Monday, May 10, 2021

Afghanistan Bomb Attack on Girls Highlights Threat to Women’s Education

Things are going badly in Afghanistan.

And at almost 20 years, I doubt the U.S. could do more to secure the country, besides sending in 500,000 troops and just take the whole place over. We're still in Germany, Japan, and South Korea, for darned sake, and as it is the U.S. would probably defend Taiwan against a Chinese invasion, although who knows that "China Joe" Biden has up his sleeves? Both China and Russia are major threats, and it'd be nice to know exactly which country --- or countries --- hacked the East Coast power grid a few days ago. But it probably doesn't matter, because this kind of thing is going to happen more often, a lot more often, and the Dems probably do not care.

In any case, I'm not against the Afghan pullout, though I've also thought the most noble element of our intervention in that country has been our great earlier success at improving human rights, especially for women.

At WSJ, "Kabul residents on Sunday buried dozens of schoolgirls killed by explosions outside a school":

KABUL—Zainab Maqsudi, 13 years old, exited the library and walked toward the main gate of the Sayed Shuhada school to go home on Saturday when she was blown backward by an explosion. When she stood up, the air was thick with dust and smoke, and she was surrounded by shattered glass.

“Suicide attack!” everyone yelled, she said, reflecting how common such attacks have become in Afghanistan. She noticed she was bleeding from her arms. An older sister took her to hospital.

“I’m not sure if I will go back to school when I recover,” Zainab, who is in seventh grade, said from her hospital bed Sunday, with her parents by her side. “I don’t want to get hurt again. My body shakes when I think about what happened.”

Preventing girls like Zainab from going to school was the likely goal of the terrorists behind Saturday’s attack in a predominantly Shiite neighborhood of Kabul. Widening access to women’s education was one of the most tangible achievements of the 20-year U.S. presence in Afghanistan—progress that could be reversed once American forces leave the country later this year.

Afghan authorities on Sunday raised the official death toll from Saturday’s attack that targeted schoolgirls at Sayed Shuhada to 53. It was the latest assault on the area’s mostly Shiite Hazara minority, which in recent months has suffered horrific attacks by Islamic State’s Afghan affiliate, including on a maternity ward and an education center.

No group has claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack. The Afghan president blamed the Taliban. The Taliban denied responsibility and condemned the bombings, accusing Islamic State of being behind them.

On Sunday, residents of the Afghan capital spent the day burying dozens of schoolgirls on a hillside on the outskirts of the capital. Hospitals across the city treated dozens of injured, including several who remained in intensive care.

The attack followed a rise in targeted assassinations of activists, politicians and female journalists. “We know if there is further violence, the groups who will be most vulnerable are women and girls,” said Shaharzad Akbar, chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. “The message this attack sends to children, especially to girls going to school, is a very bleak one, a very scary one.”

The Biden administration last month set Sept. 11 as the deadline for all U.S. forces to leave Afghanistan, but U.S. officials have suggested the drawdown could be completed as soon as July. The agreement follows a February 2020 deal between the Taliban and the Trump administration that committed the insurgents to enter peace talks with the Afghan government. However, American efforts to clinch a peace settlement before a full withdrawal have stalled, and bloodshed across the country continues.

The neighborhood of Dasht-e Barchi where Saturday’s bombings occurred is one of Kabul’s most disenfranchised areas. It is populated mostly by the Hazara minority, which historically has been marginalized and oppressed, especially during Taliban rule in the 1990s...

More at that top link.