Thursday, October 6

Zawahiri’s ghost fades in a Kabul threatened by Daesh



A week after the United States assassinated Ayman Al Zawahiri in the Sherpur neighborhood, the Al Qaeda leader is a forgotten ghost in an Afghan capital where the red and black religious flags of the minority Shiites dwarf the white ensigns of the ’emirate’. You have to move away from Sherpur, where the press continues to be unwelcome by the Taliban, heading west to reach the Shia stronghold, a sect to which the Hazara ethnic group belongs. Ashura is commemorated here amid strong security measures since “about 120 people have died and been injured in the explosions that have occurred in recent days,” according to the United Nations. The jihadist group Daesh (Islamic State), an enemy of the Taliban, has claimed responsibility for these attacks that occurred in mosques such as Imam Baqer’s, in Sare Kariz, where the ’emirate’s security forces now keep all access blocked. Photos of some of the fallen have been placed on the doors of the small temple, but it is not allowed to take out the camera or talk to the neighbors. A cordon of bearded men, AK-47 in hand, monitors the flow of faithful and frisks everyone who passes by one by one. The Ashura remembers the martyrdom of Hussein, Muhammad’s grandson, 1,330 years ago, which widened the schism in the Muslim world opened after the death of the Prophet and meant the definitive separation between Shiites, followers of the Prophet’s family, and Sunnis, who chose for the caliphs. A schism that in the recent history of Afghanistan is marked by the sectarian violence of the Taliban and Daesh against this minority that has once again been beaten in the streets of the capital in recent days. In places like Baghdad, on Ashura, worshipers beat their heads with swords and knives until they bleed to remember Hussein’s martyrdom. In Kabul they don’t, but the streets of these Shiite neighborhoods near Darul Aman’s palace still bear the bloody traces of those killed in the explosions. Related News standard No A “missile over the balcony”: this was the CIA precision attack to assassinate Al Zawahiri The execution took place at 6 in the morning, local time, and an unmanned vehicle was used The tension before the The escalation of sectarian attacks led the Islamist authorities to suspend mobile phone service, citing “security reasons”. The telephone blackout left Kabul incommunicado since morning and voices critical of Islamists, such as that of the poet and women’s rights activist, Hoda Khamosh, warned that “the Taliban are trying to disconnect people from the world, they are looking for a cover to their oppression. Crimes cannot be hidden by disconnecting people from the world.” Khamosh fears that the blackout will extend to August 15, the date that marks one year since the Taliban’s return to power and on which “they know that people are tired.” Anniversary of the ’emirate’ The Kabul international airport retains the name of Hamid Karzai in large blue letters, although the former president has dropped the ‘d’ and has remained in ‘Hami’ after a year of the Taliban at the head of the country. Given the refusal of international companies to resume flights to the Afghan capital, it is the two national lines, Ariana and Kam Air, that are multiplying their efforts to keep this entry and exit door open. A door that only privileged Afghans who have a passport with a visa can afford to open or the 350 euros it costs to travel to Dubai or 500 euros if they want to fly to Istanbul. A fortune in a country in ruins where getting something to eat has become the priority of every day for millions of people. Impossible to make plans. Nothing to celebrate «I find it hard to find something positive in my life during this last year. I could say security, but we already see what is happening in Kabul. If there are fewer incidents in the rest of the country, it is because now those who provoked them are in power, that is the only reason,” Mohamed (not his real name) reflects aloud, who was surprised by the return of the Taliban when he was serving his third year as a soldier of the then Afghan National Army (ANA). In recent months they have called him from the Ministry of Defense, but “they soon sent me back home because they only trust their own,” laments this 29-year-old ex-military man, who spends the day hardly leaving home. Mohamed, like thousands of other Afghans, was trained to confront the Taliban and protect places like Sherpur or Shiite neighborhoods, which for two decades were targets of Islamist attacks. Zawahiri joins the list of those killed in Sherpur, an area frequented by expatriates where in 2014 more than 20 people died in the assault on a Lebanese restaurant and in 2017 more than 150 were killed by the explosion of a truck bomb at the gates of the German legation, shares with the seal of the Haqqani network, a faction that had Osama Bin Laden’s successor as a guest. In the past twelve months, the Taliban have gone from enforcers to defenders, now sheltering behind walls that have been erected to prevent their own attacks and car bombs. This new role begins to overwhelm them as seen with Zawahiri and Daesh’s repeated blows against the Hazaras.


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