Taliban in Afghanistan

Loren Savage, Writer

The Taliban entered Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, on August 15th as the United States continued withdrawing troops from the country. This signaled the beginning of the end of the United States’ longest war.

Shortly after 9/11, in autumn of 2001, President George W. Bush authorized the use of military force against those responsible for the 9/11 attack. The U.S. began a bombing campaign against Al-Qaeda and Taliban forces. In April of 2002 President Bush gave a speech and called for the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Over the next few years, a government was put in place for Afghanistan by the United States; a constitution was written and a president was elected. Afghanistan and the United States created an alliance to strengthen the country, the government and Afghan military forces in order to protect Afghanistan against the Taliban. Conflicts in the country never fully disappeared but the country began to heal.

Then, during the Trump administration, a deal was made with the Taliban to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. The original deadline for withdrawal was May 1st, 2021, however, after President Biden’s inauguration, the deadline was delayed, pushing the deadline to August 31st. As U.S. troops began to leave, the Taliban made more attacks, starting in smaller cities and eventually working their way to Kabul. The U.S. began sending troops to help evacuate diplomats, civilians, and Afghans who helped during the war.

As the government fell, citizens began to frantically attempt to leave the capital. Thousands gathered at the Kabul airport desperately trying to escape. The President, Ashraf Ghani, fled the country without warning. Ghani said his reason for fleeing was to avoid bloodshed. He has been criticized for leaving the Afghan people to fend for themselves.

An emergency Group of Seven (G7) meeting was called on August 24 to discuss the situation. G7 leaders, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States, have yearly summits to discuss global issues and policy. The G7 leaders discussed humanitarian assistance, policy in Afghanistan, and evacuation. The leaders expressed their concern and called for international groups to work together to help.

Biden began receiving pressure to extend the deadline in order to evacuate more citizens. The Taliban had stated that they would not accept a deadline past August 31st. A Taliban spokesman stated, “If the U.S. or U.K. were to seek additional time to continue evacuations, the answer is no. Or there would be consequences.”

On August 26th, a suicide bombing occurred at Kabul’s airport while Afghan citizens were attempting to evacuate. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack. Thirteen U.S. service members were killed in the attack as well as ninety Afghans. More than one hundred forty people were injured.

The U.S. met its August 31st deadline, with the last plane leaving late at night on August 30th. After the last troops were gone the Taliban began to celebrate their “complete independence,” a Taliban spokesperson said.

About 31,000 evacuees arrived in the United States, 7,000 are U.S. citizens. Many are being housed in hotels and Airbnbs while affordable housing is being looked for. However, many are having a difficult time finding resources and money because many are entering with pending visas. People are entering as “humanitarian parolees” as opposed to citizens which offer little support and resources. The parolees are provided with limited assistance for 90 days. Nonprofits working with the refugees are pushing Congress to send emergency funding to help Afghans adjust to life in the states. Around 39,000 evacuees are being sheltered at European and Middle Eastern military bases.

On September 7th the Taliban announced an interim government for Afghanistan. A Prime Minister as well as other high-ranking officials have been appointed. Women have not been included in the creation of this government. However, Taliban leaders have said that women will play an important role in society and still have access to education. Contradictory, the Taliban has also stated that women should stay at home along with forcing many to leave their workplaces. Afghan women have taken to the streets of Kabul in protest.

The United States leaving Afghanistan should have gone a lot smoother. The U.S. should have anticipated the Taliban taking over as quickly as they did so that evacuations could have been less chaotic. Women’s rights in Afghanistan have dramatically improved since 2001, which is an incredible accomplishment, but if the Afghan government wasn’t strong enough to last without U.S. military presence, then what were we doing? I agree that it was time to leave the country and that we couldn’t stay there forever, but could we have helped them create a rock-solid government during the last 20 years?