Why Afghanistan fears Taliban takeover when US troops leave

Footage of an Afghan woman being lashed 40 times by the Taliban has emerged in a stark reminder of the state of the country as the US withdraws its troops.

The Islamists, emboldened by Joe Biden’s decision to pull troops out of the country, have warned the US and its Nato allies there will be ‘problems’ should they fail to beat a swift retreat in Septmeber.

Video of the woman being lashed for reportedly having a phone call with a man, serves to underline the power which the Taliban still holds over the country despite Washington’s two decades of military intervention and trillions of dollars poured into improving life. 

Dozens of local men watched the whipping as villagers turn to the Taliban to enforce justice, having no faith in the toothless government in Kabul.  

The woman hunches over under her burqa as the vicious punishment is dished out before a crowd of dozens of men in the village of Haftgola, close to the city of Herat

The woman hunches over under her burqa as the vicious punishment is dished out before a crowd of dozens of men in the village of Haftgola, close to the city of Herat

The woman is heard asking for mercy

The woman is heard asking for mercy

The woman hunches over under her burqa as the vicious punishment is dished out before a crowd of dozens of men in the  village of Haftgola, close to the city of Herat. The woman is alleged to have had ‘immoral relations’ with a man by speaking with him on the phone

An elder leads the woman into the circle

An elder leads the woman into the circle

Dozens of local men watch the punishment

Dozens of local men watch the punishment

The woman is led into the circle by one of the Taliban elders (left) before she is lashed as dozens of locals watch on (right)

One man first takes up the whipping before handing over to another who appears to lash the woman harder as she writhes under her burqa, crying out: 'I repent, it's my fault, I messed up.'

One man first takes up the whipping before handing over to another who appears to lash the woman harder as she writhes under her burqa, crying out: 'I repent, it's my fault, I messed up.'

One man first takes up the whipping before handing over to another who appears to lash the woman harder as she writhes under her burqa, crying out: 'I repent, it's my fault, I messed up.'

One man first takes up the whipping before handing over to another who appears to lash the woman harder as she writhes under her burqa, crying out: 'I repent, it's my fault, I messed up.'

One man first takes up the whipping before handing over to another who appears to lash the woman harder as she writhes under her burqa, crying out: ‘I repent, it’s my fault, I messed up.’

Dozens of spectators watch as the woman is beaten, several are seen filming the incident on their smart phones

Dozens of spectators watch as the woman is beaten, several are seen filming the incident on their smart phones

Dozens of spectators watch as the woman is beaten, several are seen filming the incident on their smart phones

The footage shared online shows the accused being led into a circle formed by dozens of male spectators to receive the punishment handed down by three tribal elders. 

One man first takes up the whipping before handing over to another who appears to lash the woman harder as she pleads for mercy.

‘I repent, it’s my fault, I messed up,’ the woman cries as she writhes under her burqa.

The footage emerged on Facebook on April 13 but is thought to date from late last year in the village of Haftgola, outside Herat in Afghanistan‘s northwest, according to France 24.

The smart phone video shows the woman being led into the circle by a man with a white beard, one of the local elders.

It was he, along with two other elders, who acted as the self-proclaimed judges and passed down the sentence for the woman’s ‘immoral relations.’

The young man who spoke to her on the phone was also arrested and was being held in a prison cell at the time the footage was recorded, France 24 reported.

The Taliban court in Obe province meets three times a week, on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, dealing with any complaints of the locals.

Experts say this is the system which is replicated throughout Afghanistan, the result of a failure of government to establish a central judiciary.

Often videos of the capital punishment emerge online as the male spectators film it on their phones and upload it to social media.

Atefa Ghafouri, a women’s rights activist in Herat, told France 24: ‘All of the men who attended the whipping were ordinary citizens, just people who live in the area. Lots of Afghans, especially those in rural regions, support these tribunals. In many parts of Afghanistan, the government has zero presence.

‘There is no court where you can go and file a complaint. And even when there is some kind of court, the judicial proceedings are long and expensive, because you have to pay bribes so that someone actually works on your file.

The incident is believed to have taken place in late 2020 in the village of Haftgola, outside Herat, a city in Afghanistan's northwest

The incident is believed to have taken place in late 2020 in the village of Haftgola, outside Herat, a city in Afghanistan's northwest

The incident is believed to have taken place in late 2020 in the village of Haftgola, outside Herat, a city in Afghanistan’s northwest

‘So, unfortunately, the only alternative is a Taliban court, which also happens to be rapid and free. People turn to these tribunals and find solutions for their conflicts and that builds legitimacy. The Taliban then impose their rules. The first victims of this system are women.’ 

The United States’ nearly two decades of fighting and trillions of dollars spent on Afghanistan has done little put an end to the suffering of women in the country.

The Taliban gain more ground by the day despite the central government in Kabul, which will grow weaker as the final American troops leave the country in September.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has called Joe Biden’s plan ‘reckless’ and ‘a grave mistake. It is retreat in the face of an enemy that has not yet been vanquished and abdication of American leadership.’ 

Others argue that it is the only correct conclusion to a fruitless effort to bring peace to a country which has claimed thousands of American lives, as well as those of their allies in Nato including British troops. 

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