Sociologist researcher and translator working in the development of Human Rights.
Sunday, August 15th, 2021
On Sunday, August 15th, 2021, the President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, left the country to avoid bloodshed from the Taliban takeover. On the night of the 15th, Taliban fighters overtook the capital of Kabul, seizing police stations and the presidential palace. Imposing themselves as the new government, fighters have removed the country’s flag as well as all anything representing prior Western occupancy (1). Due to this takeover, prisoners from Kabul’s main prison have been freed, and thousands of others have fled the country by car or plane. The airport of Kabul has become saturated with people trying to escape the country, leaving five dead amidst the panic (2). With several people filling air strips and the overflow of passengers, many commercial flights from Hamid Karzai International Airport are at a standstill(3). To see the evolution of the Taliban takeover, click on the following link: Mapping Taliban Contested and Controlled Districts in Afghanistan | FDD's Long War Journal
A Repeat of History
From 1996 – 2001 the Taliban ruled the country, enforcing strict Islamic law, with little to no regard towards human rights violations(4). During this time, public executions, stoning and dehumanization of women, and cutting off hands of those accused of burglary were not uncommon. Bloodshed and violence were the norm during this time, leading many to fear the Taliban and not dare to challenge their power. It wasn’t until the Twin Towers attack in New York City on September 11, 2001, when US troops entered Afghanistan, removing the Taliban from power for almost 20 years and putting in place western supported leaders(5). After almost two decades and billions of dollars spent, the US sought to remove its troops from the country.
US Troop Withdrawal
In 2020, as an effort towards the removal of US forces, US President Donald Trump signed a pact with the Taliban agreeing to limit military action against this group. However, this deal enabled Taliban fighters to build their network over the last year, giving them the force to easily takeover as the US withdrew from the country. Now with the Taliban in power, countries all around the world have launched operations to remove their nationals. To aid in this transition, US President Biden sent 6,000 troops to Afghanistan on Sunday, August 15th, 2021(6). Although the seizing of power has led to little bloodshed, and senior Taliban leader, Mullah Baradar, has assured that their leadership approach has become more moderate and humane than before, many still scurry to flee the country.
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What Comes Next?
Since his departure from the country, President Hamid Karzai has stated that a coordinating council shall be formed to “reduce the suffering and chaos”(7). Taliban administrators have stated that foreigners are free to leave the country but that those who stay must register themselves with the Taliban(8). A spokesman for the group, Suhail Shaheen, has gone on to say that all Women’s Rights will be respected, women will be able to work and go to school, but that they must always wear a hijab. Since the seize, fighters have started collecting civilian’s weapons stating, “We understand people kept weapons for personal safety. They can now feel safe. We are not here to harm innocent civilians.” Despite these claims, many Afghans feel abandoned and betrayed by the US withdrawing its troops and fear for what is to come.