Understanding what’s going on in Afghanistan

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Image credit: AP Photo/ Zabi Karimi

Why were U.S troops in Afghanistan in the first place?

On September 11 2001, Al-Qaeda orchestrated four devastating terrorist attacks against the United States of America. Nearly 3000 people were killed and over 6000 injured. In response to the 9/11 attacks, Former U.S. President George Washington Bush declared a War on Terror against Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. U.S. troops were deployed to fight back against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, who at that time ruled over most of Afghanistan and also harboured the terrorists. The invasion was to prevent Al-Qaeda from having a base to attack the U.S. again.

What happened after the US-led invasion?

Within months, the Taliban – a fundamentalist Islamic military group, was removed from power and there was a new interim government in Afghanistan. Three years later, Hamid Kazai was elected president. The war continued for 20 years and in that time, the U.S. has spent hundred of billions of dollars on training and supplies for the Afghan security forces. During this period, the Taliban had also been regrouping and finding ways to get back in power.

Why is the U.S. leaving now after 20 years of war?

For years, the U.S. has been trying to leave Afghanistan and this long drawn out war that has cost hundreds of thousands of deaths. In April, current U.S. President Joe Biden ordered the full withdrawal of U.S. troops by 11th September 2021. In a recent statement, the President said, “The mission in Afghanistan was never supposed to be nation-building,”. After devoting years and years of people, resources, time, effort and money into helping Afghanistan, he said, “U.S. military presence would not have made a difference if the Afghan military cannot or will not hold its own country”.

Who is ruling over Afghanistan as of right now?

The Taliban have taken over ever since the President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Gahni, fled the country on Sunday. Following the collapse of the government, the Taliban are quickly regaining power all over the country with little resistance.

What does this mean for the people of Afghanistan?

With the departure of the U.S. troops, the fall of the government and the reign of the Taliban, the people of Afghanistan are in a state of chaos. People are scared of repercussions for working with the U.S and are fearing for their lives. Many are trying to flee from the country as they are fearful about what the new Taliban rule and harsh Taliban interpretation of the Islamic law will be like. Although the Taliban has made it known that they are going to form an “inclusive, Islamic government”, the people of Afghanistan are struggling to believe that the rule will not be extreme and oppressive.

Should the Taliban rule be anything like it once was, it would mean taking away many of women’s rights. It would more than likely include things like no access to education music and movies. Being forced to wear a full burqa and not being able to leave the house without a male relative as a companion. Although the Taliban has promised that women will be allowed education and the right to work as long as they wear the hijab, the people are uncertain to say the least that they will follow through on their promises.

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