On August 15th, 2021, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, otherwise known as the Taliban, entered the capital of Kabul. The Taliban, viewed as a terrorist organization by many governments, is known for its harsh treatment of women as well as harboring al-Qaeda terrorists unwanted by Saudi Arabia. More recently, thousands of Afghans have been forced to evacuate in fear of a new Taliban rule.
On account of all the violence occurring, it is difficult to believe that the Taliban provide fair representation, regardless of their claims in doing so. In Afghanistan, President Ghani fled as the Taliban seized the Presidential Palace on August 15th, armed with numerous weapons. After reaching his destination in the United Arab Emirates, President Ghani was heavily criticized for allegedly abandoning his people. Many have come to believe that this action reflects selfishness and neglect towards the country he serves. The Taliban stated that it will have a “peaceful transition of power,” yet to many, this will obviously not be the case if thousands of fighters pose a threat. Compared to the Afghan government, the “peaceful transition” can be better related to violent intimidation.
A student who preferred to remain anonymous stated the following: “When the Taliban state that the transition will be peaceful, to me, it is a threat. Obviously, the Taliban are not peacefully walking up to the presidential palace and getting through. By “peacefully,” the Taliban are emphasizing that because of their massive militant power now, the government can’t do anything. They can’t fight, because that will result in unnecessary bloodshed.” Taliban forces also seized United States air force bases. This action was eventually proven with pictures of Taliban militants who were seen with American gear, such as night-vision goggles and weapons.
Not only is having supplies seized unfavorable, but it also tarnishes part of America’s image. To many, it portrays America as weak in its inability to prevent terrorism just prior to the September 11th anniversary. Moreover, with the building of a new Taliban government along with an extraordinary amount of supplies, there is much less stopping another terrorist attack.
This year in 2021, President Joe Biden was set on withdrawing all United States forces from Afghanistan by September 11th, which will be the 20th anniversary of this tragic day. Many supported this decision, declaring that it was time to take the forces out after so many years. However, as the Taliban made rapid advances, some pointed to the Afghan forces who were not prepared to defend against the Taliban without United States forces due to a multitude of factors. A student stated that “It is easy to blame President Biden, but the reality is that we, as a country, were trying to pull out of Afghanistan. No one had ill intent here in the United States.” Another student agreed with this, but said that “While no one had ill intent, it still should be made sure that the proper decisions are made at the proper times.”
At the moment, Afghanistan is America’s longest war. When allied troops departed from Afghanistan, Afghan forces could no longer rely upon them for logistical support. The Afghan military was then unable to provide supplies such as food and ammunition to outposts throughout the country. The United States military heavily relied on airpower and technology, which the Afghans had a difficult time maintaining. It was also difficult for Afghanistan to be secure without supplying outposts by air. As a result of this, the Afghan army lost its ability to keep the country secure and the military fell apart.
A student commented that “Knowing that Afghanistan is our longest war as a nation, we shouldn’t let it fall this easily to the Taliban. I do believe that it is right to also not let American troops die in an endless battle, but at the same time, we must consider the Afghan people who now live in fear on a daily basis, wondering if they will be alive the next day.”
The Taliban have reportedly been conducting a “manhunt,” searching for any Americans or rivals. Afghan protests have been diminished using violence as well. In one such case, protesters lowered a previously raised Taliban flag that signified a captured area. The Taliban responded by swinging at the crowds with batons and using firearms. Additionally, the terrorist organization responsible for the September 11th attacks, al-Qaeda, delivered threats surrounding the Kabul airport, a popular location for evacuees.
Other fundamental human rights continue to be a concern amid the Taliban’s desired regime. In Taliban-controlled areas, people are regularly being executed, women are being vigorously lashed and fundamental education institutions are shutting down. Additionally, minorities have a higher chance of being persecuted under the Taliban. The Shiite Hazaras, an ethnic group composed of Persian-speaking Shia Muslims, are non-conformant to the Sunni branch of Islam. During the 1990s, in which an ongoing civil war and Taliban rule shook the country, thousands of Shiite Hazaras were massacred. After the United States invaded Afghanistan, ending the Taliban’s rule in 2001, Taliban fighters continued to kill Shiite Hazaras as well as target their hospitals, schools, and mosques.
As the Taliban continues to expand its new regime, many are left wondering what the future of Afghanistan will be. Will the original government regain power or will the Taliban continue to grow? One student stated, “At this point in time, I do not know what will happen, as swift actions are being taken from all sides of the world. The United States is rushing to evacuate, while the Taliban are expanding and making sure that Afghanistan is fully within their control.”
If the Taliban have the ability to conquer a whole country within a short period of time, it is necessary to understand the best ways to assess and resolve the situation as swiftly as possible. And with the whole world watching, it is crucial that the US analyze the situation to protect ourselves and our allies.
Students who are concerned for family, friends, or community members in Afghanistan and want to help can visit Mira Loma’s informative meeting on Wednesday, August 25th at 3:30 pm in the new science wing flex room. The meeting will help students connect with the U.S.-Afghanistan evacuation database and the U.S. Department of State for flights and evacuations, and write letters to elected officials in support of Afghanis.