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Taliban torn over reforms one yr after seizing energy

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KABUL: One yr on from the Taliban’s return to energy in Afghanistan, some cracks are opening inside their ranks over the essential query of simply how a lot reform their leaders can tolerate.

Notorious throughout their first reign for his or her brutal crackdowns on rights and freedoms, the group vowed to rule in a different way this time.

On a superficial degree a minimum of, they seem to have modified in some respects.

Officers in Kabul have embraced know-how, whereas cricket matches are cheered in full stadiums.

Televisions have been banned beneath the Taliban authorities’s first incarnation, whereas Afghans now have entry to the web and social media.

Ladies are allowed to attend main faculty and ladies journalists are interviewing authorities officers — unthinkable throughout the Taliban’s first stint in energy within the Nineties.

The group’s hardline core, composed of battle-hardened veteran fighters, is in opposition to any important ideological change that might be considered as an indication of capitulation to their enemies within the West.

“You could have one (Taliban) camp, which is pushing forward with what they’re seeing as reforms, and one other camp that appears to assume even these meagre reforms are an excessive amount of,” mentioned Ibraheem Bahiss, an Afghanistan analyst with Worldwide Disaster Group.

The USA and its allies — which had bankrolled Afghanistan for 20 years — have locked the nation out of the worldwide banking system and billions in frozen belongings overseas, as they maintain out for reforms from the Taliban.

With out important progress, it’s the Afghan individuals who endure because the nation reels beneath a large financial disaster that has seen some households select between promoting their organs or their toddler daughters.

‘Retrograde dogmatic views’

On whether or not the Taliban are even able to reform, analysts are cautious that current coverage modifications quantity to little greater than “tokenism”.

“There are some circumstances the place we may level to an evolution in coverage, however let’s be very clear […] We’re nonetheless taking a look at an organisation that has refused to maneuver past very retrograde, dogmatic views,” mentioned Michael Kugelman, an Afghanistan specialist with the Washington-based Wilson Heart assume tank.

Most secondary colleges for women stay closed. Many ladies have been compelled out of presidency work, whereas many concern venturing out and being chastised by the Taliban.

Easy joys corresponding to music, shisha and card video games are strictly managed in essentially the most conservative areas, whereas protests have been crushed and journalists often threatened or detained.

Calls for from the West for an inclusive authorities have been ignored, and the assassination of Al-Qaeda’s chief in Kabul final week underlined the Taliban’s ongoing ties with jihadist teams.

Reform as capitulation

It’s from the Taliban’s energy base of southern Kandahar that the secretive supreme chief Hibatullah Akhundzada gathers his highly effective inside circle of veteran fighters and spiritual clerics to impose a harsh interpretation of sharia.

And for them, ideological considerations outweigh any political or financial drivers to impact change.

“The wants of the Afghans stay the identical as 20 years in the past,” Mohammad Omar Khitabi, a member of a council of clerics who advise Akhundzada in Kandahar, informed AFP.

His ideas are echoed by Kandahar’s Vice and Advantage Director Abdul Rahman Tayabi, one other shut aide of the supreme chief.

“Our individuals should not have too many calls for, like individuals in different international locations might need,” he informed AFP.

Afghan households have been left shocked in March when Akhundzada overturned the schooling ministry’s resolution to reopen secondary colleges for women.

Some analysts imagine he felt uneasy over what might be seen by hardliners as an act of give up to the West on women’ rights.

Hopes of restoring worldwide cash flows have been shattered — to the dismay of many Taliban officers in Kabul, a few of whom spoke out in opposition to the choice.

Relations with Western diplomats — who meet often with Taliban ministers however haven’t any entry to Akhundzada — suffered a significant setback.

A slew of directives that harked again to the primary reign of the Taliban shortly adopted.

“The selections that (Akhundzada) has made to this point are all primarily based on the opinions of non secular students,” mentioned Abdul Hadi Hammad, the top of a madrassa and member of the supreme chief’s advisory council.

Akhundzada has confused the necessity for unity within the motion as he fastidiously seeks to stability a number of factions — together with competing teams that declare the credit score for the 2021 victory over US-led forces.

Whereas advisers to Akhundzada declare the Taliban can survive with out overseas revenue, unlocking billions of {dollars} in frozen belongings overseas could be an important lifeline.

“We all know the Taliban will be transactional, however they can’t look like transactional,” a Western diplomat informed AFP on situation of anonymity.

Financial strain

Throughout the motion, nobody dares overtly problem Akhundzada’s energy, however discontent is quietly rising among the many decrease ranks.

“Taliban guards are getting their salaries late, and their salaries are low too. They’re sad,” mentioned one mid-level Taliban official primarily based in northwestern Pakistan, who requested to not be named.

Many have returned to their villages or travelled to Pakistan to take up totally different work, one other Taliban member added.

Makes an attempt by the motion to shore up income by way of profitable coal mining have sparked infighting within the north, exacerbated by ethnic divisions and spiritual sectarianism.

With winter only some months away, meals safety and freezing temperatures will put much more strain on the leaders of one of many world’s poorest international locations.

These mounting stresses have the potential to worsen divisions, Kugelman mentioned, although possible not sufficient to power any dramatic shift in coverage.

“If the Taliban management begin to really feel very actual threats to their political survival, then may they modify?” he requested.

“Provided that they’re ideologically centered, that might not be the case.”

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Bangladesh boat tragedy demise toll hits 40

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Dhaka: Rescue staff recovered 15 extra our bodies on Monday after a ship carrying spiritual pilgrims capsized in Bangladesh, taking the demise toll to 40 with dozens nonetheless lacking, police mentioned.

The small boat packed largely with ladies and kids on their approach to a preferred temple flipped over on Sunday in a river as onlookers screamed from the shore.

The incident close to the distant northern city of Boda was the most recent in a string of comparable tragedies blamed on poor upkeep and overcrowding within the low-lying delta nation.
Boda police chief Sujoy Kumar Roy mentioned fireplace service and navy divers recovered 15 our bodies within the Karotoa River downstream from the place the boat tipped over.

It was carrying round 90 individuals, of whom round 50 had been pilgrims on their approach to the centuries-old Hindu temple for a serious competition, in accordance with police.

“Many individuals are nonetheless lacking. Our joint search and rescue operation is ongoing,” Roy informed AFP.

Police mentioned they’ve lowered the variety of lacking individuals as some have reported that they’ve discovered family who had swum to security. However dozens are nonetheless believed to be lacking, cops mentioned.

District police chief Sirajul Huda mentioned the boat was carrying 3 times its capability.
“There have been heavy rains within the morning and that’s the reason when the ferrying started, pilgrims packed the boat to make it rapidly to the temple,” he informed AFP.

“The boatman requested some individuals to disembark in an effort to ease the weight-load. However nobody listened,” he mentioned.

Native media mentioned no less than 10 individuals had been rescued and despatched to hospital.

Cell phone footage aired by TV station Channel 24 confirmed the overcrowded boat abruptly flipping over, spilling the passengers into the muddy brown river.
Dozens of individuals watching from the shore began shouting and screaming. The climate was calm on the time.

Hundreds of Hindus in Muslim-majority Bangladesh go to the well-known Bodeshwari Temple yearly.

Sunday marked the beginning of Durga Puja, the most important Hindu competition in Bangladesh — and in addition jap India — drawing massive crowds on the temple.

Final December, round 40 individuals perished when a packed three-storey ferry caught fireplace in southern Bangladesh.

A ferry sank in Dhaka in June 2020 after a collision with one other vessel, killing no less than 32 individuals.

And no less than 78 individuals perished in 2015 when an overcrowded ship collided with a cargo vessel in a river west of the capital.

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Tensions flare as Jewish settlers storm Al-Aqsa complicated

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JERUSALEM: Tensions are working excessive in occupied East Jerusalem as Jewish settlers continued their incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque complicated on Monday.

Settlers protected by Israeli safety forces stormed the compound as they mark the Jewish vacation of Rosh Hashanah, which started on Sunday.

On Monday, Israeli officers shepherded in dozens of settlers by the compound’s al-Mughrabi gate, witnesses instructed Anadolu Company.

There was heavy police presence on the compound, with officers even scaling the Qibli Mosque, one of many essential prayer halls within the complicated.

Over the previous week, a number of Jewish extremist teams urged settlers to storm Al-Aqsa throughout the Rosh Hashanah vacation. Palestinian teams have referred to as on Palestinians to keep up a presence on the complicated over the approaching days.

Israeli safety personnel assaulted Palestinians and compelled many to depart the compound, whereas additionally blocking dozens extra from getting into, witnesses stated.

At the very least two Palestinians wanted medical consideration after assaults by Israeli forces, in accordance with the Palestinian Pink Crescent Society.

Al-Aqsa Mosque is the world’s third-holiest web site for Muslims. Jews name the realm the Temple Mount, saying it was the location of two Jewish temples in historic instances.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, the place Al-Aqsa is situated, throughout the 1967 Arab-Israeli conflict. It annexed the whole metropolis in 1980, a transfer by no means acknowledged by the worldwide group.

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Voting continues in 4 areas of Ukraine on becoming a member of Russia

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KYIV: The Kremlin stated on Monday it was in “sporadic” contact with the US on nuclear subject, a day after Washington warned of “catastrophic penalties” if Moscow used nuclear weapons to guard Ukrainian areas it appears set to annex.

Residents in 4 areas of Ukraine had been voting for a fourth day on Monday in Moscow-organised referendums on becoming a member of Russia, a plan Kyiv and the West have branded a sham. They are saying the outcomes are pre-determined and they won’t recognise the outcomes.

However by incorporating the 4 areas – Luhansk and Donetsk within the east and Zaporizhzhia and Kherson within the south – Moscow may painting Ukraine’s efforts to retake them as assaults on Russia itself.

President Vladimir Putin stated final week Moscow was prepared to make use of nuclear weapons to defend any of its territory as he introduced a mobilisation drive that threatens to considerably escalate the seven-month-old battle in Ukraine.

US Nationwide Safety Adviser Jake Sullivan stated on Sunday the US would reply “decisively” to any Russian use of nuclear weapons towards Ukraine, with out elaborating. He stated Washington had privately informed Moscow “precisely what that will imply”.

Requested on Monday about Sullivan’s feedback, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated: “There are channels for dialogue on the correct degree, however they’re of a really sporadic nature. Not less than they permit for the alternate of some emergency messages about one another’s positions.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy stated he didn’t imagine Putin was bluffing when the Kremlin chief stated Moscow could be prepared to make use of nuclear weapons to defend Russia.

Door-to-door voting

The exiled mayor of Russian-controlled Melitopol within the Zaporizhzhia area condemned the referendums – that are because of finish on Tuesday – as “a faux and a farce”.

“The voting takes place in entrance of assault rifles, males with weapons… Individuals are grabbed proper on the road and are compelled to vote not just for themselves however for his or her entire households,” he stated by way of videolink from an undisclosed location.

Fedorov additionally accused Russia of forcibly enlisting Ukrainian males in occupied areas into its armed forces.

“As we speak the scenario is essential: our residents are scared, our residents are panicking, they don’t know what’s going to occur tomorrow and when they are going to really take our individuals away for enlisting,” he stated.

The governor of Luhansk, one other area Moscow goals to annex, stated Russian-backed officers had been carrying poll containers from door to door, accompanied by safety officers.

Residents’ names had been taken down in the event that they didn’t vote accurately or refused to solid a poll, Serhiy Gaidai stated.

“Representatives of the occupation forces are going from house to house with poll containers. This can be a secret poll, proper?” Gaidai stated in an interview posted on-line.

The 4 areas signify about 15% of Ukraine. Russian forces don’t management all of the territory in these areas, the place preventing nonetheless rages. They’d add to Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014 after the same referendum there.

Ukraine, bolstered by refined Western weapons, has recaptured swathes of territory over the previous month, prompting Putin final week to order Russia’s first navy mobilisation since World Conflict Two to enlist 300,000 further troops.

Protests

Kremlin spokesman Peskov stated on Monday Russia had taken no selections on closing its borders, amid an exodus of military-age males since Putin’s announcement, which goals to enlist some 300,000 reservists.

Virtually 17,000 Russians crossed the border into Finland over the weekend, Finnish authorities stated, whereas Russian state media stated the estimated wait to enter Georgia hit 48 hours at one level on Sunday, with greater than 3,000 automobiles queuing.

Greater than 2,000 individuals have been detained throughout Russia for protests on the draft, says unbiased monitoring group OVD-Information. With criticism of the battle banned, the demonstrations had been among the many first indicators of discontent for the reason that struggle started.

A 25-year-old gunman opened hearth at a draft workplace on Monday within the Irkutsk area of Siberia, the native governor stated.

In Russia’s Muslim-majority southern area of Dagestan, police clashed with protesters, resulting in the detention of at the least 100 individuals.

Peskov acknowledged that some call-ups had been issued in error, saying errors had been being corrected by regional governors and the ministry of defence.

In a Sunday video clip, Zelenskiy addressed Russian protesters straight: “Carry on preventing in order that your kids won’t be despatched to their deaths – all these that may be drafted by this felony Russian mobilisation.”

“As a result of for those who come to remove the lives of our youngsters … we won’t allow you to get away alive.”

Patriarch Kirill, the pinnacle of Russia’s Orthodox Church and a detailed ally of Putin, stated anyone who sacrificed themselves on the battlefield could be “cleansed…of all of the sins they’ve dedicated”.

Ukrainian officers stated on Monday that additional heavy preventing had seen greater than 40 cities hit by Russian shelling, principally in southern and southeast Ukraine.

Zelenskiy stated Ukraine had found two extra mass burial websites containing the our bodies of a whole lot of individuals within the northeastern city of Izium, a part of territory recaptured from Russian forces this month.

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