The Situation in Afghanistan

Photos of women in Kabul being covered up because of the impending Taliban rule.

Vice News

Photos of women in Kabul being covered up because of the impending Taliban rule.

Azzurra Degliuomini, Editor

On August 15th, the Taliban took control of Kabul, the last major city standing in Afghanistan that wasn’t in their control. The world has sat and watched the total destruction that has taken place in the country over the last few days, but many have wondered how this actually came to head.

The answer isn’t as simple as one may think. Some may say that it was simply corruption or weakness of the government. Others may say it was US military forces that have been in the country for the last twenty years. The truth is, there are many factors that led to the downfall of the Afghan government and the rise of the Taliban government.

The Taliban first came into power in 1994 as a faction during the Afghan Civil War. After that, they started gaining power, until they captured Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, in September of 1996. 

After the 9/11 attacks, President Bush began a long and bloody War on Terror, invading Afghanistan after demanding the Taliban hand over Osama Bin Laden. Every US president after George W. Bush kept their attack on the Taliban, merely using Afghanistan as a battleground. 

After the assassination of Osama Bin Laden during the Obama Administration, the US handed security responsibilities to the Afghan government but stayed behind to help train military and government officials. Talks of withdrawing troops began during the Obama Administration, but the Taliban beginning to gain power once again forced American troops to stay in the country longer. 

Both the Trump and Biden Administrations made it clear that they wanted to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, but a peace treaty with the Taliban was canceled during the Trump Administration. President Biden finally gave an official date when all US troops would be out of Afghanistan; September 11th, 2021, twenty years to the day of the worst terrorist attack on American soil.

Unfortunately, many underestimated the power that the Taliban truly had, which was growing stronger by the day as they took over major cities in Afghanistan. “I’ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw U.S troops,” says President Biden during a conference he held on August 16th. Even though he has faced major backlash from both the international community and his own political party, he has stated that he stands behind his decision.

A now outdated map of Taliban control of Afghanistan. (New York Times)

Over the last 48 hours, we have seen heartbreaking pictures of Afghans trying to flee the country by US military transport, even going as far as hanging off the wings of the planes. We have seen twenty years of progress, albeit slow, be threatened entirely. Many are worried about how the Taliban takeover is going to affect women’s rights in the country, given that the Taliban doesn’t believe in women holding positions of power. The terrorist group has come out and stated that they will guarantee women’s rights under the “limits of Islam,” but many are not hopeful.

In the end, after twenty years and over $2 trillion spent, $83 billion of it being for training the Afghan military, the US and its allies took a massive defeat in a situation that could have been entirely avoided.