Taliban would “roll back” Afghan women’s rights: US intelligence report

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The Taliban “would roll back much” of the progress made in Afghan women’s rights if the extremists regain national power, according to an assessment released on Tuesday by top US intelligence analysts.

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The US National Intelligence Council report likely will reinforce fears that the Taliban will resume the harsh treatment that women suffered under their 1996-2001 rule should the insurgents prevail in a full-blown civil war.

“The Taliban remains broadly consistent in its restrictive approach to women’s rights and would roll back much of the past two decades of progress if the group regains national power,” said the US intelligence community’s top analytical body.

At the same time, the council’s “Sense of the Community Memorandum” said women’s rights likely would be threatened after the US-led military coalition withdraws, a finding reflecting the conservative nature of Afghanistan’s male-dominated society.

“Progress (in women’s rights) probably owes more to external pressure than domestic support, suggesting it would be at risk after coalition withdrawal, even without Taliban efforts to reverse it,” the assessment said.

US President Joe Biden’s decision last month to withdraw the last 2,500 US troops - triggering the pullout of other foreign forces - is fueling fears Afghanistan could plunge into an all-out civil war that could return the Taliban to power.

Those concerns have been stoked by a deadlock in US-backed peace talks between a delegation that includes Kabul officials and the Taliban, who have been intensifying attacks on government forces.

A February 2020 US-Taliban accord struck by the Trump administration specified a May 1 deadline for completion of a US troop withdrawal from America’s longest war.

Biden, however, decided to complete the withdrawal before the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, al Qaeda attacks on the United States that triggered the US-led invasion.

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