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TOPIC: taliban

In The News

Zelensky Goes To Washington, Taliban New Women Ban, Santa Swims In Bangkok

👋 Haia!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrives in Washington on his first trip abroad since the Russian invasion, Taliban ban female students from university, and Lionel Messi becomes an Instagram world champion. Meanwhile, Russian-language independent website Vazhnyye Istorii/Important Stories reports on the situation in Chechnya, where strongman Ramzan Kadyrov’s strong pro-Russian rhetoric is at odds with the country’s real commitment to Moscow.

[*Welsch]

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One By One, The Former Soviet Republics Are Abandoning Putin

From Kazakhstan to Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Tajikistan, countries in Russia's orbit have refused to help him turn the tide in the Ukraine war. All (maybe even Belarus?) is coming to understand that his next step would be a complete restoration of the Soviet empire.

-Analysis-

KYIV — Virtually all of Vladimir Putin's last remaining partner countries in the region are gone from his grip. Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan have refused to help him turn the tide in the Ukraine war, because they've all come to understand that his next step would be a complete restoration of the empire, where their own sovereignty is lost.

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Before zooming in on the current state of relations in the region, and what it means for Ukraine's destiny, it's worth briefly reviewing the last 30 years of post-Soviet history.

The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) was first created in 1992 by the Kremlin to keep former republics from fully seceding from the former Soviet sphere of influence. The plan was simple: to destroy the local Communist elite, to replace them with "their" people in the former colonies, and then return these territories — never truly considered as independent states by any Russian leadership — into its orbit.

In a word - to restore the USSR.

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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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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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In The News
Lisa Berdet, Chloé Touchard and Lila Paulou

New Crimea Blast, Heat Forces China To Close Factories, Academy Apologizes To Littlefeather

👋 Kamusta!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where Crimea has been hit by the latest in a string of unexplained blasts, China orders 6-day closure for factories to combat record temperatures, and Native American actor Sacheen Littlefeather receives a belated apology from the Academy. Meanwhile, writing for Hong-Kong-based The Initium, Lee Yee On looks at the parallels between Taiwan and North Korea.

[*Filipino]

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In The News
Lila Paulou, Lisa Berdet, Laure Gautherin and Anne-Sophie Goninet

China’s Missile Drills, Taliban Doubts On Al-Zawahiri, Good Great Barrier Reef News

👋 Alii!*

Welcome to Thursday, where China launches missiles in largest ever drills near Taiwan following Nancy Pelosi’s visit, Germany braces for a potential energy gas crisis next winter, and there’s good news from Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Meanwhile, Die Welt visits Germany’s Baden-Baden, which went from the destination of choice for wealthy Russian tourists to a tourist ghost town.

[*Palauan, Republic of Palau]

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Migrant Lives
Sara Perria, Monica Perosino

Taliban To Traffickers — The Perilous Journey Of Women Fleeing Afghanistan

Staying in a theocracy whose rulers subjugate women was not an option, but trying to get to destinations in Europe and beyond comes with unthinkable perils of its own.

ATHENS — Hariana* always knew that fleeing Afghanistan would not be easy. But it turned out far worse than that.

Now 29, she fled to Iran with her family two years ago, but was sexually assaulted by her employer in Tehran. That prompted her to leave on her own for Europe. Hariana found herself as the only woman following a smuggler on a perilous journey that would be on foot, by bus and by sea.

"Once on the bus I looked around and got scared," she recalled. "The trafficker told me to get off. He wanted me for himself."

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In The News
Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Lila Paulou, McKenna Johnson, Joel Silvestri and Lisa Berdet

BRICS Meeting, Maradona Homicide Charges, Longer Tweets

👋 Mandi!*

Welcome to Thursday, where BRICS members are meeting for the first time since the Ukraine war began, a judge in Argentina orders a homicide trial for medical staff of football legend Diego Maradona and Twitter tests a new feature to push its character limit. Meanwhile, Ukrainian media Livy Bereg looks at the reasons why Belarus might not be so keen on joining the war against Ukraine.

[*Friulian, Italy]

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Geopolitics
Ahmad Ra'fat

Why Ukraine War Won't Slow Iran's Quest To Become A Nuclear Power

A new round of comments from inside Iran's leadership ranks reaffirms its intention to produce a nuclear bomb, a decades-long cat and mouse game between the regime and an ever cautious West that hasn't seemed to change even as the Russia-Ukraine war brings in a new world order.

-OpEd-

Ali Mottahari, a former deputy-speaker of the Iranian Parliament, recently revealed that "right from the start of our nuclear activity, our aim was to build a bomb and strengthen our deterrent force. But we couldn't keep this a secret." It appeared he was admitting to what regional and Western states have long suspected and Iran's regime denies — that it wants to make nuclear bombs.

Mottahari's father, Morteza Mottahari, was a prominent theologian and confidante of the late revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. This has allowed his son to speak with relative freedom under the Islamic Republic. In comments to a local press outlet broadcast on April 22, Mottahari blamed the Mujahedin-e Khalq, a Marxist opposition group, for revealing Iran's supposed nuclear plans.

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In The News
Anne-Sophie Goninet, Lorraine Olaya and Bertrand Hauger

100,000 Trapped In Mariupol As Odessa Braces For Russian Attack

👋 བཀྲ་ཤིས་བདེ་ལགས།*

Welcome to Wednesday, where an estimated 100,000 are still trapped in Mariupol, the black box has been found in the China Eastern Airlines crash, and Zoom meetings are about to become wild. We also explore, from a Swedish perspective, how the COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a resurgence of labor unions.

[*Tashi delek - Tibetan]

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Society
Francesca Mannocchi

Taliban Education, Inside A Madrasa Islamic School Shaping Afghanistan's Future

No girls, no science, no foreign languages, only the Koran. This is how the Taliban want to erase the generation of students educated for 20 years by the "Western usurpers." La Stampa's Francesca Mannocchi visits one of the rigid, boys-only madrasas near Kabul.

KABUL — When I ask Mufti Hayatullah Masroor to choose a text for the morning lesson in the Al-Jami'a Al-Islamiya Al-Mohammadia-Kabul madrasa he oversees in Qala Haidar Khan, a village outside Kabul, he takes his time, approaches the shelf where he keeps his books, flips through it, carefully selects the lines, and reads this hadith aloud: "I heard the Messenger of Allah say, 'Every woman who dies will enter Paradise if God has been pleased with her behavior'."

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In The News
Anne-Sophie Goninet and Laure Gautherin

Sanctioning Putin Directly, Relaxing COVID rules, Mekong Species

👋 Grüezi!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where the U.S. threatens Vladimir Putin with personal sanctions, COVID restrictions are easing from Beijing to Copenhagen and we count the Mekong region’s newly discovered wildlife. Weekly news magazine Jeune Afrique also looks at Morocco’s unique counseling-centered response to Islamic extremism.

[*Swiss German]

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