The Latest: Taliban cleric to rule on Herat women’s rights

Aug 13, 2021, 8:25 PM | Updated: Aug 14, 2021, 2:53 pm
The U.S. Embassy buildings, center, are seen in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. The la...

The U.S. Embassy buildings, center, are seen in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. The last-minute decision to send 3,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan to help partially evacuate the U.S. Embassy is calling into question whether President Joe Biden will meet his Aug. 31, deadline for fully withdrawing combat forces. The vanguard of a Marine contingent arrived in Kabul on Friday and most of the rest of the 3,000 are due by Sunday. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

(AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

              The U.S. Embassy buildings, center, are seen in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. The last-minute decision to send 3,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan to help partially evacuate the U.S. Embassy is calling into question whether President Joe Biden will meet his Aug. 31, deadline for fully withdrawing combat forces. The vanguard of a Marine contingent arrived in Kabul on Friday and most of the rest of the 3,000 are due by Sunday. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
            
              Taliban fighters sit on the back of a vehicle in the city of Herat, west of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, after they took this province from Afghan government. The Taliban seized two more provinces and approached the outskirts of Afghanistan’s capital. (AP Photo/Hamed Sarfarazi)
            
              Members of the Taliban drive through the city of Herat, Afghanistan, west of Kabul, on Saturday, Aug. 14.2021, after taking the province from the Afghan government. (AP Photo/Hamed Sarfarazi
            
              FILE - In this Jan. 28, 2012 file photo, U.S. soldiers, part of the NATO- led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) patrol west of Kabul, Afghanistan. As the United States ends the nearly 20-year war in Afghanistan and as the Taliban recapture much of the country, Americans are asking if the longest war in their history was worth the cost. (AP Photo/Hoshang Hashimi, File)
            
              A boy sells Taliban flags in Herat province, west of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Hamed Sarfarazi)
            
              A Taliban flag flies from the clocktower of the Herat provincial official office, in Herat, Afghanistan, west of Kabul, on Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Hamed Sarfarazi)
            
              Members of the Taliban, left, drive with other motorists through city of Herat, Afghanistan, west of Kabul, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, after the province was taken from the Afghan government. (AP Photo/Hamed Sarfarazi)
            
              The U.S. Embassy buildings, center, are seen in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. The last-minute decision to send 3,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan to help partially evacuate the U.S. Embassy is calling into question whether President Joe Biden will meet his Aug. 31, deadline for fully withdrawing combat forces. The vanguard of a Marine contingent arrived in Kabul on Friday and most of the rest of the 3,000 are due by Sunday. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
            
              Taliban fighters sit on the back of a vehicle in the city of Herat, west of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, after they took this province from Afghan government. The Taliban seized two more provinces and approached the outskirts of Afghanistan’s capital. (AP Photo/Hamed Sarfarazi)
            
              Members of the Taliban drive through the city of Herat, Afghanistan, west of Kabul, on Saturday, Aug. 14.2021, after taking the province from the Afghan government. (AP Photo/Hamed Sarfarazi
            
              FILE - In this Jan. 28, 2012 file photo, U.S. soldiers, part of the NATO- led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) patrol west of Kabul, Afghanistan. As the United States ends the nearly 20-year war in Afghanistan and as the Taliban recapture much of the country, Americans are asking if the longest war in their history was worth the cost. (AP Photo/Hoshang Hashimi, File)
            
              A boy sells Taliban flags in Herat province, west of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Hamed Sarfarazi)
            
              A Taliban flag flies from the clocktower of the Herat provincial official office, in Herat, Afghanistan, west of Kabul, on Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Hamed Sarfarazi)
            
              A Taliban flag flies from the clocktower of the Herat provincial official office, in Herat, Afghanistan, west of Kabul, on Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Hamed Sarfarazi)
            
              Passengers walk to the departures terminal of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. As a Taliban offensive encircles the Afghan capital, there's increasingly only one way out for those fleeing the war, and only one way in for U.S. troops sent to protect American diplomats still on the ground: the airport. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

The Latest developments on Afghanistan, where a weeklong Taliban offensive is now approaching the outskirts of the capital, Kabul, after the insurgents captured most of the north, west and south of the country, just weeks ahead of the final pullout of all U.S. and NATO troops:

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KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban have appointed a hard-line cleric as the women’s affairs minister in Herat, a province they captured earlier in the week in their blitz across Afghanistan.

The development indicates Taliban intentions to install Islamic rule, or Sharia, in the part of Afghanistan under their control. The Taliban offensive has been unstoppable and they are now approaching the country’s capital, Kabul.

A prominent women’s activist told The Associated Press that the insurgents named Mujeeb Rahman Ansari to the post on Saturday. The activist, who declined to be identified by her name for fear for her safety, spoke from Kabul.

She described Ansari as an extremist cleric who had some following in western Herat.

She said he was “strongly against women’s rights” after rising to prominence around 2015. The activist says Ansari became infamous for the dozens of billboards he installed all over Herat province demonizing those who would promote women’s rights. His billboards told women to wear the Islamic headscarf, or hijab.

–Kathy Gannon in Guelph, Canada.

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MORE ON THE CRISIS IN AFGHANISTAN:

— Taliban approach Kabul’s outskirts, attack north Afghan city

— As Taliban tighten their grip, Kabul airport only way out

— Longest war: Were America’s decades in Afghanistan worth it?

— More Marines arrive in Kabul to aid urgent embassy airlift

— Costs of the Afghanistan war, in lives and dollars

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have held a secure video conference on Saturday morning with national security officials in response to the worsening situation in Afghanistan.

A White House official says they discussed efforts to reduce the number of U.S. civilians in Afghanistan, evacuate Afghans who worked with the U.S. government and the fast-moving changes on the ground. The official insisted on anonymity to discuss private conversations.

The discussions came as a fresh contingent of Marines arrived in the Afghan capital on Saturday as part of a 3,000-troop force intended to secure an airlift of U.S. Embassy personnel and Afghan allies as Taliban insurgents approach the outskirts of the capital.

The last-minute decision to re-insert thousands of U.S. troops into Afghanistan reflects the dire state of security and calls into question whether Biden will meet his Aug. 31 deadline for fully withdrawing combat forces.

–Joshua Boak in Washington;

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PRAGUE — Czech Republic’s Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhanek says he has decided to immediately evacuate Czech diplomats from the Czech Embassy in the capital of Afghanistan to Kabul’s international airport.

Kulhanek says the decision was based on information from the allies and the Czech ambassador.

Czech leaders will meet later on Saturday to discuss what to do next due to the serious situation in Afghanistan where a Taliban offensive has now encircled Kabul.

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BERLIN — The Green party’s candidate to succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor in next month’s election has accused Germany’s government of abandoning Afghans who worked for the German army.

Annalena Baerbock said during a campaign event in Hannover on Saturday, that “many people in Afghanistan did everything they could to support the Bundeswehr mission as interpreters, by building infrastructure or as drivers.”

“It’s really disastrous that these people have been abandoned in recent days,” she said, calling for those Afghan workers now fearing for their lives to be rescued.

Germany’s foreign minister announced on Friday that his country is preparing charter flights to bring German diplomats and local staff out of Afghanistan.

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ROME — Italy is preparing for the possible evacuation of its embassy employees as the Taliban continue its advance, pushing closer to the Afghan capital of Kabul.

“If it is necessary, we will quickly bring everyone to safety in Italy, with the important help of the Defense Ministry,” Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio told Corriere della Sera in an interview published Saturday.

In that case, he said that funds that so far have been used to secure Afghan operations could be redirected to provide protection to Afghans who have worked with Italian military and civilian officials there.

Di Maio acknowledged the specter of increased migration ahead of the Taliban’s advance, as well as “the risk of terrorist infiltration.” He said the threat needed to be managed by working with other countries to control flows.

Italy formally withdrew its troops from Afghanistan in June.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

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The Latest: Taliban cleric to rule on Herat women’s rights