In April 2021, US President Joe Biden announced that the US would withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by the 11th of September 2021, which marks exactly 20 years after the 9/11 attacks that triggered the U.S War on Terror. Following this announcement, the Afghan extremist group Taliban began to capture different areas across the country, and finally seized the capital, Kabul, on Sunday. Below is a brief summary of the events that led to the current events and what you can do to help.
It is important to understand that the current events unfolding in Afghanistan are deep-rooted in history. Afghans have suffered at the hands of various forces and powers for decades.
The War on Terror military campaign was launched by former US President George Bush in response to 9/11. Between 1996 and 2001, the Taliban held power in most of Afghanistan. The group provided sanctuary to Al Qaeda, headed by Osama Bin Laden, who was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. In the aftermath of 9/11, the US invaded Afghanistan, overthrew the Taliban, and built military bases across the country. The US invasion lasted two decades, and during this period, the Taliban regrouped in different parts of the country and continued to launch attacks. An estimated 241,000 civilians have died due to the war between the US and the Taliban. In addition, the years of continued fighting destroyed Afghanistan’s infrastructure. Many Afghans struggle to access basic necessities like food, water, and health care.
In early 2009, the US government began peace talks with the Taliban, aiming to find a solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. The US subsequently agreed to withdraw its troops and leave power to the new Afghan government.
During the three years that the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, Afghani women were subject to severe marginalization and victimization. Women were not allowed to go to school or work and were forced to marry members of the Taliban. Although the Taliban claim to be an Islamist movement, barring women from school and work, and subjecting them to forced marriages is not part of sharia law and goes against the core principles of Islam.
The Aftermath of US Withdrawal
Over the past week, it has been reported that women working in civil service across Afghanistan have been ordered to leave their jobs and go home. Female students and lecturers were also denied entry into universities by the Taliban, while their male counterparts were allowed to go in. It has also been reported that the Taliban are going door to door and forcibly marrying girls as young as 12 years old.
Now that the Taliban is back in power, Afghans are facing newfound horror, as they prepare for the brutal rule they have already experienced before. In particular, women and young girls fear for their lives remembering the events that occurred during the Taliban’s last rule. On the 16th of August, a shocking video was released by Al Jazeera showing Afghans chasing down a US Air Force plane as it takes off, with some falling to their death while clinging to the plane.
How can you help?
1. Awareness- start by joining the conversation on social media. Raising awareness is a crucial step towards helping and amplifying the voices of Afghans.
2. Sign the petitions calling on governments to take in Afghan refugees and provide security at Kabul airport so flights can continue bringing people to safety.
3. Donate to @AfghanAidHQ and @Miles4Migrants, who are working to provide relief in Afghanistan and assisting Afghans with legal approval for travel.