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Afghanistan

Green

The Environmental Ruin Left Behind By The U.S. In Afghanistan

Twenty years of American military intervention and occupation have left vast ecological damage that may never be repaired.

ACHIN — Birds dip between low branches that hang over glittering brooks along the drive from Jalalabad heading south toward the Achin district of Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province. Then, the landscape changes, as lush fields give way to barren land.

Up ahead, Achin is located among a rise of rocky mountains that line the border with Pakistan, a region pounded by American bombs since the beginning of the war.

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Where Imperialism Goes To Die: Lessons From Afghanistan To Ukraine


With multilateral diplomacy in tatters, the fighting gumption of weaker states against aggression by bigger powers is helping end the age of empires.

-Analysis-

BOGOTÁ — Just a century ago, imperialism was alive and kicking. Today, the nasty habit of marching into other countries is moribund, as can be seen from the plains of Ukraine.

The invasion was part of President Vladimir Putin's decades-long dream of restoring the Russian empire or the Soviet Union, for which he would resort to genocide if need be, like his communist predecessors. Only this time, the targeted victim turned out to be too big a mouthful.

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When Putin leaves, sooner or later, with his tail between his legs, this will have been a sorry end to one of the last illusions of empire — unless, of course, China tries a similar move down the line.

This isn't the only imperialist endeavor to have failed in recent decades (and it has, when you think Putin thought his armies would sweep into Kyiv within days). Afghanistan resisted two invasions, Iraq was the setting of another imperialist disaster, as was Kuwait, with a bit of help from the Yankee sheriff on that occasion. In fact, besides some rather targeted interventions, one would have to move back several more decades to find an example of "victorious" imperialism, for want of better words. Which is very good news.

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Psychedelics For PTSD? Tests In The World's Latest Wars, From Ukraine To Afghanistan

Psychedelic-assisted MDMA therapy for PTSD has shown some promise in the West, but plans to export it globally may be premature.

When the war in Ukraine broke out, many countries and agencies around the world lent their support in the form of financial aid, weapons, and food. But Olga Chernoloz, a Ukrainian neuroscientist based in Canada, wanted to provide a different kind of assistance: a combination of therapy and the psychedelic drug MDMA.

Such therapy, she said, could help countless people on the ground who are suffering from psychological trauma. “I thought that the most efficacious way I could be of help,” she told Undark, “would be to bring psychedelic-assisted therapy to Ukraine.” Chernoloz’s confidence stems in part from the results of clinical trials on MDMA to treat post-traumatic stress disorder in vulnerable populations, which suggest that such treatments may improve symptoms, or do away with them altogether. But the approach is experimental and has not yet cleared major regulatory hurdles in Canada, Europe, or the United States.

Still, Chernoloz, who is a professor at the University of Ottawa, plans on carrying out clinical trials with Ukrainian refugees in a psychedelic center in the Netherlands in early 2024.

This month, Chernoloz and her colleagues organized an education session for 20 Ukrainian therapists to learn about MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD from the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, or MAPS, one of the most influential organizations dedicated to education and promotion of psychedelic drugs.

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Two Years On, A Dangerous Temptation To Recognize The Taliban

After taking control of Kabul two years ago, the Taliban has continued to present a threat to human rights in the region. But the Taliban's takeover, now slowly nearing official recognition by some governments, has also posed challenges for the country's neighbors, including Iran and Pakistan.

-Analysis-

The dramatic and rapid Taliban offensive in the spring of 2021 culminated in its takeover of Kabul on August 15. The chaos of the western withdrawal that surrounded the return of the Taliban represented a sad endpoint of two decades of failed US-led attempts to impose a liberal democratic system on a country that had hosted al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden and facilitated his masterminding of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

For Afghanistan, the return of the Taliban marked the beginning of a deeply illiberal regime that is particularly hostile to women and minorities.

The swiftness of the Taliban takeover confounded more optimistic U.S. and UK predictions about the survival of the Afghan government. But most of its consequences were entirely predictable, and indeed predicted – from the worsening human rights situation to an economic crisis.

Five million Afghans fled the country and over three million were internally displaced, according to the UN refugee agency’s update in July 2023. The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan is now at an unprecedented critical level: more than 18 million people – just under half the Afghan population – face acute food-insecurity.

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This Happened

This Happened — August 11: Al-Qaeda Is Formed

Al-Qaeda was formed on this day in 1988 by Osama bin Laden, Abdullah Azzam, and other key individuals.

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Sources
Worldcrunch

Iran And The Taliban: The Drug Connection

WORLDCRUNCH MAGAZINE 37 • JUNE 12 - JUNE 18, 2023

Geopolitics
Pierre Haski

Water War Or Religious Strife? Trouble At The Iran-Afghanistan Border

Iran and Afghanistan have long had a tense relationship. Recent skirmishes at their shared border indicate that conflict is escalating, but the causes are unclear.

-Analysis-

PARIS — For now, there have been only a few skirmishes, which have resulted in several deaths. But a larger conflict is brewing between Afghanistan and Iran, two neighbors that have already had a difficult relationship. Each one accuses the other, and the two have been sending military reinforcements to the border, which is more than 900 kilometers long.

The risk of further escalation has only been growing.

Like every conflict, it has its immediate causes, as well as a broader context. The immediate issue is water. Tehran is accusing Kabul of violating an accord which dates back to 1973, which governs the flow of the Helmand River, a vital source of water for both countries. For Iran, Afghanistan’s construction of new hydroelectric and irrigation dams has affected the 1,000 km river’s downstream flow, which has only exacerbated the impact of existing droughts.

Afghanistan denies these accusations, and blames climate change, rather than dams, for the droughts Iran has been experiencing. Here lies a problem that a growing part of the world is experiencing: the transformation of water into a strategic resource worth fighting for.

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Green Or Gone
Ruchi Kumar

Confronting Climate Change And The Taliban In Afghanistan

Amid a severe drought, Afghan scientists are asking the international community to engage with the brutal regime.

This past December, a fleet of colorful swan-shaped boats lined the muddy banks of Qargha Lake, a reservoir on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan. The boats’ owner, 50-year-old Shah Maqsoud Habibi, said his business has vanished, along with much of the lake, a once popular weekend destination for war weary Afghans.

Over the past few years, a series of droughts have gripped the country, causing reservoirs and other water bodies to dry up. “If there is no water, there is no business for me, and without work, I cannot feed my family,” said Habibi.

Local residents share similar concerns. “I have lived here for 16 years, and this is the first time I am seeing the lake empty,” said 21-year-old Rashid Samim. For two years, he hasn’t been able to properly water his apple and cherry orchards or his modest potato farm, leading to smaller yields.

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This Happened

This Happened—December 23: The Soviets Invade Afghanistan

On this day in 1979, the Soviet Union intervened in support of the Afghan communist government in its conflict with anti-communist Muslim guerrillas during the Afghan War, after Afghanistan’s centrist government was overthrown by left-wing military officers led by Nur Mohammad Taraki.

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In The News
Chloé Touchard, Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou and Anne-Sophie Goninet

Ukraine Convoy Attack, Kabul School Blast, The King’s Coins

👋 Akkam!*

Welcome to Friday, where an attack on a line of civilian cars kills at least 25 in Ukraine, a suicide bomb attack in Kabul leaves 23 dead, and the first coins with King Charles’ portrait are unveiled. Meanwhile, Timour Ozturk reports from Istanbul for French daily Les Echos on how the historic Turkish city becomes the prime destination for Russians fleeing military conscription.

[*Oromo, Ethiopia]

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Society
Elaine Unterhalter

With Taliban Back In Power, Brave Afghan Girls Again Risk Everything For An Education

Certain teachers and female students face extraordinary risks in clandestine schools for girls, recalling similar secret education operations when the Taliban were in charge before 9/11.

In August 2021 the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan, and since then secondary education for girls in the country has been banned. However, there have been reports of clandestine girls’ schools operating despite the ban. Teenage girls are reportedly taking extraordinary risks to attend lessons. Their teachers bravely share knowledge, even if they do not have extensive experience or the backup of an education system.

Education for girls was also banned during the previous era of Taliban rule in Afghanistan (1996-2001). In this period, too, girls attended secret schools.

Not much was known about these schools during Taliban rule. A 1997 report noted that the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan supported 125 girls’ schools and 87 co-education primary schools and home schools. An article in the Guardian in July 2001 stated that aid agencies had estimated 45,000 children were attending secret schools.

After the defeat of the Taliban in 2001, the educational work of the Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), which they carried out during Taliban rule, was much documented.

Before 9/11, there was very limited international knowledge of these secret schools for girls. But after 9/11, the misogynistic actions of the Taliban regarding women’s rights and girls’ education became a pillar of the argument for the U.S. War against Terror.

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Geopolitics
Carolina Drüten

How China Is Doing Business With The Taliban

After withdrawing from Afghanistan, the U.S. left a power vacuum. The Taliban regime is officially isolated internationally, but the country has vast mineral resources — on which Beijing is keeping a close eye.

KABUL — An hour's drive outside Kabul, at the foothills of the Hindu Kush mountain range, three men are drilling for water. It is day three of the construction work, and they are laying the foundation stone for a 130-hectare industrial park. They are being paid with Chinese money. The company China Town Kabul wants to use the industrial park to attract factories from the People's Republic to Afghanistan. The project has been approved by the Taliban, who have been in power in Afghanistan for a year.

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