What's Been happening in Afghanistan Explained
On July 8th, 2021, President Joe Biden stated that the United States went to Afghanistan “to get the terrorists who attacked on 9/11 and deliver justice to Osama bin Laden, and to degrade the terrorist threat to keep Afghanistan from becoming a base from which attacks could be continued against the United States… We did not go to Afghanistan to nation-build.” This statement followed the dramatic increase in troop withdrawal that occurred in July as the United States attempted to remove all troops by September. As the United States “had completed nearly 95 percent of its withdrawal, leaving just 650 troops to protect the U.S. embassy in Kabul,”(Council on Foreign Relations, 2021) the Taliban began to swiftly act to regain their political authority.
Although primarily focusing on recapturing urban areas, on August 6th, the Taliban captured Nimruz Province and proceeded to apprehend more than ten more provinces within a matter of days. A little more than a week later they would move into the capital, causing President Ashraf Ghani to flee the country. The speed and extent to which the Taliban had taken authority far exceeded the expectations the United States predicted as they coordinated the withdrawal of their troops prior to July. However, according to the New York Times, “A historical analysis provided to Congress concluded that the Taliban had learned lessons from their takeover of the country. This time the report said, the militant group would first secure the border crossings, commandeer provincial capitals and seize swaths of the country’s north before moving in on Kabul, a prediction that would prove accurate.”
As the situation developed, the United States has remained firm on its decision of leaving Afghanistan. Regardless of the reasoning, revoking troops has provided instability to the nation and has prompted the return of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Zabihullah Mujahid, the chief spokesman for the Taliban, proclaimed that “We don’t want Afghanistan to be a battlefield anymore - from today onward, war is over.” (Mashal and Pérez-Peña, 2021) However, the international community is skeptical on the direction of peace and what relationships will prosper between parties as history has displayed “radical” perspectives of Islam accompanied by harsh punishments that have extended to death. Despite the record the Taliban possesses, they advocate for political pluralism as well as promises to more secure rights for both women and minorities.
Speculation surrounds these apparent claims and promises as a dual presentation has been displayed. In one instance the Taliban publicly recognized and took questions from a female journalist but on the same day Khadija Amin, a well-known anchorwoman, asserted that the Taliban had “suspended her, and other female employees, indefinitely” (Fassihi and Bilefsky, 2021). Whether the decision was based on previous content pertaining to her own political views, based on her gender, or another reason in its entirety, the Taliban has provided room for doubt in their initiatives of more fair living. With women finally gaining the necessary momentum and empowerment within their communities, it is all the more crucial that the traction gained is not merely reset. You can highlight the necessity of supporting women’s rights in Afghanistan by signing a petition here.
With growing turmoil and uncertainty, citizens of Afghanistan fear the Taliban rule to the extent of producing the events that have occurred at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital. During the incident, a display of desperation and fear swarmed a C-17 Globemaster III plane to flee from the country as the Taliban had entered the capital. Before the plane’s crew could unload the necessary equipment the plane brought, it was boarded by Americans and Afghan citizens seeking to flee the country, estimating around 800 civilians on board. Although many civilians were rescued, the incident did not occur without a few Afghanistan citizens losing their lives as they sought to flee the country, extending to finding human remains on the plane and near the landing gear. Similar events followed the scene which can be depicted here, only further displaying the worries of what may come of a rule under the Taliban.
The international community is watching Afghanistan’s restructure as the Taliban takes over. The United States is attempting to prioritize more “modern threats” such as combating terrorism, countering nuclear proliferation, and addressing terrorist threats, as they have finished their reason for being in Afghanistan. Although this may be, it raises questions on how the procedure of events that unfolded could have been handled better or if Afghanistan should still be a priority as the probability for terror groups using Afghanistan as a safe haven for operations increase?
Cohen Roger, Post-9/11 Era Ends Painfully, For America and Afghanistan, New York Times, August 2021, A8
Cooper Helene, Schmitt Eric, Body Parts Found Inside Landing Gear of U.S. Plane, New York Times, August 2021, A9
Fattahi Nahid, Pres. Biden and Congress: Ensure Afghan women’s rights alongside peace with the Taliban, https://www.change.org/p/pres-biden-and-congress-ensure-afghan-women-s-rights-alongside-peace-with-the-taliban
Garland Chad, Air Force C-17 rescues hundreds of Afghans crowded onto cargo bay floor, Stars and Stripes, August 2021, https://www.stripes.com/theaters/middle_east/2021-08-17/Air-Force-reach-871-evacuates-afghans-kabul-2582866.html
Kiely Eugene, Farley Robert, Timeline of U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan, FactCheck, August, 2021, https://www.factcheck.org/2021/08/timeline-of-u-s-withdrawal-from-afghanistan/
Losey Stephen, Airforce Reviewing Fatal Incident as Kabul Airport Where Crowd Rushed a C-17, https://www.military.com/daily-news/2021/08/17/air-force-reviewing-fatal-incident-kabul-airport-where-crowd-rushed-c-17.html
Mashal Mujib, Pérez Peña Richard, World is Skeptical as Leaders Lay Out Afghan Future, New York Times, August 2021, A8
Mazzetti Mark et al. Contradicting Biden, Reports Warned of Rapid Collapse, New York Times, August 2021, A6
Remarks by President Biden on the Drawdown of the U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, The White House, July 2021, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2021/07/08/remarks-by-president-biden-on-the-drawdown-of-u-s-forces-in-afghanistan/
The Associated Press, What is happening in Afghanistan? Expert Explains what you need to know, ABC, August 2021, https://6abc.com/what-is-happening-in-afghanistan-news-taliban-kabul/10955430/
Turak Natasha, Macias Amanda, Deadly firefight erupts at Kabul airport as evacuation chaos continues into second week, CNBC, August 2021, https://www.cnbc.com/2021/08/23/deadly-firefight-erupts-at-kabul-airport-as-evacuation-chaos-continues.html
War in Afghanistan, Council on Foreign Relations, August 2021, https://www.cfr.org/global-conflict-tracker/conflict/war-afghanistan