EU’s Borrell Urges Afghan Civil Society To Utilize Differences Between Taliban Leadership & End ‘Gender Apartheid’


Guess what? The European Union’s (EU) Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said that the civil society of Afghanistan and its people should unite and pressurize the Taliban government by utilising the existing difference among the Taliban leadership.


Go deeper:

  • Senior Taliban leadership does not agree with their Supreme Leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada’s latest decisions restricting women and girls from education and work and many of them have spoken out against them.
  • The high-ranking EU official said, “Taliban senior leadership do not agree with the Supreme leader’s ideas on key matters, because they know that the implementation of such decrees would further isolate the country and cause new problems for the ruling regime. We have to utilize the intergroup differences.”
  • Borrell criticized the Taliban leadership in a biting tone in front of reports. “The Taliban Supreme leader believes that girls do not deserve to live as human beings in the world. Girls love to attend school and learn,” he said.
  • He further added, “we cannot cut off the cash aid to Afghanistan, aimed at meeting the basic requirements, because we do not want to punish the ordinary people of Afghanistan. However, the point is how to punish Afghanistan’s ruling regime, which would not affect the Afghan populace. Maintaining a balance between the two is difficult.”
  • He added that in Afghanistan we will not tolerate the “gender apartheid” that the Taliban regime is installing. “We will not continue doing business as usual with the [de facto] Afghan government, but we cannot abandon the Afghan women to be punished twice – first, by the Taliban’s decision and then, second, by us cutting development support,” he added.


Back story: After seizing power in Kabul on August 15, 2021, the Taliban has closed the gates of schools for girls above sixth grade and even university education for them. The group has repeatedly said that they are working on the reopening of girls’ schools, but after nearly a year and a half, there is no further news of this plan.

  • They have banned girls from middle school and high school, restricted women from most employment and ordered them to wear head-to-toe clothing in public. Women are also banned from parks and gyms.


Zoom out: Taliban’s verdicts against women have intensified the differences among the Taliban leadership, and each group is trying to mobilize its supporters. The source said that Mullah Yaqoob, Defense Minister, and Sirajuddin Haqqani, the Interior Minister oppose the decisions of the group’s leader.

  • However, some in the Taliban leadership, including Abbas Stanikzai, the Deputy Foreign Minister has rejected the inter-group issues among the Taliban senior leaders, and has said that they willingly accept the Supreme leader’s orders.
  • These rifts are becoming a sore point for the Taliban which leaders of opposing factions now making public statements for the world to see the internal differences.
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