|▲ Taliban soldiers are taking photos with weapons in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, on August 18 (local time). (Source: AP Yonhap News)|
On August 15, only three months after the U.S. and its Allied Forces began a phased withdrawal, Islamic militant group, the Taliban, took control of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, and won the government’s surrender. Ashraf Ghani, the President of Afghanistan left the country, and government forces that had been sponsored by the U.S. Military for 20 years, collapsed. The Afghan War, which had been plagued by violence since the beginning of the U.S. invasion in October 2001, ended after 20 years of conflict. Also, the Taliban, which had been ousted from Afghanistan by the U.S.-led coalition, regained control of the country.
The Taliban had peace talks with the U.S. in 2018 and signed a peace agreement in February of last year to prevent a U.S. withdrawal and Taliban attacks. The Taliban, however, continued to attack Afghan government forces and civilians to expand its power across the country. It was early August of this year, the Taliban began attacking major Afghan cities in earnest. After the withdrawal of the U.S. Forces, the Taliban have taken over Zaranji, the capital of Nimruz Province in southwestern Afghanistan for the first time. Afterward, the Taliban took over the provincial cities at an alarming rate and even the capital, Kabul.
The Taliban declared that they would turn Afghanistan into an inclusive Islamic Government and insisted on advancing women’s rights, ethnic minorities, and democracy. However, the current situation is going quite differently. While people are trying to flee Afghanistan, protesters are holding Afghan flags and are gathered on the streets to fight against the Taliban Regime. However, the Taliban is fighting back using force, by firing a warning shot at Afghan residents gathered outside the airport. This was also released on social media. Crowds of people trying to escape Afghanistan flocked to Kabul International Airport, paralyzing the airport's operations, and U.S. Forces fired warning shots to drive them out. Several Afghans were killed in this process.
Anxiety and fear over the Taliban's oppressive rule, tyranny, and violation of human rights are emerging as a reality. In particular, the fear of women’s safety is reaching its maximum. This is because when the Taliban were in power in the past, they suppressed women's human rights by preventing women from working or going to school. On the day when the Taliban declared that they would rule Afghanistan under Sharia(Islamic) Law, respecting women's rights and confirming there is no discrimination against women, a woman wearing a burqa was shot dead. On the streets of Kabul, pictures of female models covered with white paint were also revealed to the public, raising concerns among the international society. In addition, France 24 reported that the Taliban is making a list of 12 to 45-year-old women by visiting every house to find a match to marry. Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, who was shot and injured by the Taliban at the age of 15, warned that the Taliban's interpretation of Sharia Law would be rather disastrous for Afghan women and girls.
The Taliban, a group gathered with all sorts of people depending on its detailed sects and regions, is still as brutal as they were in the past, killing and committing a terrorist act against civilians after the withdrawal of U.S. Forces. It is said that there are already 2 million refugees who escaped from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. This is about 5.3 percent of Afghanistan's total population. For the Afghan Government, the current situation seems bleak. U.S. Republicans strongly criticize President Joe Biden over the current situation. However, according to foreign news reports, many point out that President Biden misjudged the Afghan situation after the withdrawal of U.S. Forces, and that he was poor at preparing countermeasures. This situation symbolically shows how one-sided and vulnerable the war was that the U.S. started, right after the September 11 attacks were committed. No one can guarantee that the Taliban, which strongly suppresses the human rights of women and minorities with excessive religious beliefs, will lead Afghanistan well. Attempts to implant certain ideologies and values externally are also very difficult to succeed. While universal values are important in the international community, the situation in Afghanistan reminds us that it is important that the fate of the country should be determined by its people.
By Park Jung-hyun,cub-reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
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