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Violence erupts in Afghan city as Taliban fire on protesters for replacing group's flag

Violence erupts in Afghan city as Taliban fire on protesters
for replacing group's flag 1
British Chief of Defence Staff Nick Carter is pictured outside the Ministry of Defence headquarters in London, in November 2020. Stefan Rousseau/PA Images/Getty Images

The British Chief of Defence Staff Nick Carter says he thinks the Taliban have changed and says the West needs to give them space.

“I do think that they have changed,” Carter said in an interview with Sky News on Wednesday morning. “I think they recognize that over the course of the last 20 years, Afghanistan has evolved, they recognize the fundamental role that women have played in that evolution and yes, at the moment they will undoubtedly say they want to respect women’s rights under Islamic law.”

“That doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t allow them to be involved in government and in education and in medicine and those things they need them to be involved in,” he added. 

Since reclaiming Kabul on Sunday, the Taliban have repeatedly said the gains of women over the last two decades will be protected as they take over. Despite the group’s promises, it is clear that many Afghan women are fearful that they will once again be treated as “lower class” and forced to live under the Taliban’s strict interpretation of Islamic law.

Previously under Taliban rule, women had to wear head-to-toe coverings, weren’t allowed to study or work and were forbidden from traveling alone. TV, music and non-Islamic holidays were also banned.

CNN teams in Kabul have observed a significant drop in the number of women on the streets since the Taliban takeover, in comparison to a few days ago. Those who do venture out are dressing more conservatively, some with their faces covered with niqabs, or veils. Burqas had become a less common sight in Kabul over the past two decades, but the news that the Taliban is once again in charge has sparked an increase in sales, shopkeepers have told CNN.

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In the interview, Gen. Carter went on to refer to the Taliban as a group of “country boys” who were bound by a “code of honor.”

“I think we have to be patient, we have to give them the space to show how they are going to step up to the plate,” he said. “Whether or not we can work with them will very much depend on how they treat all Afghans.”

“All I’m saying is, let’s see how this evolves because we may well be surprised by it,” he also said. “Yes, we should do it very carefully, yes we should be fundamentally suspicious because we know where they came from.”

His remarks were echoed by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was debating the situation in Afghanistan in the UK House of Commons on Wednesday. Johnson told Parliament, “We must face the reality of a change of regime in Afghanistan.”

Johnson said it would be a mistake “to recognize any new regime in Kabul prematurely or bilaterally” before adding, “we will judge this regime based on the choices it makes and by its actions rather than by its words.”

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