Forgiveness to the enemy, openness to women’s work, the end of the war and the return of security: the Taliban tried to calm down on Tuesday at their first press conference since they came to power in Afghanistan on Sunday. The pledges point to an easing of the group known for its extremely rigorous application of Islam. But these words were received with great skepticism.
Posted on Aug 18, 2021 at 6:00 am
Janie Gosselin The press
“Everyone in the camp across the street is awarded from A to Z,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a conference broadcast by the BBC. We will not seek revenge. ”
The man spoke to a group of journalists in Kabul. Behind him a huge white flag with the Muslim creed, standard of the Islamic emirate Afghanistan – this is what the Islamist group called the country before the US-led military operation in 2001 ended that year.
A member of the Taliban Culture Commission, Enamullah Samangani, assured earlier that “the Islamic emirate of Afghanistan is ready to offer women a work and study environment and the presence of women in various structures”. [gouvernementales], according to Islamic law and [ses] cultural values ”.
News from the Taliban to the media does not convince Afghan human rights lawyer Fereshta Abbasi, who has lived in Great Britain since last year. She is following the news from her country with concern.
“I don’t think they have changed,” said the young woman who was contacted by La Presse on the phone. Because before they took over the big cities and Kabul, they still had a few districts in the south. ”
We know that for the past 15 or 20 years they have not allowed women to go to school or to work in the regions they control.
Fereshta Abbasi, Afghan human rights lawyer
The Taliban have built their reputation on their ability to create order – with great violence and at the expense of individual freedoms. When they took power in 1996, they banned girls from school, forced women to cover themselves with burqas, and banned television and music. No resistance was tolerated.
You never completely disappeared from the Afghan scene.
In November 2019, Vanda Felbab-Brown was in Afghanistan, a country she has visited several times over the years. The Taliban had already gained ground, she said.
“It was much more difficult to travel across the country,” says the senior researcher at the Brookings Institution in Washington, who specializes in the region, because of measures taken by the Taliban to impose taxes on certain roads. “The people in the villages were afraid of the Taliban, the women were all covered with a burqa,” she said.
No obvious break
When they presented themselves as a more tolerant movement on Tuesday, the Taliban made no concealment that they had maintained their vision of Islam.
When the question is based on ideology and beliefs there is no difference … but when it is based on experience, maturity and insight there are no doubt many differences.
Zabihullah Mujahid, Taliban spokesman
Even the Taliban of 2021 did not break with their predecessors; Mullah Adbul Ghani Baradar, co-founder and number two of the group, returned to Afghanistan on Tuesday. Until then, he had headed the movement’s Politburo from Qatar. It was he who led the negotiations with the Americans about the withdrawal of foreign troops.
Tactics, on the other hand, may well have evolved, says Jennifer Brick Murtazashvili, associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh, who has been to Afghanistan several times since 2005. [ils avaient pris le pouvoir] with great strength, she said. We saw women being flogged, they couldn’t legitimately take power. ”
Their arrival in Kabul was bloodless this time. On the other hand, organizations have condemned targeted attacks in the past few weeks. The UN special envoy for Afghanistan estimated the number of people killed in the offensive last month at more than 1,000 civilians on August 6.
The International Criminal Court Prosecutor also commented on Tuesday, expressing particular concern about the situation in Afghanistan, citing crimes and executions as retaliatory measures that could constitute violations of international humanitarian law.
The violence denounced occurs in the context of the war, “but we do not yet know what your government strategy will be,” said Ms. Brick Murtazashvili. “I think over the past four years in diplomacy they have learned and understood what was expected of them,” she adds.
The actual test will take place in a few weeks or months, believes Aurel Braun, professor of international relations and political science at the University of Toronto. “When we see how they treat women, girls, minorities,” he said.
Despite her reassuring statements, he meanwhile doubts the Taliban’s transformation. “Not because we don’t believe them in the West. But because the Afghans obviously don’t believe them, ”he says.
With Agence France-Presse, Associated Press and BBC