Women have taken up arms in hotly contested areas of Afghanistan as the Taliban continue to make nationwide progress as the US military withdraws.
The United States continued to withdraw its troops, meeting the deadline promised by President Biden of a full withdrawal by September 11 – a date he said Thursday would now be August 31. However, Afghanistan has already struggled to fend for itself.
Government forces have already withdrawn from seven districts, concentrating their troops and resources around the capital province of Badakhshan.
In response, hundreds of women took to the streets with guns and to protest the Taliban, The Guardian reported.
“There were women who just wanted to inspire the security forces, just token, but many more were ready to go to the battlefields,” said Halima Parastish, chief executive of women in Ghor. “This includes myself. “
“Me and a few other women told the governor about a month ago that we were ready to go and fight,” Parastish said.
The Taliban have already introduced severe restrictions on women’s rights in areas they control, including education, freedom of movement and dress, activists and residents say.
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Women have joined the country’s security forces over the past two decades, including training as helicopter pilots, although they face discrimination similar to that which exists in other countries, preventing women to serve on the front line.
Abdulzahir Faizzada, the governor of Ghor province, told the Guardian that some of the women protesting the Taliban had already engaged them in a battle and suffered violence from them.
“The majority of these women were those who had recently escaped from Taliban areas,” Faizzada said. “They have already been through the war in their villages, they have lost their sons and brothers, they are angry.”
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Faizzada supports efforts to train inexperienced women with guns, but only if the government in Kabul approves it.
Former President George W. Bush warned in April that the decision to withdraw troops from the country would provide the Taliban with opportunities he hoped the United States would not regret.
“My first reaction was, wow, these girls are going to have real problems with the Taliban,” Bush said. “Much progress has been made, and therefore I am deeply concerned for the plight of women and girls in this country.”
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He added: “I think the administration is hoping the girls will get away with diplomacy. We will find out. All I know is the Taliban, when they had control of the place, they were brutal. “
Former President Donald Trump launched a plan to withdraw US troops from the country, with the intention of completing the withdrawal of all regular troops by May 2021. President Biden changed this timeline when he took its functions.
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The move has drawn bipartisan criticism, with supporters saying the pullout will only increase problems in the country. Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai said extremism was at its “peak” before the planned withdrawal of US forces from his country and that the US had broken its promises.
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