Communities built on social media are valuable fundraising tools for the Taliban and crucial to recruitment, according to politics academic Weeda Mehran, who argues in today’s opinion section that they are not just used for spreading propaganda.
Top US spy meets Taliban leader in Kabul
The top US spy, CIA director William Burns, met secretly with the head of the Taliban on Monday in Kabul, in the highest-level diplomatic encounter since the militant group took over.
According to a report in the Washington Post, unnamed US officials said Burns met the Taliban leader, Abdul Ghani Baradar, as the Biden administration continued efforts to evacuate US citizens and other allies amid chaos at the airport in Kabul.
While the CIA declined to comment on the Taliban meeting, the report speculated that the likely subject of discussion was the impending 31 August deadline for the US military to conclude its airlift.
The meeting took place as the UN’s top human rights official described credible reports of serious human rights violations committed by the Taliban in Afghanistan, including summary executions of civilians, restrictions on women and limitations on protests against their rule.
A Ukrainian minister has claimed a passenger jet meant to evacuate people fleeing Afghanistan to Ukraine was hijacked at gunpoint and flown instead to Iran, in an unconfirmed incident that was later denied by his own government.
A Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesperson later denied the claim, telling the local internet television station, Hromadske, that Yenin was trying to describe the difficulties faced by Ukrainian pilots during the evacuation of Kabul.