Taliban, Afghanistan, Lin O'donnell discussed on Monocle 24: The Globalist


Influence over daily life in Afghanistan deepened once again last week. Female pupils at secondary schools have been told they wouldn't be allowed to attend, and the BBC has seen its services banned from Afghanistan too. Well, Lin O'Donnell is a columnist for foreign policy magazine. She's a regular voice here in Monaco 24. Good morning, Lin. Hello. How are you? Very good to have you. It delighted to have you back on the radio with us. Just to explain to us what these latest announcements have involved, please. Well, we saw last week that the Taliban's education minister interim as is. Announced that from the start of the new school year, which was the 23rd girls would be permitted to return to secondary school, girls haven't been in school for a long time. Girls were only allowed to go back to primary school a couple of months out of the Taliban took over on August 15th last year and girls have been kept out of secondary school ever since. So there was a lot of anticipation and a feeling that finally there'd been a breakthrough in behind the scenes negotiations with the Taliban because equal education has been made very clear to them as a condition for the release of funds that the country needs to keep functioning. Girls went to school, they put on their school uniforms, black shower, commies, tunic and trousers, white head scarves, and went to school on Wednesday, only to be told a couple of hours later that it was all over. They had to go home and wait for another order. Since that happened, there have been an awful lot of other orders, as you say, foreign news broadcasts have been taken off the air, not just the BBC, but Voice of America as well. The services have been forced to close, girls have also been told and women that they can't go to public parks at the same time as men. Women have been told that they had to be covered from head to toe. So not just the awful burger that has the grill in front of the face, but the hijab, and they're not even allowed to show their feet. Men have been told that they have to trim they're not allowed to any more trim their beards if they're going into public buildings. It's just getting stricter and stricter by the day. Someone might suggest that while the world's back is turned on Afghanistan because the focus is on Ukraine, the Taliban are taking advantage. Yes, and I have suggested that myself in foreign policy, I think that that is an excuse. But anyone who thought that the Taliban weren't going to be the Taliban that they were in 1996 to 2001 when they last were in government in Afghanistan. Really hasn't been paying attention. There hasn't been any change in their ideology. Everything is rolling out just the way it did way back then. What seems to be interesting though is that what you just mentioned a moment ago that the allowing children to go girls to go back to secondary school was a condition of the release of funds which would help a country which is starving. Does this suggest that the Taliban really doesn't care whether it gets international money anymore? Yes, I think that you're right. I've spoken to people who are very close to the government go in and out of the presidential palace that is now the center of the Taliban's authority. And they do not care the Taliban government guys drive past women begging on the street of selling their shoes, trying to get money. They know the stories as well as you and I do about people selling their children selling their kidneys just to get money. The Taliban do not care. They're making a lot of money through the customs and border points on trade. Hundreds of millions of dollars over the past 7 months since they've been in power. And they are the biggest drugs dealing cartel in the world. They have money. They don't really need the money that the international community has to offer. And whether or not if it came into the country and had to pass through their hands, it would make it to the people who need it is another question. There's a lot of algebra in the international community about wanting really to believe that things will get better that they are changing, but all the signs from the Taliban are that they haven't changed and they don't care. So who is helping them? We had a surprising visit by China's foreign minister who did a stopover in Kabul last week. What does that suggest about the people who will be doing business at the Taliban? And who don't mind? With the Chinese over the past 7 months given a total of $33 million worth of aid, a lot of it in the form of medicines and COVID vaccinations. They're not putting money into NGOs, local NGOs, for instance, to provide food and arms for people who need relief. At the Chinese are interested in doing business when it comes to minerals controlling minerals supply, oil and gas in the north. They're hosting a meeting in the coming days of regional foreign ministers. Lending support. The Taliban have had a relationship with the Chinese government for decades for 2025 years. The Chinese have a contract for the control of the world's second biggest copper deposit, which is near Kabul, that they've done nothing with. It's all about price and supply control for the Chinese authorities. They'd like to build railroads through Afghanistan, so they can get their manufactured goods to their markets in Europe faster. Nobody wants to help. The organization of Islamic countries has had at least one big meeting in neighboring Pakistan, focusing on the situation in Afghanistan, but no money and no aid has flowed into Afghanistan from that meeting and there will be another with the same likely result. Nobody's helping out. There are small grassroots NGOs that put money and aid into grassroots communities directly without any overheads and the UN is saying that it needs another 8 to $10 billion to help the people of Afghanistan in the coming year. That's about it. The international community is ringing its hands about the situation in Afghanistan. And even the Chinese government said yesterday in announcing the foreign ministers meeting in coming days that they'll be relying on the United States to help in the reconstruction, the post war reconstruction of Afghanistan. Lynn O'Donnell, thank you, as ever for joining us on monocle 24..

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