Taliban Reestablishes Control in Afghanistan

 Taliban officials discuss new government in Kabul.

 On April 14th, President Joe Biden announced the planned withdrawal of all US troops from Afghanistan by September 11, the 20th anniversary of the terror attack carried out by Al-Qaeda on the World Trade Center.

What followed has contradicted intelligence services’ expectations across NATO nations, including those of the US and Britain as the Taliban made unprecedented gains throughout May until August, with the Taliban finally entering Kabul—the Afghan capital—on August 15th. 

By August 31st, all US troops had left Afghanistan for the first time in 20 years, prompting the Taliban to declare “full independence.” The Taliban fired guns in the air in celebration, and held mock “funerals” for NATO allies— particularly for the U.S.A and U.K. In Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban, thousands of supporters took to the streets to celebrate the end of U.S. presence in Afghanistan. 

However, there are signs that Taliban-controlled Afghanistan is not as beloved as the hard-line group is portraying it. The public health minister, Dr. Wahid Majrooh, has warned that the health service is buckling under a lack of fuel, food and medicine with more and more hospitals closing by the day. The United Nations has warned that Afghanistan is facing a humanitarian disaster, and Afghan women held a protest on September 3rd to demand that their rights be retained. British intelligence has warned that Afghanistan will be more susceptible to terror attacks, like the caliber experienced in Kabul airport on August 26th which killed 13 US servicemen, the first soldiers to lose their lives on Afghan soil in 18 months.

The Taliban has assured its citizens that it will not be ruling in the same way as it did during their 1996-2001 run by pledging pardons and safeguards to women’s rights. During their previous regime, Afghanistan operated under strict Sharia Law, greatly restricting the rights of women. Moreover, their original pledges have been called into question over the recent flogging of two journalists who were accused of fueling protest movements and the brutal way the Kabul Women’s March was put down. The UN has also received reports of targeted executions carried out by Taliban fighters. 

Much criticism has been leveled at the Biden administration over their handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal. Whilst the President’s defense has centered around “there was never a good time” to withdraw. He also stated that he would not extend the August 31st deadline set by the Taliban to withdraw all personnel, and Afghan allies argued he would not create a “forever exit,” but there have been complaints of allies left behind, billions of dollars of military equipment left in Taliban hands and questions over tactical decisions undertaken.

– Olivia Thomas ’22

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