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Taliban fighters hold Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan flags on the first anniversary of the fall of Kabul.

REUTERS/Ali Khara

Jihadists, liberators, or administrators of Afghanistan? The Taliban respond.

The Taliban celebrated the anniversary of their return to power in Afghanistan last week.

They assembled at Bagram airbase, the last military outpost of the 20-year American occupation. Flags were hoisted, leftover US military equipment was displayed, and Taliban soldiers wore uniforms shed by fleeing forces loyal to the former government. Speeches were made, and the Quran was recited.

But not much was said about the continued suppression of women, the escalating violence, or the near-universal poverty Afghans find themselves in today.

So, where does the regime stand, and why should the international community trust the Taliban despite this dismal record? We interviewed Suhail Shaheen, the group's international spokesperson and head of its political office in Qatar. (He’s technically also the UN ambassador, but the world body doesn't recognize the Taliban as the legitimate Afghan government.)

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Luisa Vieira

The Graphic Truth: How do the Taliban keep the lights on?

Diplomatically isolated and cut off from foreign aid, the Taliban have struggled to find enough cash to keep the government running since the group took over Afghanistan in Aug. 2021. But they've proven surprisingly adept at raising money from the now-banned opium trade, selling coal to neighboring countries, and taxing imports at the border. Still, this is nowhere near enough to cover their annual budget, and an estimated 97% of Afghans could be living below the poverty line by the end of this year. Here's a snapshot of the Taliban's main sources of revenue.

Taliban Regime Has Been “Death in Slow Motion” for Afghan Women | GZERO World

Taliban regime has been “death in slow motion” for Afghan women

Fawzia Koofi was a member of Afghan Parliament from 2005 until last year, when the Taliban swept back to power.

On GZERO World, Koofi describes her experience working as one of the only female voices at the table during the negotiations with the Taliban.

In the room, they promised Koofi that women would play an active role in Afghan society. They even hinted at an inclusive government.

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Sonia Niazi, a female anchor on Afghanistan's privately-run TOLO news channel.

Yaghobzadeh Alfred/ABACA via Reuters Connect

Meet the suppressed press of Taliban-run Afghanistan

Afghanistan’s media landscape has been transformed in year one of the Taliban’s return to power.

The country’s once-vibrant media scene was a crucial pillar of civil society during the two decades of US occupation, part of Washington’s nation-building efforts. But after the American withdrawal, and under the regulations and coercion of the Taliban, Afghan journalism is struggling — as is the health of transparency and accountability in the nation.

Still, the state of the Afghan free media may be down, but not out.

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Paige Fusco

The Graphic Truth: Terror outfits based in Afghanistan

Even though the Taliban “control” Afghanistan, several militant groups still operate in the war-torn country. That's underscored by the recent killing of al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri in downtown Kabul, although not all outfits present in Afghanistan are affiliated with the Taliban. We list some of the major militant organizations working out of the country, with regional and global ambitions.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan meets with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in Lviv, Ukraine.

Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Turkish Presidential Press Office via Reuters

What We're Watching: Erdogan's diplomacy, carnage at Kabul mosque, US-Taiwan trade talks

Erdogan is everywhere

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been very busy this week. On Thursday, he flew to Lviv to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and UN Secretary-General António Guterres, the Turkish president’s first visit to Ukraine since Russia’s war began six months ago. Erdogan, who has tried to position himself as an elder statesman and mediator between Kyiv and Moscow, vowed to help rebuild Ukrainian infrastructure just weeks after brokering a deal with Russia to resume Ukrainian grain exports from Black Sea ports amid a global food crisis. The trio also discussed efforts to secure a contested nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine. This comes a week after Erdogan held a face-to-face with Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia, where they pledged to boost energy cooperation. What’s more, Erdogan’s Ukraine trip came just one day after Ankara announced it was restoring full diplomatic ties with Israel. Indeed, Erdogan is looking to get wins wherever he can as he tries to divert attention from Ankara’s deepening economic woes. In a move that made many economists shudder, Turkey’s central bank on Thursday further slashed interest rates to 13% despite the fact that inflation has topped a whopping 80%. Loosening monetary policy to boost growth has long been Erdogan’s shtick, but as a cost of living crisis continues to hurt Turks, his ruling party is falling in the polls less than a year out from elections.

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The Graphic Truth: What Afghan women lost

For years, Afghanistan has ranked as one of the world’s worst places to be a woman. But over the past two decades — with the Taliban out of power and a US-backed government calling the shots — things had started to improve. Literacy rates for girls went up, and women were allowed to pursue higher education and more career opportunities — including serving in parliament. In many parts of the country, they also had greater autonomy to travel independently. But that’s all changed since the Taliban returned to power one year ago amid the US’ chaotic withdrawal. Afghan women and girls, many of whom weren’t alive when the Taliban last ruled, are now watching their hard-fought freedoms disappear.

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