Horrifying. That’s the only way I can describe the unfolding situation in Afghanistan. The Taliban have moved into the capital and stormed the government, resulting in chaos ensuing around the country.
For today, I want to focus on the ‘what’. What is the history of this conflict? What has happened over the law few days? I will wait until the situation becomes clearer before delving into the impact and consequences of this overthrow.
So, how did we get to this point?
In 1996, the Taliban seized control of Kabul (the capital of Afghanistan) and declared the country an Islamic emirate. The Taliban ruled until they were ousted by a US-led coalition in 2001.
This was a significant moment and led the Taliban to scatter around Asia. However, this didn’t stop their belief in regaining power. For the last two decades, they have deliberately focused on slowly taking over Afghanistan’s villages and communities. They have used the adverse reaction towards America’s influence in the region to encourage new recruits and exploited Afghanistan’s corrupt government.
As America left, the Taliban entered. Previously, the group seized control of Jalalabad, the last major city outside of Kabul held by the country’s increasingly isolated central government, cutting off the capital to the eat and tightening their grip on the nation. Their slow, precise approach has enabled them to re-build their movement and culminated in the takeover of the Presidential Palace in Kabul.
The goal? Well, the Taliban’s approach has been consistent since the beginning. They want to reinstate their vision of Islamic law in Afghanistan. A version that completely encompasses the word extreme.
No parliament. No electoral politics. Confining women to their homes. Banning mixed-gender education.
These are the fundamental beliefs of the Taliban which will be difficult to employ without resorting to brutal force. The country is very different to how it looked 20 years ago, and the future remains unknown with how the group will rule the nation.
As for now, there is no resistance. America has defended their decision to withdraw troops, with President Biden arguing that Afghan forces had to fight back against Taliban fighters sweeping through the country. This leaves the Taliban free to choose their next actions.
Regardless, it is the civilians of Afghanistan who will continue to suffer. Over 47,000 civilians lost their lives during the War, and this takeover will only lead to more. Traumatic scenes at the capital’s airport have been streamed worldwide, portraying images of the tarmac filled with people desperate to flee the country. When people are trying to hug the side of a US military plane as it takes off, praying that they will be able to hold on, that’s when we realise the extent of this situation.
Well, destruction is inevitable. The question is the extent of the destruction and whether it centres around civil liberties or extends to crimes against humanity. The Western World will be waiting for the next move of the Taliban, and the initial reaction of President Biden particularly will be of immense importance, along with the American Congress and UN Security Council.
Until then, we just have to wait and see how the situation unfolds.
To the people of Afghanistan, we see you, and we hear you.
To leaders of the Western World, if you fail to learn from the mistakes of the previous conflict in Afghanistan, then we will ONLY witness more lives lost and more pain inflicted.
There is – more to come.