Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Afghanistan: Women Bearing Arms March in Defiance of the Taliban.

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A demonstration in Ghor

The Stop the War Coalition, a long-standing opponent of Western Intervention, claimed that this withdrawal was ‘hushed up’. In a statement on the 2nd of July they went through the damage wrought. They expressed no solidarity with those who now risk being brought under the boot of the Taliban.


This weekend marks the humiliating end of one of the most disastrous wars the western powers have ever fought. For twenty years US and British troops, later joined by NATO allies, have occupied Afghanistan claiming to be forces of liberation against the Taliban.

This weekend the western forces are pulling out.

For Afghans, the US/UK invasion was one more foreign intervention in decades of occupation. As we in the anti-war movement predicted when Bush and Blair took the decision to invade, the result was a disaster for ordinary Afghans. Though no accurate records have been kept, hundreds of thousands have died as a result of the fighting.

instead of covering up or making excuses for this defeat, our politicians should be apologising first to the Afghans, and then to their own people for a catastrophic folly that has made the world a much more unstable and dangerous place. We in the anti-war movement must ensure that nothing like this can happen again.

Instead of covering up or making excuses for this defeat, our politicians should be apologising first to the Afghans, and then to their own people for a catastrophic folly that has made the world a much more unstable and dangerous place. We in the anti-war movement must ensure that nothing like this can happen again.

Socialist Worker is worried that the US may launch future attacks on the Taliban

Many now agree with Dannatt and predict a new civil war between various warlords and the Taliban.

It’s a horrifying prospect for people who have known nothing but brutal conflict since the Russian occupation that began in 1979.

But for Biden, the last moves have not yet been played.

The CIA is now in negotiations with the Pakistani government to reopen a US airbase once used for drone attacks on Afghanistan.

This is despite Pakistan kicking out the Americans in 2011, and the country’s ISI secret service being the main backers of the Taliban.

US diplomats are also exploring the option of regaining access to bases in former Soviet republics that once were used for Russia’s Afghanistan war.

Yet this time around, there will be no boots on the ground.

In order to “liberate” Afghanistan, Biden will now rely solely on missiles launched on the territory from military bases thousands of miles away.

People in the country are also worried at the fight between war-lords, but that the Taliban will take over.

“The Taliban are now notorious for their human rights abuses. The group emerged in 1994 after years of conflict. Many of their members were former Mujahideen fighter who had been trained in Pakistan during Afghanistan’s civil war in the ’80s and ’90s. They came together with the aim of making Afghanistan an Islamic state. The Taliban ruled in Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001.”

Amnesty International

Under the Taliban, women and girls were discriminated against in many ways, for the ‘crime’ of being born a girl. The Taliban enforced their version of Islamic Sharia law. Women and girls were:

  • Banned from going to school or studying
  • Banned from working
  • Banned from leaving the house without a male chaperone
  • Banned from showing their skin in public
  • Banned from accessing healthcare delivered by men (with women forbidden from working, healthcare was virtually inaccessible)
  • Banned from being involved in politics or speaking publicly.

“During the five-year history of the Islamic Emirate, the Taliban regime interpreted the Sharia in accordance with the Hanafi school of Islamic jurisprudence and the religious edicts of Mullah Omar.[1] The Taliban forbade pork and alcohol, many types of consumer technology such as music,[1] television,[1] and film,[1] as well as most forms of art such as paintings or photography,[1] male and female participation in sport,[1] including football and chess;[1] recreational activities such as kite-flying and keeping pigeons or other pets were also forbidden, and the birds were killed according to the Taliban’s ruling.[1] Movie theaters were closed and repurposed as mosques.[1] Celebration of the Western and Iranian New Year was forbidden.[1] Taking photographs and displaying pictures or portraits was forbidden, as it was considered by the Taliban as a form of idolatry.[1] Women were banned from working,[1] girls were forbidden to attend schools or universities,[1] were requested to observe purdah and to be accompanied outside their households by male relatives; those who violated these restrictions were punished.[1] Men were forbidden to shave their beards and required to let them grow and keep them long according to the Taliban’s liking, and to wear turbans outside their households.[1][24] Communists were systematically executed. Prayer was made compulsory and those who did not respect the religious obligation after the azaan were arrested.[1] Gambling was banned,[1] and thieves were punished by amputating their hands or feet.[1] In 2000, the Taliban leader Mullah Omar officially banned opium cultivation and drug trafficking in Afghanistan;[1][25][26] the Taliban succeeded in nearly eradicating the majority of the opium production (99%) by 2001.[25][26][27] Under the Taliban governance of Afghanistan, both drug users and dealers were severely prosecuted.[1]

The US, which helped fund the Taliban’s Islamist predecessor, the Mujahideen, as a force to defeat the pro-Soviet Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA), and troops from the USSR, is guilty of having wreaked havoc in Afghanistan. The Saudis have their own responsibilities, “The Taliban, or “students” in the Pashto language, emerged in the early 1990s in northern Pakistan following the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan. It is believed that the predominantly Pashtun movement first appeared in religious seminaries – mostly paid for by money from Saudi Arabia – which preached a hardline form of Sunni Islam.” “Afghans, weary of the mujahideen’s excesses and infighting after the Soviets were driven out, generally welcomed the Taliban when they first appeared on the scene. Their early popularity was largely due to their success in stamping out corruption, curbing lawlessness and making the roads and the areas under their control safe for commerce to flourish.”

The attention of the world was drawn to the Taliban in Afghanistan in the wake of the 11 September 2001 World Trade Center attacks in New York. The Taliban were accused of providing a sanctuary for the prime suspects – Osama Bin Laden and his al-Qaeda movement.

On October 7, 2001, a US-led military coalition launched attacks in Afghanistan, and by the first week of December the Taliban regime had collapsed. The group’s then-leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, and other senior figures, including Bin Laden, evaded capture despite one of the largest manhunts in the world.

This history (Who are the Taliban? concludes,

Having outlasted a superpower through two decades of war, the Taliban began seizing vast swathes of territory, threatening to once again topple a government in Kabul in the wake of a foreign power withdrawing.

The group is thought to now be stronger in numbers than at any point since they were ousted in 2001 – with up to 85,000 full time fighters, according to recent Nato estimates. Their control of territory is harder to estimate, as districts swing back and forth between them and government forces, but recent estimates put it somewhere between a third and a fifth of the country.

The advance is more rapid than many had feared. General Austin Miller, the commander of the US-led mission in Afghanistan, warned in June that the country could be on a path towards a chaotic civil war, which he called a “concern for the world”.

A US intelligence assessment the same month reportedly concluded that the Afghan government could fall within six months of the American military departure.

Neither Counterfire (who lead the StWC) nor the SWP have learnt anything from their failure to offer an independent stand on the war in Afghanistan. They have concentrated all their fire on attacking the Western coalition, and have few words left over to criticise the armed Islamistes and their totalitarian history and project. These ‘anti-imperialists’ have no strategy on how the reactionaries, the Taliban and other jihadists, may be fought or any idea of what forces the left might give concrete help to.

Armed Afghan women take to streets in show of defiance against Taliban

Women in north and central regions of country stage demonstrations as militants make sweeping gains nationwide by Emma Graham-Harrison in Kabul

Women have taken up guns in northern and central Afghanistan, marching in the streets in their hundreds and sharing pictures of themselves with assault rifles on social media, in a show of defiance as the Taliban make sweeping gains nationwide.

One of the biggest demonstrations was in central Ghor province, where hundreds of women turned out at the weekend, waving guns and chanting anti-Taliban slogans.

They are not likely to head to the frontlines in large numbers any time soon, because of both social conservatism and lack of experience. But the public demonstrations, at a time of urgent threat from the militants, are a reminder of how frightened many women are about what Taliban rule could mean for them and their families.

The article is thorough.

It concludes,

The Ghor provincial governor, Abdulzahir Faizzada, said in a phone interview that some of the women who came out in the streets of Firozkoh, the provincial capital, had already battled the Taliban, and most had endured violence from the group.

“The majority of these women were those who had recently escaped from Taliban areas. They have already been through war in their villages, they lost their sons and brothers, they are angry,” he said. Faizzada added that he would train women who did not have experience with weapons, if the government in Kabul approved it.

The Taliban’s conservative rules are particularly unwelcome in Ghor, where women traditionally wear headscarves rather than covering themselves fully with the burqa, and work in fields and villages beside their men, Parastish said.

The Taliban have banned women even from taking care of animals or working the land in areas of Ghor they control, she added. They have closed girls schools, ordered women not to leave home without a male guardian and even banned them from gathering for weddings, saying only men should attend.

Women from these areas were among those who marched. “More than a dozen women have escaped from Allahyar in Shahrak district last week and came to us and asked for guns to go and fight for their lands and freedom. The same situation is in Charsadda region,” Parastish said.

“Women said: ‘We are getting killed and injured without defending ourselves, why not fight back?’ They were telling us that at least two women were in labour in their region, with no medical things around and they couldn’t come with them.”

For now, she said, the main thing holding the women back was the men in power. “The governor said there is no need for us now and they will let us know.”


Instead of gloating at the US and allied failure we should explore ways of giving solidarity to this resistance.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 8, 2021 at 2:52 pm

7 Responses

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  1. Some of the Left regard the Taliban as a legitimate National Liberation movement. I know Socialist Worker frequently refers to them as “The Resistance” thus giving them an air of progressive legitimacy.
    When the Taliban ban women’s education expect these Left types to suddenly go quiet and blame “Western Imperialism” for everything. It’s a well worn playbook by now.


    July 8, 2021 at 5:39 pm

    • You are both right. The West has left people at the mercy of the wolves. And there are some on the left who regard the Taliban as the Resistance, chief anti-imperailists of fools often call them ‘THE Resistance’ – a red brown smear if ever there was one.

      Andrew Coates

      July 8, 2021 at 6:17 pm

  2. The West has betrayed Afghan democrats and women. This is an utterly shameful moment.

    Jim Denham

    July 8, 2021 at 5:49 pm

  3. What, realistically, are the alternatives for Afghanistan? Twenty years of Western occupation has not brought stability, economic prosperity, or an effective Afghan state able to maintain order within its borders. Nor has it caused the Taliban to disappear. Is there any reason to believe that continuing the Western occupation would lead to a better outcome? If you think there is, then please explain how, why, and how long you would anticipate the occupying forces would need to remain in place.


    July 8, 2021 at 7:45 pm

    • A permanent garrison: that was what the West promised – now we have betrayed Afghan democrats and women.

      Jim Denham

      July 8, 2021 at 9:41 pm

  4. I wonder if China will be the next to try it’s hand. That Taliban gives succour to the Muslim insurgents within China, a d China has Investments in Afghanistan. Pakistan too has cause to be worried. I ran Khan may be an Islamicist, but would he really care for the callous nature of their politics?

    Sue r

    July 8, 2021 at 10:31 pm

  5. Reblogged this on A Riverside View.

    Kevin Algar

    July 9, 2021 at 6:20 pm

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