Monday, August 16, 2021


Here's a headline on the front page of the New York Times site:

Here's a tweet promoting the story from a Times reporter:

What does "instilling terror" lead you to expect? Beheadings? Public floggings? Gang rapes by Taliban soldiers? Arrestees sent to torture prisons?

I won't be surprised if all that happens. But for now, here's what's happening, according to the story:
It was his first day as the Taliban-appointed mayor of Kunduz, and Gul Mohammad Elias was on a charm offensive.

Last Sunday, the insurgents seized control of the city in northern Afghanistan, which was in shambles after weeks of fighting. Power lines were down. The water supply, powered by generators, did not reach most residents. Trash and rubble littered the streets.

The civil servants who could fix those problems were hiding at home, terrified of the Taliban. So the insurgent-commander-turned-mayor summoned some to his new office, to persuade them to return to work.

“I said that our jihad is not with the municipality, our jihad is against the occupiers and those who defend the occupiers,” Mr. Elias told The New York Times by telephone.

But day by day, as municipal offices stayed mostly empty, Mr. Elias grew more frustrated — and his rhetoric grew harsher.

Taliban fighters began going door to door, searching for absentee city workers. Hundreds of armed men set up checkpoints across the city. At the entrance to the regional hospital, a new notice appeared on the wall: Employees must return to work or face punishment from the Taliban.
Harsh rhetoric. Threats. But no reports of brutality yet.
Three days after the Taliban took control in Kunduz, Atiqullah Omarkhil, a civil servant, received a call from an insurgent fighter telling him to go to his office. The mayor of Kunduz wanted to speak with him, he said....

Inside the building, Mr. Omarkhil joined eight municipal employees and Mr. Elias, the Taliban commander, who introduced himself as the new mayor.

A young man with a long beard, Mr. Elias assured them they would not be targeted by the Taliban and instructed them to return to work, to improve people’s morale. Sharing his mobile number, he told them to call if they had any trouble from Taliban fighters.

“We have captured the city, and now we can assure the people that we will provide basic services,” Mr. Omarkhil, who was interviewed by telephone, quoted Mr. Elias as saying.

Halfway through the meeting, a shopkeeper pleaded with a Taliban bodyguard to see the mayor. Like hundreds of others, his kiosk had been mostly destroyed by fire during the Taliban’s final push. He said shopkeepers, fearing that what remained of their stores would be looted, wanted the Taliban’s promise that they could return to the market to collect their things safely, Mr. Omarkhil said.

The mayor complied, even providing reimbursement for the taxi and bus fare they spent on moving their goods, according to Mr. Omarkhil.
Is Mr. Omarkhil telling the whole truth? Is there more he's afraid to say? I have no idea. But there's no reported brutality of the kind implied by the phrase "instilling terror."

This is low-rent clickbait. The Times has clearly concluded that it's time to shake off the post-Iraq syndrome and cheerlead for interventionism again.

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