02-01-2023: Despite widespread international condemnation, the Taliban led Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) has defended its move to ban women from University studies until further notice. Taliban Education minister Nida Mohammad Nadim reportedly stated that women were suspended from higher education due to rules about the wearing of hijabs, the mixing of genders and that some subjects were being taught which violated the principles of Islam. Earlier in 2022, girls had been barred from attending high schools over uniform and transport issues. At the time of the creation of the IEA in August 2021 following the withdrawal of the US military forces, long term Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid gave the world an assurance that the Taliban would honor the rights of women within the norms of Islamic law. At that time, they had encouraged women to return to work and to education. Something has changed since then, but to be fair the Taliban also insist that women and girls will return to the high schools and universities once the issues in contention are resolved.
Western subversion again
The chorus of condemnation from Western governments, the United Nations (UN) and the Western corporate media following this move should be seen as yet another orchestrated campaign to undermine and eventually overthrow the IEA in the interests of imperialism. This needs to be acknowledged at the same time as recognising that the suspension of women and girls from education is of course extremely unfortunate. The key to understanding this move by the IEA is the decision which followed the suspension of women from higher education, and that is the December 24 edict banning women from working for Non-Government Organisations (NGOs), both domestic and foreign. NGOs – particularly those funded by the wealthy countries in the West – are one of the prime mechanisms for political subversion of independent nations the world over on behalf of imperialism, even at the same time as some provide welcome but partial poverty alleviation measures.
Indeed, many of the NGOs and CSOs (Civil Society Organisations) working in Afghanistan are funded by none other than the World Bank. Some so-called NGOs – which in reality are conduits of Western imperialism itself – such as Save the Children, the Norwegian Refugee Council and CARE International, have suspended their work in Afghanistan due to the ban on women working for them. So after using such NGOs to destabilise the IEA, these NGOs which are most close to Western governments, shut down their operations in Afghanistan – to further undermine the government! The Taliban appears to be aware of the real political agenda of such NGOs, with Mujahid stating that these organisations must abide by the rules and regulations of Afghanistan. He went on to state that “We do not permit anyone to state irresponsible worlds or make threats about the decisions or officials of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan under the title of humanitarian aid”.
Geopolitical moves, not “human rights”
While it is true that some allies and other Islamic led governments such as Türkiye, Qatar and Iran have condemned the suspension of education for women in Afghanistan, the source of this problem are the sophisticated geopolitical designs of Washington, London and Berlin against Beijing, Moscow and Tehran. The Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamanei implored the IEA to allow women of all ages access to education, saying that preventing them from being educated is “against Islam”. The Iranian government has offered some assistance to the Taliban in recent times, in what is a necessary move to protect themselves against covert Western war manoeuvres in the region. Yet it felt the need to diplomatically but publicly distance itself from the moves to suspend women from education in Afghanistan. The Qatari government has mediated meetings between the West and the Taliban since the establishment of the IEA on August 15, 2021, yet it too publicly stated its opposition to the suspension of women’s education in Afghanistan.
It is incredulous that we are being expected to believe – once again – that the prime concern of the West is “human rights”, much less human rights for women, in Afghanistan. In reality, if anyone is responsible for women currently being suspended from education in Afghanistan it is the Western powers themselves – primarily in Washington. In the 70s and 80s, when the leftist and pro-Soviet People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) governed, Universities in Afghanistan were full of women alongside men who studied engineering, agriculture, business and art – without any dress restrictions. In response, and in an attempt to set up a pro-Western proxy regime on the borders of the then Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), Washington used the CIA and NATO powers to fund, arm and train ultra-reactionary Islamic fundamentalists – from which the original Taliban and Al Qaeda emerged.
For over four decades from 1979, the US state department and their Western allies fostered a fratricidal war in Afghanistan which continued even after the collapse of the USSR in 1991. They actively backed barbarians whose anti-women actions were only one aspect of a suite of anti-modern and anti-secular positions. Ironically, even despite today’s Taliban appearing to at least temporarily proscribe education for women, they did fight and largely defeat the Western backed ISIS cutthroats whose anti-women stances are much worse. In November 2021, the Taliban announced that they had arrested 600 members and sympathisers of ISIS and put their numbers in the country at only around 1800.
The ISIS fighters had received training from the US backed former Afghan puppet government, and after the US withdrawal, many of them had little option but to join ISIS-K – which in turn operates via direct support from Washington. ISIS-K was then used to carry out terrorist attacks against the newly established IEA, making a mockery of the US government abiding by its agreement with the Taliban to fully withdraw from the country. This phase of imperialist subversion in Afghanistan appears to have subsided for now – only to be replaced by a campaign of political sabotage via its many million dollar funded NGOs, currently under the guise of contrived concern for women’s education.
False divisions inflamed
Imperialism is the master at using divide and conquer, and no less so now than during its hey-day of colonialism in the 19th and 20th centuries. In Afghanistan today, ethnicity, religion and “women’s rights” is being used by Western neo-colonialism to once again divide Afghans against each other. On top of this, the West can also roll out ISIS-K terror attacks on ethnicities such as Hazaras, which are then blamed on the Taliban. In turn, many pro-Western Hazaras then inflame a dubious separatist cause, with the full political backing of imperialism. Many ex-pat Hazaras disingenuously claim persecution at the hands of the Taliban, but originally Hazara leaders forcefully backed the Tajik and Uzbek led Northern Alliance against the Pashtun based Taliban. Many Hazaras then went on to work directly with and for the US military during its 20 year invasion of Afghanistan, an act of treachery against fellow Afghans. Given this history, it is hardly a surprise that the Taliban today retain some level of suspicion when many Hazaras again work with Washington to erode the IEA.
Even though the Taliban are largely Pashtun, they have no need to target other ethnicities – unless they work directly with the US empire against Afghanistan. In the same way, today’s Taliban does not seek to target women, or their education or their dress – unless imperialism is deliberately inflaming “women’s rights” and thus those parts of Islamic law which appear to directly contrast liberal Western values. Left alone to their own devices, the Taliban are more likely to allow women more integration into society – within the limits of their beliefs. On the other hand, pressure from imperialism to adopt Western liberal values towards women which they stridently disagree with – will likely lead the Taliban to impose more restrictions on education, dress, and so-called mixed gender activities. Washington is aware of this, and thus is prepared to push the Taliban into enforcing restrictions on women – which again gives them the political basis for yet another campaign for regime change in Afghanistan.
The Taliban apparently operate through a complex code of conduct called Pashtunwali. While Pashtunwali incorporates Islamic law in parts, in other parts it flagrantly contradicts Islamic law. Washington and the West can then use this to cynically claim that the Taliban are acting “against Islamic law” (like they care!) with regard to the education of women, enlisting their litany of NGOs to this “cause”. Yet the Taliban are not entirely unaware of the various ways imperialism acts in the most deceitful manner towards them. Earlier this year, the Taliban imposed a ban on the broadcasting of the BBC, DW and VoA (Voice of America) within Afghanistan. These outlets are openly funded by the Western imperialist states of the United Kingdom, Germany and the USA, respectively.
These US and European powers probably aim to once again set up the political conditions for yet another war on Afghanistan. And, like the 20-year war they recently “exited” from, the aim remains the same – to use Afghanistan as a forward base to pressure neighbouring Russia, China and Iran. While not offering any political support to the Taliban, workers the world over need to defend the sovereignty of Afghanistan and its right to conduct its own affairs free from imperialist interference. Ultimately, Afghanistan will only be free once the East and West forever banishes obsolete and decrepit capitalism, through a series of social revolutions which raises the working class to power. The Marxism of VI Lenin and LD Trotsky remains the key to forging political leaderships which can bring this about.
Photo credit: http://www.gulftoday.ae