As a U.S. envoy finalizes a supposed “peace” deal with the Taliban, there is good reason to worry that the deal will hand Afghanistan back to these Islamists.

So here’s one way to judge whether the deal holds promise or peril: Does it betray Afghan women?

If this deal sells out Afghan women, who have made very real progress since the Taliban’s fall nearly two decades ago, it will signal more than a betrayal of past American promises.

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Trudy Rubin | The Philadelphia Inquirer

It will indicate that the Taliban, with the White House turning a blind eye, are bent on restoring their previous brand of harsh Islamic rule. Down that road lies a new Afghan civil war, and a possible return of the new variants of ISIS and al-Qaeda.

In other words, like the proverbial canary in the coal mine, any sellout of Afghan women means U.S. security needs are being sold out as well.

To understand why, you need only listen to the warnings of Fawzia Koofi, a deputy speaker of the Afghan parliament and one of the country’s many amazing female success stories. I spoke with her by phone to Kabul on Friday morning.

Born in the remote Afghan province of Badakhshan, the 19th of her father’s 23 children, she was put outside to die because she was female, but was rescued by her strong, illiterate mother.

The only girl in her family to get an education, she was elected to parliament from Badakhshan after the Taliban were overthrown. (I visited her and her two daughters at her Kabul home in 2011; one daughter now studies at Montclair State University in New Jersey.)

Koofi has become a spokeswoman for women’s rights and she is determined to protect them. But she fears that the vital concerns of the Afghan people, including women, are being left out of this peace process. And if these interests are ignored, she told me, “this creates the environment for all-out civil war.”

So far, the U.S.-Taliban talks have excluded representatives of the elected Afghan government because the Taliban refuse to recognize its legitimacy.

The terms of the draft peace accord supposedly call for the Taliban to start intra-Afghan talks, but it is still unclear whom they will talk to, or under what terms.

The signs are ominous. The Taliban team call themselves the Islamic Emirate, which indicates they still believe they are ruling the country. Indeed, they reject the very concept of an Islamic Republic of Afghanistan — the current name of the country — because a republic means Afghans can elect representatives to a parliament.

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An emirate, on the other hand, means an Islamic state, and the Taliban hope they can reinstate one. Clearly they are aware of how publicly eager President Donald Trump is to quit Afghanistan, which encourages them to hold firm.

Koofi’s personal experience provides little optimism that the Taliban are willing to be inclusive in the future.

She participated in three informal Afghan meetings with Taliban officials in Moscow and Qatar. “They pretend to change,” she says, “but we have to watch carefully. I tried to tell them you can’t take Afghanistan back to when they were ruling. But they use words that make us worry.”

For example, when she pressed them on female education, they said “according to Islam,” which could mean religious education only. When she asked for clarification, they said only that there could be no co-education, which is already the case in Afghanistan through high school. But at college level, she says, “we haven’t enough teachers for separate education.”

The Taliban were similarly vague when it came to the rights of women to work. Koofi asked them, “Will you respect international human rights principles?” Their response: “Such rights contradict Islam.”

If the Taliban refuse to negotiate with representatives of the Afghan republic — along with representatives of wider civil society, including women — Koofi fears a new civil war may be looming.

Here is where the terms of the prospective U.S.-Taliban document really become key.

As reported, the deal focuses mainly on the Taliban’s demand that all U.S. forces leave Afghanistan, in return for Taliban guarantees that they will not permit a renewed al-Qaeda or ISIS to take root in the country.

Intra-Afghan talks are supposed to begin before a complete withdrawal of 14,000 troops. But without the pressure of a U.S. troop presence, these talks are unlikely to advance.

So the key question is the timeline for U.S. withdrawal, and whether it will be based on President Trump’s desire for all U.S. troops to exit before the 2020 elections. The president has waffled, most recently saying that some troops will remain, but he has reportedly told aides that he wants them all out soon.

“If the international community leaves,” says Koofi, “there are no guarantees.”

It is not just women’s rights that are threatened. “My concern is that terrorist networks will start operating again,” she argues.

In other words, the fate of Afghan women and U.S. security needs are bound together and depend on the terms of this peace document. We will know the outcome soon.

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Trudy Rubin is a columnist and editorial-board member for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Readers may write to her at: Philadelphia Inquirer, P.O. Box 8263, Philadelphia, Pa. 19101, or by email at trubin@phillynews.com.


(25) comments


The remarks were on a video where Ford’s attorney admitted the reason for charges against Kavanagh and it had little to do with what she claimed and the fact not a shred of evidence was produced, nothing. She was proven to be what most knew she was a liar willing to do whatever it took to keep Kavanagh off the court. Her claims were a lie from the get go with absolutely no credibility.


[offtopic] get with the program fox news newt. I am sure fox news has a site you can comment on. Plenty of degenerates are there to keep you company.


I leave and you miss what is really happening andI know it hurts but it was so obvious you are uninformed on so many issues. I manage to keep you informed on what is not being reported, without me, your a lost soul. What’s the point of listening to a cult, you learn nothing.


Gosh, new2, I really, really hesitate to say this to a man who claims to have held the exalted position that you have -- crack HR man for a Fortune 300 company -- but, ahem, if you say you have the goods, you have to deliver the goods. If your company claimed to have had the goods and didn't deliver them, they would have soon been an Unfortunate Zeroed Out company. You claim to have access to a video proving what you are alleging, but you are not delivering it. It hardly helps your case to tell me that I am a lost soul who lacks this information. Are you simply running with some information some cultish right-wing propaganda website told you it had on video without showing it to you? It would appear so. Show me now, that you are truly "in the know" by providing a link to this video.


Perhaps you could direct the rest of us (but not for crank, as I am not allowed to speak for him) to a link that would bear out what you are saying in your 1:48pm post, new2? No?


Sure I can, the video was from Debra Katz Ford’s attorney at the University of Baltimore to a woman’s group. She admits hat Ford had done and tries to justify the false charges by saying it did less harm than having Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court. I guess, this clearly means the result does justify the means. I’m surprised this was not reported on any of your competent news sources. You seem to be saying somehow the Washington Examiner reported it, so it can’t be true. Maybe you could explain how they fabricated this video at the University of Baltimore. How do you miss these things and continue making comments as if you are well informed on issues. You probably didn’t see the Harry Reid video either, the one where he admits he lied about Romney’s not paying any taxes, he states, “he didn’t win did he”. Sounded to me like he thought he had a good reason to lie.


new2, perhaps you should move your lips when reading to improve your comprehension. You have already described what you believe to be in this alleged tape. I would like to hear the tape. You say it exists. If it exists, it is most certainly a celebrated blessing of Trump, the Republican Party and Justice Kavanaugh, who must have seen to it to saturate the recording all over social media and the news media, proving the point they are so desperate to prove. So it MUST be a very easy link to find and supply to anybody who asks for it. I am asking for it, new2. You are advertising it. Deliver it please. Or admit you only are operating on what you are told exists, and that you do not actually know that it does, nor have you heard it. You can do that for me and others here who are curious about this, can't you, new2?


So you expect us to believe that Dr. Ford's attorney showed a video to a Women's group that proved that her client lied to congress and the American people? Have you never heard of lawyer client confidentiality? You also expect us to believe that this outrageous thing was covered up by the American media? I tried to find evidence of this video on the Washington Examiner, a right wing tabloid, but was unable to do so. You are an idiot to pass on this obvious falsehood. Good grief! You must have been dropped on your head as a baby, or maybe this is the type of stupidity one gets with a diet of Fox News 24 hours a day.


Apparently new2 cannot deliver the goods and cannot admit that he is wrong. Sounds like a certain president whom new2 esteems greatly. Is anybody surprised?

Da Bears

According to the Washington Examiner, and noted in Lovelace's book, Katz said:

“In the aftermath of these hearings, I believe that Christine’s testimony brought about more good than the harm misogynist Republicans caused by allowing Kavanaugh on the court. We were going to have a conservative [justice] ... elections have consequences, but he will always have an asterisk next to his name. When he takes a scalpel to Roe v. Wade, we will know who he is, we know his character, and we know what motivates him, and that is important; it is important that we know, and that is part of what motivated Christine.”


Newsweek has a video clip of Katz's speech.



Yes, Da Bears, you have accurately quoted Blasey Ford's attorney who spoke at the University of Baltimore. Mr. Lovelace says the quote proves that Blasey Ford and other feminists concocted an elaborate scheme to destroy Kavanaugh's chances for gaining Senate approval for his justice appointment. This is the only quote provided -- not from Blasey Ford, but her attorney -- and it has no suggestion of any sort of a feminist cabal planning Blasey Ford's testimony. Nor does it dispute anything that Blasey Ford said why she brought the testimony to the Senate committee hearing. She said from the outset she did not feel Kavanaugh had the requisite character to be a Supreme Court justice, and she laid out her reasons for it. Tell us how the quote you provide proves otherwise. Please, crank.


Wait a minute Trudy, why worry about the Afghan women? What about the American women killed and raped by illegal immigrants? But you don’t want to stop those people from invading us.

What about the American women killed by terrorists? They was probably around 1500 in the twin tower attack alone. But you don’t want a hold on Muslims coming here from terrorist sponsoring nations.

Your concern rings hollow, we know, it’s TDS. Why not protect OUR women first, very easy to do, build the wall, do away with sanctuary cities, no Muslims allowed from terrorist nations. Let’s do what’s right for our own first, before being the conscious of the world.


someone is completely off his meds again. Keep the hate flowing hoaxer dude. Those terrorists you mention in the twin towers came from many countries not on the ban list. their training ground was in Afghanistan when the Taliban ruled it. Your lovely president wants to negotiate with that terrorists organization. Does that make you feel safer? Having the Taliban back in power give you a warm feeling all over? That is what Trump wants, and that is what will happen if he gets his way.


Donald Trump, who fashions himself as an anti-Islamist hard-liner, is playing kissy face with one of the most evil Islamic extremist groups on Earth, who will now merrily murder thousands of people who put their faith in America's promise that we would not abandon them. Trump really knows how to build bridges to nowhere.


The Taliban is a terrorists organization just like ISIS or white nationalist. Why are we negotiating with terrorists? Afghanistan will become a breeding ground of international terrorists again if we let the Taliban take over that country again. Has Trump forgot that already? He would sell out his own mother if it would benefit him politically. And that is what Trump is looking for. Some kind of treaty where he can claim victory, bring all the troops home, and hope it gets him reelected.


Sounds like your on top of things, not to worry. Hillary sold our uranium to Russia, wonder what she was thinking not to mention the 145 million received from foreign investors and it went where again.


Good Lord, new2! You have said some stupid things, but to come back on martian with a long-dismissed accusation at Hillary Clinton -- which is light years and galaxies away from the discussion topic here -- is amazing. Your idiocies are legend.


I guess I should have used Christine Blakey Ford as a model of the Democrats, I just heard her attorney admitted the reason she went after Kavanagh was because of what she thought of his stand on Roe vs Wade. Anyone willing to do what she did to this guy should spend time in prison along with Hillary Clinton for her deeds. Trump seems quite ethical by comparison. How did this sound to you. This is light years away but how would you ever hear of these things.

Rick Czeczok

Long dismissed? We will see once the reports comes out. You may eat crow on that comment.... I see your best defense is still attacking and name calling. What I get a kick on is you call others out if they do the same exact thing. Socialists are such hypocrites. Just look at how AOC votes vs, what she tweets. They just have a real hard time remembering all the stupid things they say and do. Sound familiar dummy. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA you crack me up and make me sick all at the same time. Come on Martin defend him now, so obvious they are one in the same.....


I guess you should look at who the author of these charges against Blasey Ford, new2, Ryan Lovelace, the legal reporter for the Washington Examiner, the print equivalent of Fox News. In other words, it is a right-wing propaganda sheet whose reports are regularly thoroughly disproven as false and fraudulent accounts.


OOOHHH! I have been called out again by Ricky. If I have to eat crow, dear boy, I will do so publicly on these boards, admitting I am wrong. You have been proven wrong so many times that you have killed more crows than West Nile Virus. Have you ever eaten one? Not to my knowledge. The rest of your 1:13pm post is indecipherable, running so far afield from the discussion that it is impossible to follow where you are going. Typical of you, Ricky, a man without a compass, particularly a moral one.


fox news newt is just desperate to defend trump so he has to do a whataboutism again. Shows lack of intelligence and thought. His god trump is not to be messed with.

Rick Czeczok

Yup it has been a week so Martian will use my material back at people using the god term. Get your own material, your like a third grader on a playground who can't think of a comeback so he repeats what was said back at the other kid. Childish as usual. but then again he is a "Socialist activist". In his eyes AOC makes great sense.


I would love to respond there ricky boy/fake veteran but I simply can't comprehend what you wrote. Either its so complicated and well thought out I can't grasp its meaning, or its just first grade gibberish and gobilty pooh. Notice I knocked you down two grades ricky boy, that's got to hurt!


what, your term. You don't have a term except HAHA. And that I don't use it. That is about the extent of your intelligence and no one is lining up to copy it. First grade tactics belong to first graders, a group you obviously identify with.

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