Half of Afghanistan’s youth population is being robbed of its education and freedom of movement. But the West has written off Afghanistan.
The situation in Afghanistan under the Taliban is illuminated from time to time as if by lightning strikes when something fits into an easily understandable headline. That women are being banned from universities is one such headline. But to reformulate it in terms that fit Afghan reality, starting now, there is no education even for those girls who were lucky enough to finish secondary school. Those who recently finished middle school would not even have gotten that far. The Taliban had already ended education for girls after the seventh grade.
Half of Afghanistan’s youth population is being robbed of its education and freedom of movement. One can hardly image what that will mean for a society in the 21st century should the situation persist long term.
No Moderation in Sight
Nothing remains of the hope that the “new” generation of Taliban would prove more pragmatic than the one that was toppled by the U.S. in the winter of 2001. When the Islamic Pashtun nationalists retook power in Kabul in August 2021—and the U.S. bestowed upon them a withdrawal that recalled the end of the Vietnam War—the international community had imagined the same Taliban representatives with whom the U.S. had, after all, negotiated a division of power in Qatar. They were pushed aside by the ideologues who had been trained by the old guard. All promises of moderation vanished into thin air. Now, images of lashings appear that resemble those from the 1990s. Public executions have recently resumed.
It is notable that the Taliban waited almost half a year. They apparently counted on receiving formal recognition from at least some nations in the region. But not even Pakistan, whose role as a Taliban sponsor is often criticized, has recognized them. And Russia and China, who never miss an opportunity to antagonize the U.S., maintain only informal relations.
Still, the Taliban survived the first year without the collapse of the country—and now the last barriers have fallen. The West has written off Afghanistan. All attention is now focused on the fight of brave Iranian men and women, which also helps the West forget its own failures in Afghanistan
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