August 23, 2021
WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST
Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.
THE TALIBAN IS THE HEADLINES
The chaos in Afghanistan remains the headline story in the Middle East. Israelis are closely following the insurgence of the Taliban. The pull out was first initiated by President Trump and Secretary Pompeo setting in motion the withdrawal with the Taliban. President Joe Biden has stood firm on withdrawing US troops and believes the public is with him. Twenty years of investment that cost $2 trillion and nearly 2,500 US lives were disintegrating within days as the Islamist insurgents captured the capital of Kabul.
Israelis remain concerned about what is ahead in Afghanistan. They know the Taliban record. The most recent reports indicate the Taliban are going house-to-house searching for opponents and their families, according to an intelligence document for the United Nations that deepened fears on Friday that Afghanistan’s new rulers were reneging on pledges of tolerance.
After routing government forces and taking over Kabul on Sunday, the hardline Islamist movement’s leaders have repeatedly vowed to provide complete amnesty, as part of a well-crafted PR blitz. Women have also been assured that their rights will be respected, and that the Taliban will be “positively different” from their brutal 1996-2001 rule. However, with thousands of people still trying to flee the capital aboard evacuation flights, the report by the UN confirmed the fears of many. The Taliban has been conducting “targeted door-to-door visits” of people who worked with United States and NATO forces, according to a confidential document by the UN’s threat assessment consultants and seen by Associate Press.
The report, written by the Norwegian Center for Global Analyses, said that militants were also screening people on the way to the Kabul airport. Taliban fighters stood guard along streest sin Kabul as thousands of people mobbed the city’s airport trying to flee the feared hardline brand of Islamist rule.
“They are targeting the families of those who refuse to give themselves up, and prosecuting and punishing their families ‘according to Sharia law,’” Christian Nellemann, the group’s executive director, told AFP. “We expect both individuals previously working with NATO/US forces and their allies, alongside their family members to be exposed to torture and executions.”
The Taliban have denied such accusations in the past and have several times issued statements saying that fighters were barred from entering private homes. They also insist women and journalists have nothing to fear under their new rule, although several media workers have reported being thrashed with sticks or whips when trying to record some of the chaos seen in Kabul. During their first stint in power, women were excluded from public life, and girls were banned from school. People were stoned to death for adultery, while music and television were also banned.
A video posted online this week by a high-profile woman journalist for a government-run television station offered a different reality to the Taliban’s new image of tolerance.
“Our lives are under threat,” Shabnam Dawran, an anchor at the state-owned broadcaster RTA, declared as she recounted being barred from the office. “The male employees, those with office cards, were allowed to enter the office, but I was told that I couldn’t continue my duty because the system has been changed,” she said.
The world continues to watch and it is not a pretty picture.
My latest books:
I Marched with Patton: A Firsthand Account of World War II
Alongside One of the U.S. Army’s Greatest Generals!
by Frank Sisson (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)
You can find I MARCHED WITH PATTON on Amazon.
82 Days on Okinawa: One American’s Unforgettable Firsthand Account of the Pacific War’s Greatest Battle!
You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA on Amazon.
by Art Shaw (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)