anxious the worldwide neighborhood.
Earlier this month, Afghanistan’s supreme chief ordered girls to cowl up absolutely in public, together with their faces, ideally with the normal burqa.

 

Throughout the previous few months, Taliban leaders, significantly from the Ministry of Propagation of Advantage and the Prevention of Vice, have introduced many new restrictions, at the same time as criticism and worldwide strain mounts towards them.

In December, the ministry, which changed the Afghan Ministry of Ladies Affairs, imposed restrictions on girls from travelling additional than 72km (45 miles) with no shut male family member.

This restriction was additional expanded to incorporate travelling overseas, and a number of other solo girls travellers have been reportedly stopped from boarding flights. Related bans have been additionally launched in a number of healthcare centres throughout the nation, forbidding girls to entry healthcare with no mahram (male chaperone).

In January, a gaggle of 36 UN human rights consultants mentioned that Taliban leaders in Afghanistan are institutionalising large-scale and systematic gender-based discrimination and violence towards girls and ladies.

A shock U-turn in March, wherein the group shuttered ladies’ excessive faculties on the morning they have been resulting from open, drew the ire of the worldwide neighborhood and prompted the US to cancel deliberate conferences on easing the nation’s monetary disaster.

A Ministry of Training discover mentioned on March 23 that faculties for women could be closed till a plan was drawn up in accordance with Islamic regulation and Afghan tradition, in response to Bakhtar Information Company, a authorities information company.

Financial stabilisation

West additionally mentioned that the 2 mentioned financial stabilisation in Afghanistan and issues about assaults on civilians.

The nation is teetering on the verge of financial catastrophe after the West froze Afghanistan’s belongings held overseas and reduce off help.

“Dialogue will proceed in assist of Afghan folks and our nationwide pursuits,” West, the US envoy, mentioned in his submit.

The nation has been reeling from a humanitarian disaster with greater than half of the inhabitants dealing with starvation. The Taliban has struggled to revive the aid-dependent financial system, which is in freefall resulting from sanctions and exclusion from worldwide monetary establishments.

In December, the Biden administration issued what it referred to as “broad authorisations” to make sure that the United Nations, American authorities companies and help teams can present humanitarian aid to Afghanistan with out operating foul of sanctions towards the Taliban.

Afghan students run underground book club to keep dreams alive | Taliban News

On Might 8 final yr, 17-year-old Tahira and her classmate have been discussing their plans for the Eid holidays when a strong bomb went off at their faculty in Kabul’s Dasht-e-Barchi neighbourhood. She was thrown to the opposite facet of the road by the depth of the explosion.

Two extra explosions adopted targeting Sayed ul-Shuhada High School for girls and leaving 90 individuals lifeless, most of them feminine college students. “One second I used to be speaking to my buddy. Subsequent, I used to be mendacity in a hospital, and all wired up,” Tahira recollects.

Three items of shrapnel had struck her legs. “Two of them have been eliminated and one grew to become a part of my physique,” Tahira, who doesn’t want to reveal her full title, informed Al Jazeera.

No group claimed duty for the sequence of blasts. The neighbourhood in Kabul’s western suburb – residence to the predominantly Shia Hazara group – had been the goal of brutal assaults lately, significantly by the ISIL (ISIS) group. In 2020, 24 people were killed, together with new child infants and their moms in an assault on a maternity ward. ISIL claimed duty for that assault.

Politicians and international missions in Afghanistan known as it an assault on “schooling”, however to lots of the college students, it was an assault on their very identities as younger girls and Hazaras.

A yr after the bombing

A yr after the bombing the households nonetheless are mourning the loss of life of their youngsters, and the scholars who survived are but to heal from the trauma.

underground book club Afghanistan
The chance of working a guide membership is large amid rising restrictions on girls, with women above the age of 12 not allowed to go to highschool and universities compelled to segregate courses [Courtesy Tareq Qassemi/Al Jazeera]

Tahira, who was within the eleventh grade, says the varsity lacked sources, however there was hope. “We had desires, and that had made the state of affairs bearable,” she says.

However within the months following the blasts, as United States troops began to withdraw after 20 years of occupation, the safety state of affairs worsened. The Taliban armed group retook energy in August 2021 after the pullout of the US troopers triggered a collapse of the Afghan authorities led by President Ashraf Ghani.

The violent and chaotic collapse of the West-backed earlier authorities introduced an abrupt finish to Tahira’s schooling.

Instantly after coming to energy, the Taliban promised girls’s rights and freedom of the press. However 9 months for the reason that takeover, excessive colleges for ladies stay closed and public spaces shrinking for Afghan girls because the group has expanded curbs.

On Saturday, the group’s Supreme chief Haibatullah Akhunzada ordered women appearing in public to be covered from head to toe, bringing again the reminiscence of the Taliban’s brutal rule between 1996 and 2001.

A series of blasts in recent weeks, significantly concentrating on Shia Hazaras, has elevated the vulnerability of ethnic minorities.

However Tahira and 29 different college students from Sayed ul-Shuhada Excessive Faculty stay unwilling to surrender on their schooling regardless of the unrelenting assaults and renewed Taliban restrictions.

They’ve labored a manner across the Taliban’s ban on women’ schooling, by attending an underground guide membership the place college students collect to study, learn, and even write their very own tales.

The guide membership

The guide membership, based by a bunch of eight civil activists – a few of them college students, however not all of them – organises studying periods each Saturday. They’re held in a discreet location in western Kabul to keep away from Taliban retribution.

Tareq Qassemi, a co-founder of the membership, says the worldwide media focus shifted in a single day as a result of conflict in Ukraine.

“Afghanistan is a lifeless story, however we, the individuals of Afghanistan, should take possession,” he sai​d. Qassemi believes women are the way forward for the nation and should be the narrators of their very own tales.

Dwelling to Inform the Story, the primary quantity of the autobiography of Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez, was one of many first books that the women learn.

underground book club Afghanistan
College students from Sayed ul-Shuhada Excessive Faculty stay unwilling to surrender on their schooling regardless of the unrelenting assaults and renewed Taliban restrictions [Courtesy Tareq Qassemi/Al Jazeera]

“This guide was chosen intentionally. Gabriel García Márquez dropped out of school,” says Khalidyar Payman, a member of the membership. Marquez pursued a self-directed schooling that resulted in his leaving legislation faculty for a profession in journalism. And he later received a Nobel Prize in literature, Payman, the 25-year-old graduate from Kabul College, says.

The founders of the guide membership clarify the significance of storytelling, even when pursued in secret.

“These women are the brightest of our era; they have to be polished,” Qassemi says. “We mild the trail for them, they usually discover their manner.”

Razia 16, who’s a part of the guide membership, finds it onerous to know the Taliban’s reasoning for stopping women’ schooling.

“To start with, I’m a human being, not only a lady,” she says. Razia believes that equal alternative needs to be offered to each women and men. “Then it’s all as much as the person on how they shine with the information they gained,” she stated.

Razia misplaced 12 of her classmates within the explosion on the Sayed ul-Shuhada Excessive Faculty final yr. She has been ready to return to highschool, she says, not simply to satisfy her desires, however to reside out her classmates’ desires too.

“And studying is a path to pursuing these desires,” she informed Al Jazeera.

The chance of working a guide membership is large amid rising restrictions on girls, with women above the age of 12 not allowed to go to highschool and universities compelled to segregate courses.

Feminine protesters demanding girls’s rights have been detained and questioned by the Taliban.

E book membership members acknowledge the dangers, however their braveness comes from the women’ thirst for schooling.

Tahira, 17, says she struggles to seek out the suitable phrases to explain her ache.

“I misplaced my finest buddy within the bombing and the Taliban doesn’t let me go to highschool. We’re each lifeless. She is buried, however not me,” she says whereas attempting to carry her tears again.

Taliban orders Afghan women to cover their faces in public | Taliban News

The transfer is among the harshest restrictions imposed on Afghanistan’s ladies for the reason that Taliban seized energy final yr.

Afghanistan’s supreme chief has ordered the nation’s ladies to cowl their faces in public – one of many harshest restrictions imposed on them for the reason that Taliban seized energy final yr and an escalation of rising restrictions on ladies that’s drawing a backlash from the worldwide neighborhood and plenty of Afghans.

“They need to put on a chadori (head-to-toe burqa) as it’s conventional and respectful,” mentioned a decree issued by Taliban chief Haibatullah Akhunzada that was launched by authorities at a perform in Kabul on Saturday.

A spokesman for the Ministry for the Propagation of Advantage and the Prevention of Vice learn the decree from Akhunzada at a media convention, saying {that a} girl’s father or closest male family member can be visited and ultimately imprisoned or fired from authorities jobs if she didn’t cowl her face exterior the house.

The spokesman added that the best face overlaying is the burqa, which grew to become a worldwide image of the Taliban’s earlier hardline rule from 1996 till 2001. Most ladies in Afghanistan put on a scarf, however many in city areas, akin to Kabul, don’t cowl their faces.

Since taking over Afghanistan, the Taliban have reintroduced draconian restrictions on freedoms and actions, notably directed at ladies, which might be paying homage to their final rule within the Nineties.

Over the previous few months, Taliban leaders, notably from the Ministry of Propagation of Advantage and the Prevention of Vice, have introduced many new restrictions, at the same time as criticism and worldwide strain mounts towards them.

In December, the ministry, which changed the Afghan Ministry of Girls Affairs, imposed restrictions on women from travelling additional than 72km (45 miles) with no shut male family member.

This restriction was additional expanded to incorporate travelling overseas, and several other solo ladies travellers had been reportedly stopped from boarding flights. Comparable bans had been additionally introduced in a number of healthcare centres throughout the nation, forbidding ladies to entry healthcare with no mahram (male chaperone).

In January, a bunch of 36 UN human rights consultants mentioned that Taliban leaders in Afghanistan are institutionalising large-scale and systematic gender-based discrimination and violence towards ladies and ladies.

“We’re involved in regards to the steady and systematic efforts to exclude ladies from the social, financial, and political spheres throughout the nation,” the consultants mentioned in a press release.

A shock U-turn in March wherein the group shuttered ladies’ excessive colleges on the morning they had been attributable to open drew the ire of the worldwide neighborhood and prompted the USA to cancel deliberate conferences on easing the nation’s monetary disaster.

The nation has been reeling from a humanitarian disaster with greater than half of the population facing hunger. The Taliban has struggled to revive the aid-dependent financial system, which is in freefall attributable to sanctions and exclusion from worldwide monetary establishments.

The US and different nations have minimize improvement assist and enforced strict sanctions on the banking system for the reason that Taliban took over in August, pushing the nation in the direction of financial destroy.

Taliban supreme leader makes rare appearance to mark Eid al-Fitr | Taliban News

Haibatullah Akhunzada appeared for under the second time since taking management of the Taliban in 2016 and hailed the ‘safety’ state of affairs in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan’s supreme chief Haibatullah Akhunzada appeared for under the second time since taking control of the Taliban in 2016 to inform worshippers celebrating Eid al-Fitr that the Taliban had achieved freedom and safety since seizing energy final 12 months.

Flanked by safety, Akhunzada spoke days after a strong explosion ripped by a mosque in Kabul, killing greater than 50 worshippers after Friday prayers – the newest of a sequence of assaults on civilian targets in Afghanistan throughout Ramadan.

“Congratulations on victory, freedom and success,” Akhunzada informed hundreds of worshippers on Saturday on the Eidgah mosque within the southern metropolis of Kandahar, the group’s de facto energy centre. “Congratulations on this safety and for the Islamic system.”

Whereas the variety of bombings throughout the nation has dropped since Kabul fell to the Taliban final August, assaults soared over the ultimate two weeks of Ramadan, which ended on Saturday for Afghans.

Dozens of civilians have been killed within the primarily sectarian assaults – some claimed by the ISIL (ISIS) armed group – focusing on members of the Shia and Sufi Muslim communities.

Taliban chief Mullah Haibatullah Akhunzada is seen in an undated {photograph} [File: Reuters]

Akhunzada delivered his transient handle from one of many entrance rows of worshippers in Kandahar with out turning to face the group, in line with social media posts. Taliban officers didn’t permit journalists to strategy him. Two helicopters hovered over the mosque for the two-hour occasion.

In October, he had visited the Darul Uloom Hakimiah mosque in Kandahar, in line with an audio recording circulated by Taliban social media accounts.

On Sunday, many Afghans stayed indoors after the latest lethal assaults.

“The state of affairs of our folks could be very unhappy, particularly after what occurred within the mosques,” Kabul resident Ahmad Shah Hashemi stated. “Many younger and outdated folks have been martyred. The folks of Afghanistan don’t have anything however sorrow.”

Reclusive determine

Akhunzada’s low profile has fed hypothesis about his function within the new Taliban authorities – shaped after the armed group took management of Kabul on August 15 – and even rumours of his demise.

Akhunzada, believed to be in his 70s, has been the non secular chief of the Taliban since 2016. He succeeded Mullah Akhtar Mansoor who was killed in a US drone strike inside Pakistan.

His public profile has largely been restricted to the discharge of messages throughout Islamic holidays, and Akhunzada is believed to spend most of his time in Kandahar.

On Friday, in a message launched before Eid al-Fitr, he made no point out of the bloodshed that has rocked Afghanistan over Ramadan, as an alternative praising the Taliban’s constructing of “a powerful Islamic and nationwide military” and “robust intelligence organisation”.

He additionally referred to as on the worldwide group to recognise the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. The Taliban-led authorities is but to be recognised by any nation because it returned to energy final August, 20 years after it was toppled in a US-led invasion.