As United States troops pull out of Aghanistan, the Taliban have advanced, most recently taking over the capital city of Kabul.
Trigger Warning: Descriptions of War and Terrorism
Ever since United States President Joe Biden announced that he would withdraw troops from Afghanistan after nearly two decades of war, the Taliban have rapidly taken over regions across the Middle Eastern nation. Most recently, former President Ashraf Ghani fled the country for nearby Tajikistan and the presidential palace in Kabul, the capital and largest city in Afghanistan, was handed over to the Taliban. According to members of the Taliban, there was a "peaceful handover of government facilities ongoing across the country." However, as widespread fighting intensifies, Afghanis will now face a fast-moving humanitarian crisis. Some of those most affected are women, children, and members of the LGBTQ+ community, CNN reports.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees spokesperson Shabia Mantoo told journalists based at the United Nations in Geneva, "80 percent of nearly 250,0000 Afghans forced to flee since the end of May are women and children. This is a staggering statistic. We need to raise the alarm about the disproportionate toll they are paying for what is happening on the ground." According to experts, the withdrawal of US troops from the area opened a clear path for the Taliban to take on and defeat the Afghan security forces, exacerbating the crisis.
Since then, the US embassy in Kabul has been evacuated, with most US embassy staff being moved to the city's international airport for flights out of the country. The airport, which has gained much global attention since the capital was seized by the Taliban, is now overcrowded with citizens and foreigners trying to flee the country. Foreign governments are working to evacuate civilians, but aid has not been forthcoming. US citizens residing in the city have been instructed to shelter in place. "The security situation in Kabul is changing quickly including at the airport," a security alert read. "There are reports of the airport taking fire."
The swift fall of Afghanistan's national forces and the country's government has come as a surprise to President Biden and senior members of his administration, who admitted to miscalculation. Last month, officials from the Biden administration believed it would take months before Kabul fell to the hands of the Taliban. Referring to the crisis unfolding in the Middle Eastern region, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CNN's Jake Tapper on State of the Union, "The fact of the matter is we've seen that that force has been unable to defend the country. And that has happened more quickly than we anticipated."
As we come up to the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, the fall of Kabul is a scathing criticism of the US's imperialist project in Afghanistan. US-backed military intervention in the country was legitimized under the "war on terror" organized by then-President George W. Bush. Unfortunately, the intervention only further destabilized the region. Now, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley predicts that terrorist groups such as al Qaeda could reconstitute in Afghanistan sooner than the two years defense officials had previously estimated to Congress because of the recent, rapid Taliban takeover of the country. The United Nations security council is expected to meet on Monday to discuss next steps, as the US sends 1,000 more troops into Afghanistan. If you would like to donate now to help the International Rescue Committee (IRC) support Afghans in crisis, you can do so here.