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The Situation in Afghanistan

Over the past few days, the decades-long humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan has entered into the limelight, as the world is made aware of Afghanistan’s devastating social, economic and political crisis. This Dilemma, as misconceived by many, is not something that has evolved over the last week or few days, but over the past many years. After the US pulled out of Afghanistan earlier this year, quickly and quietly, Taliban gains have been exponential and uncharted. And contrary to the US estimate that the Taliban would take 90 days to capture Kabul, within 5 days, on the 15th of August : The Taliban infiltrated Kabul and humiliated an Afghan Army 4 times their size. What is the current situation ? What led to this situation ? What does this mean for Afghanistan’s immediate future ? How is the world reacting ? Read more to find out.

The Current Situation

On 15th August 2021, the Taliban entered the Afghan capital of Kabul, surrounding it from all sides and seizing power. It was a culmination of a series of military offensives that were undertaken by the Taliban from May 2021. Beginning from the 1st of May, the offensives succeeded in tripling the districts the Taliban controlled, going from 73 to 223 in just 3 months. By August 8th, all but one provincial capital was under Taliban control, and a week later, the capital had fallen. As of now, almost the entirety of Afghanistan is under Taliban control. Major border crossings like Torkham have also come into their control. As of this moment and as far as we know, the only areas of Afghanistan under Government control are Bazarak District, some parts of Chaparhar District, and the Hamid Karzai International Airport situated in Kabul.

The Airport Situation

Coming to the airport, the scenes of what we have seen are absolutely astounding. People climbing on moving aircraft, hanging onto the wings and the landing gear of planes ; all to horrifically fall to their death . Images of a single US Cargo plane were released, carrying over 600 Afghans seeking to flee what was once their nation. Many videos of the crisis have already been circulating the Internet. It is expected that the Taliban will soon seize control of the airport, if they haven’t already. Many countries including the US and the UK have announced immediate plans to airlift their citizens and diplomats as well as eligible asylum seekers. But what has led to all this ?

People hold onto the wings of a moving plane

The Immediate Causes

To understand the immediate cause of the current situation, we must understand Afghanistan's recent history. Here is a timeline to help you understand the recent events and US-Taliban recent history.

In modern history, the downfall of Afghanistan can be traced back to the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, after which anti-extremist stability has been void. More recently, Afghanistan’s future took a steep turn in 2020 after the US reached a peace agreement with the Taliban unknown to the legitimate Afghan regime. It provided legitimacy to the Taliban , portraying it as more than an extremist group and as a vital part of achieving long term peace in Afghanistan. This consequently undermined the 20 year long western effort in Afghanistan and the Afghan government, showing that the Taliban was a reckonable & negotiable party in conflict. There are other immediate causes, including :

  • Unsatisfactory training of the Afghan army, claimed to be on par with US & NATO Standards. In reality, these were basic military exercises that eventually humiliated a 300,000 strong Afghan army to a 75,000 large Taliban insurgence.

  • An improper pull-out plan that was rushed and ill prepared at the very least. It is notable that despite knowing a Taliban uprising was imminent, they continued a hasty pull out leaving Afghanistan to their own devices after 20 years of failed ‘Nation Building.

The United Nations

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) had announced a 2nd emergency meeting on the issue of Afghanistan on the 16th of August to talk and decide upon what should be done to help alleviate the situation. The opening remarks were livestreamed and open to the world, with various “requests'' made to the Taliban, with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres requesting the Taliban to make sure all human rights are followed and that women and children are kept safe. The Indian Ambassador to the UN, T.S. Tirumurti said that the Taliban should respect the voices of the women and minority communities should be respected. The US Ambassador, Linda Greenfield-Thomas was much harsher, saying that the Taliban must allow for the operation of humanitarian aid groups, and must ensure no harm is done to journalists and reporters working in Afghanistan, and should allow any Afghani Citizen wishing to leave the country do so. They also said that Afghanistan must never again become a base for terrorism, something which the Chinese Ambassador Geng Shuan repeated. Following this, the UNSC went into closed consultations.

What does this mean for Afghanistan ?

With the Taliban takeover of Kabul and most of Afghanistan, it is likely that repressive anti-women laws will be rigidly in place. As we have already seen in the previous few months where rapidly expanding Taliban has restricted women from moving out of homes alone and forced them to wear a hijab in areas it had conquered, it is likely that such laws will be applied more stringently and in newer areas where Taliban comes to hold power. As per a UNHRC report, about 400k people have been displaced. Cases of killings of children and women are rising. 32 provinces out of 34 are reporting ongoing conflict with over a 1,000 killed in the past month more than 32% of whom are children.

The UN assistance mission has also warned that Afghanistan is on the way to highest civilian casualty since UN records are being maintained, if such violence does not get de-escalated.

Countries across the world are expressing their worry at the refugee crisis that is likely to continue to grow. The UN has urged the Taliban to exercise restraint. The EU has called for an overhaul of the exercise migration and asylum systems of Europe and several nations are focused on evacuating their nationals living in Kabul.

In conclusion, the current situation is a testament to the cyclic nature of foreign intervention to end badly. Afghanistan, a graveyard for empires may pave the way to the US’s end in world dominance as it has done on multiple occasions. The US regime has on multiple occasions failed to ‘nation build’ and has inadequately prepared the ‘nation’ to fight for itself. The humanitarian crisis that is set to follow will be far greater than the current one, but not new to the suffering population that has been surviving through a decades long one. While many diplomats believe this is the end for Afghanistan and that acceptance is key to everlasting peace, all the Afghan population can bank on is hope ; hope for aid and assistance properly and whole-heartedly-unlike previous interventions. And hope, they'll need it.

Nehal Singhal | Madhav Menon

Editor : Aadi Sardesai

Assistance : Shivansh | Kavya Pandey


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