Mount Kabul turmoil contradicts pro-Taliban rhetoric


A man holds a wireless microphone as he speaks on the street in Kabul, Afghanistan, in this image from a social media video uploaded on August 16, 2021 – Reuters.
  • “Security is good, there are no thieves, we are very happy,” said a citizen interviewing a pro-Taliban content producer.
  • The message stands in stark contrast to the chaos that has reigned in parts of Kabul since the group arrived last Sunday.
  • Social media feeds have called into question the Taliban’s promises to establish peace.

KABUL: Afghanistan television crews Studio Al-Emarah, which produces pro-Taliban content, has taken to the streets of Kabul in recent days, speaking to citizens, with reassuring messages about returning to normal life.

“How confident are you? Asked an interviewer with a microphone from Al-Emarah in the city center.

“100%” was the answer.

“The security is good, there are no thieves, we are very happy,” added the respondent.

The message contrasts sharply with the chaos that has reigned in parts of Kabul since the group surged last Sunday after a lightning conquest of Afghanistan.

Thousands of people have gathered around the airport, desperate to escape for fear of retaliation from the Taliban now that they are back in power.

It presented one of the most difficult tests to date for the movement’s communications strategy, which has grown into a sophisticated operation in recent years and yet struggles to quell widespread panic.

The Al-Emarah the talks were just a small step towards regaining control of the message.

For the time being, Al-Emarah The websites in five different languages ​​have been difficult to access or seemingly offline since Friday, for reasons that remain unclear. The clips could however be seen on social media accounts.

On Saturday, several Taliban spokespersons visited television studios to reassure residents that the streets were safe. On the same day, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the top political leader of the Taliban in Afghanistan, arrived in Kabul to set up a police force.

‘These are all lies’

Getting their message across has proven more difficult since the Taliban conquered Afghanistan than when they fought an insurgency against local foreign and US-backed armed forces.

Over the years, he has often been one step ahead of government, getting his message across with a mix of responsive and well-prepared multilingual social media accounts, videos, photos and spokespersons, equipped with responses. ready for questions from journalists.

While Facebook and YouTube have banned the group, it has an active presence on Twitter and dozens of social media accounts directly linked to the movement or close to its post have sprung up.

Many Afghans treated these messages with contempt. The group has been blamed for thousands of civilian deaths in gun and suicide bombings over the past 20 years, deaths which it said were justified in its war on the dead. invaders.

And with growing unrest in Kabul and other cities, the movement can no longer fall back on accusations of abuse and wrongdoing by the Kabul government and its international allies.

The Taliban have tried to reassure both the Afghans and the international community that they will respect people’s rights and that their forces will not take revenge on members of the government and security forces.

Taliban support women’s rights and free media under Islamic law (spokesperson)

The press conference held on Tuesday by the main spokesperson for the Taliban, Zabihullah Mujahid, for the first time put a public face to the movement’s communication operation.

But social media of beatings or shaking videos of people being dragged out of cars and homes have called into question the Taliban’s narrative, sowing fear among a population still reeling from the sudden collapse of the government.

Many accounts of abuse cannot be verified, but Taliban officials acknowledge the widespread fears.

A senior official said Reuters he had heard of some abuses against civilians but promised that any problems caused by members of the movement would be investigated.

In a tweet on Saturday, Mujahid said the Taliban was setting up a three-member commission to deal with issues faced by the media.

With smartphones as prevalent in Kabul as anywhere else in the world and a young population that has grown up with the internet, the Taliban’s communications strategy will likely continue to evolve.

But unless they can restore order to the streets and get people back to work, messages alone are unlikely to be enough.

“I don’t believe what they say at all, they are just lies. Nobody trusts what they say,” said a resident of Kabul, who did not want to be named for fear of reprisals.

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