State Dept. official deletes tweet about concern for Afghan women

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Afghan women wait to receive free wheat donated by the Afghan government during a quarantine, amid concerns about the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Kabul, Afghanistan April 21, 2020.

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A senior Biden State Department official has deleted a tweet expressing concern for Afghan women who “stand to lose everything” — as reports emerge the Taliban is forcing women out of banking jobs amid the withdrawal of US troops.

Molly Montgomery, the deputy assistant secretary of state in the bureau of European and Eurasian affairs, deleted the tweet on Friday, according to Axios’ Jonathan Swan.  

“Woke up with a heavy heart, thinking about all the Afghan women and girls I worked with during my time in Kabul,” Montgomery said in the deleted tweet.

“They were the beneficiaries of many of the gains we made, and now they stand to lose everything. We empowered them to lead, and now we are powerless to protect them.”

The Biden administration is facing mounting criticism over its tactics in Afghanistan as Taliban insurgents continue their lightning offensive to take over the country.

The Taliban is reportedly forcing women out of banking jobs amid the withdrawal of US troops.
REUTERS

The State Department has not commented on whether Montgomery was told to delete the tweet.

Montgomery’s tweet was removed as reports emerge of Afghan women being forcibly removed from their banking jobs by insurgents — sparking concerns that the long fight for women’s rights in the country could be reversed if the Taliban takes control.

Under Taliban rule, women were not allowed to work and had to be accompanied by a male relative if they left home.

At least nine women were escorted out by armed Taliban insurgents who stormed the offices of Azizi Bank — Afghanistan’s largest commercial bank — in the southern city of Kandahar last month.

The women were ordered to return home and told they could send male relatives to replace them, the bank manager and three of the females told Reuters.

“I taught myself English and even learned how to operate a computer, but now I will have to look for a place where I can just work with more women around,” Noor Khatera, a 43-year-old woman who had worked in the bank’s accounts department, said.

“It’s really strange to not be allowed to get to work, but now this is what it is.”

A similar scene played out just days later at Afghani lender Bank Milli in the western city of Herat.

People stranded at the Pakistani-Afghan border wait to cross the border on Aug. 13, 2021.
People stranded at the Pakistani-Afghan border wait to cross the border on Aug. 13, 2021.
EPA/AKHTER GULFAM

Three Taliban insurgents stormed into the bank and admonished the female employees working there for showing their faces in public, two female cashiers said.  

The women quit and sent male relatives in their place.

The Taliban have seized control of 11 of the country’s 34 provincial capitals in a matter of weeks.

The situation in Afghanistan continues to escalate with the Taliban capturing three more provincial capitals on Friday and the US sending in thousands of troops to help evacuate the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

Taliban fighters are pictured in a vehicle of Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) on a street in Kandahar on August 13, 2021.
Taliban fighters are pictured in a vehicle of the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) on a street in Kandahar on Aug. 13, 2021.
AFP via Getty Images

Biden said earlier in the week he had no regrets about withdrawing following the decades-long war — but has not commented since.

US officials believe the Taliban could now retake Kabul within the next month — even though Biden previously estimated it would occur a year after US troops were removed.

The White House, however, still maintains Afghan forces “have what they need” to battle the militant group.

With Post wires.

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