As U.S. troops were in the process of withdrawing from Afghanistan, the Taliban captured parts of the country between May and August through negotiations that led to the surrendering of Afghan government troops and tribal elders in the region. This comes after 20 years of involvement from the U.S. government in the ‘war on terror’.
Taliban forces were attacked on October 7th, 2001, weeks after the September 11th Terrorist Attacks, starting the Afghanistan War. At the time, President George W. Bush stated that the Taliban refused the demand of turning in Al Qaeda leaders and were now being targeted. Immediately, the Taliban government was overthrown, and an unconditional surrender was offered to the United States in December 2001, but was rejected. The mission then transitioned from an invasion to a period of reconstruction.
A western government was installed by the U.S. and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization). Women across the nation now had greater freedom in their lives. Education was now pursued by everyone in new schools and colleges. Positions in the workforce, including government and Parliament positions were obtained by women. New schools and public facilities were also built to help with this progression. Despite this, hundreds of millions of dollars were embezzled and the inability of the government to properly serve the needs of the people made their inadequate rule apparent.
In the following years, engagement in conflict would not resume until 2009 when President Barack Obama deployed thousands of troops after the Taliban began to recuperate. When a stalemate came about, warfare operations ended on December 14th, 2014. Negotiations between President Donald J. Trump and the Taliban would occur years later, and continue into February 2020, when an agreement was reached. U.S. forces would withdraw by May 1st, 2021, if the Taliban negotiated with the Afghan government and severed their alliances with terrorist groups. President Joe Biden did extend this deadline.
As events proceeded, distrust and corruption found within the Afghan government had lingered and made many soldiers unable or unwilling to fight. Resources had diminished in places, mostly in outposts, which the Taliban then surrounded and offered no violent advance if forces stationed there surrendered. This tactic was followed for months, even before President Biden announced the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Solemn towns were captured at an increasing rate.
Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, was eventually captured on August 15th.
Since this day, residents have attempted to escape at the Hamid Karzai International Airport, located in Kabul. Nations have maintained urgency to evacuate every citizen and refugee from the country.
The situation intensified when ISIS-K militants attacked one of the airport gates in a suicide bombing. At least 90 Afghans and 13 U.S. servicemen were killed. The Taliban, leaders, and officials from the U.N. have condemned the attack. To secure the area, Taliban soldiers dispersed people at the scene by “yelling and brandishing cables”, as said by Matthieu Aikins, a reporter from the New York Times covering Afghanistan. Tension has continued to rise since the event.
Another potential attack was prevented by a C-RAM defense system at the airport that detected 5 rockets aiming for its location that were launched from an improvised vehicle.
At least 117,000 people have been evacuated, most of them being Afghan. A few countries have completed their withdrawal, along with the U.S. The last U.S. service member to leave the nation was on August 30th, the deadline President Biden had announced for the entire removal of troops. However, Afghan people and U.S. citizens still remain grounded at the airport, awaiting their departure from the land. Afghan refugees are currently arriving in countries across the world, including the U.S.
A solution to this has been the transformation of eight military bases established to help accommodate refugees. Senior administration officials on these sites state that the refugees may remain for at least two weeks. Facilities such as housing, cafeterias, and health clinics are available on the bases.
Those that currently reside in the Middle East have begun to protest and fear the rule of the Taliban. Women in Pakistan and Afghanistan have gone against the installment of the Taliban government and have been met with violence. They stand against the government installed by the Taliban, due to the lack of womens’ rights and no representation in government. Whether the Taliban will do anything to support women in the nation is unlikely.
From this point on, Afghanistan and the world will have to await the next actions of the Taliban, and how it will affect everyone and the time involved in an everlasting conflict.
By Adrian Castillo, News Editor