A representative for the radical Islamist Taliban said the war in Afghanistan was over. The movement itself is now celebrating their triumph, which they managed to achieve in just a month.
For example, here is a photo from the presidential palace in Kabul. On it, we see a group of Taliban, who are comfortably accommodated in the hall, where until recently ousted President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani, who eventually fled the country along with his closest aides, was in charge. Kabul itself (as well as the rest of the country) was surrendered to the Taliban practically without a fight.
If Ghani managed to escape, then many ordinary Afghans were not as lucky as the ex-president. The footage in which people storm the Kabul airport, planes at the airport, abandoning everything and trying to escape from the country is circulating in the whole world. The Taliban plans to declare the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
Why do Afghans risk their lives to flee the country? Perhaps a better understanding will come after we learn what the Taliban is.
What is the Taliban?
The Taliban is a brutal, fundamentalist religious group that held power over most of Afghanistan during the late 1990s. The word Taliban comes from tālib, "student" in Arabic, as the group was started by Pakistani religious school students in the mid-1990s.
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan was diplomatically recognized by three states: the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
The Taliban regime was overthrown by the US army with the support of the Northern Alliance (the opposition to the Taliban group of field commanders in northern Afghanistan) after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 as a result of the counter-terrorist operation.
In 2003, the UN Security Council recognized the Taliban as a terrorist organization.
Taliban went underground and partly withdrew to neighboring Pakistan. And they got their chance 20 years later, organizing an offensive on the positions of the Afghan army after the US decision to withdraw troops from the country. By August 15, the Taliban announced the establishment of control throughout the country.
And now the most "interesting" part. A few words about the ideology of the Taliban.
The official religion of the Taliban is a branch of Islam called ash'arism. Anyone who does not agree with this ideology, according to the Taliban, is devious and subject to persecution.
Sharia norms are introduced in the territories controlled by the Taliban. They prohibit: television, music and musical instruments, fine arts, alcohol, computers, the Internet, chess, white shoes, open discussion of sex, etc.
Men are required to wear a beard of certain length. Women are not allowed to work, to be treated by male doctors, to appear in public places with an open face and without a husband or male relative; women's access to education was significantly limited.
In February 2001, all non-Islamic monuments started to be destroyed in Afghanistan. In particular, two giant statues of Buddha carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamyan valley of central Afghanistan in the 3rd and 4th centuries, were blown up.
The Taliban is remembered for dozens of terrorist attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan. For example, in January 2018, the Taliban attacked the Hotel Intercontinental in Kabul. The attack killed 18 to 43 people, including seven Ukrainian citizens.
There are cases when underage teenagers became victims of the Taliban. For example, in 2007, in Paktika province, the Taliban shot a schoolchild for learning English.
In 2010, in Helmand province, they executed a 7-year-old boy accused of espionage. In 2011, the Taliban hanged an 8-year-old child whose father, who served in the police, refused join them.
Taliban seized Afghanistan. What's next?
Taliban claimed that they are not going to create a transitional government and will seek the direct transfer of official power in the country.
At the same time, they started with a rather soft rhetoric.
Firstly, they promised to ensure security in Kabul and asked residents "not to worry." They also promised that the lives and property of citizens are safe, specifying that, if necessary, Afghans can turn to the Mujahideen for help.
Secondly, the Taliban promised not to take revenge after the full control over the country. The militants have promised not to repress those who served in the military and civilian sectors in Kabul.
Thirdly, the Taliban states that women in Afghanistan will be able to receive education and work, and journalists would be able to criticize the events.
In addition, women will have to wear a hijab, but will be able to leave the house without men.
The Taliban also claimed they would avoid lynching in society. All punishments, such as executions or stoning, will only be carried out by court order.
Taliban have even gone as far as promises such as forming a government where not all members will be Taliban representatives.
How the United States and other countries react to what is happening?
The United States declared that they had achieved their main goals in Afghanistan. For example, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said that the United States brought Osama bin Laden to justice and "diminished threat from al-Qaeda."
Well, earlier, US President Joe Biden assured that the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan would not lead to the fall of the Afghan government and the seizure of the country by the Taliban.
Because, according to Biden, the Afghan government's army is better trained and equipped than the Taliban militants.
Practice has shown that Biden was wrong.
A few more words about the reaction. It is indicative. Diplomats from a number of countries fled from their embassies to Kabul airport. These included employees of missions of the United States, Germany and France. They were urgently evacuated.
At the same time, Russian diplomats decided not to leave, as the Taliban guarantee the safety of the embassy workers.
How is the evacuation from Afghanistan proceeding?
As expected, there were no problems for politicians, diplomats, and military men. Ordinary citizens, as already mentioned, are evacuated, to put it mildly, with difficulties.
There are already many videos from Kabul airport showing the scale of what is happening.
Another Saigon moment: chaotic scenes at Kabul International Airport. No security. None. pic.twitter.com/6BuXqBTHWk— Saad Mohseni (@saadmohseni) August 15, 2021
Against this background, over 60 countries of the world urged to provide to residents of Afghanistan and foreigners the opportunity to safely leave the territory of the country.
A joint statement signed among others by Australia, Britain, Germany, Italy, France, Japan, said that "those in positions of power and authority across Afghanistan bear responsibility – and accountability – for the protection of human life and property, and for the immediate restoration of security and civil order. "
The signatory countries believe Afghans "deserve to live in security and dignity."
"As a woman, I feel like I am the victim of this political war that men started. I felt like I can no longer laugh out loud, I can no longer listen to my favourite songs, I can no longer meet my friends in our favourite cafe, I can no longer wear my favourite yellow dress or pink lipstick. And I can no longer go to my job or finish the university degree that I worked for years to achieve," The Guardian cited a 24 year old student of Kabul.
“I am in big shock,” said Zahra, a round-faced, soft-spoken young woman. “How can it be possible for me as a woman who has worked so hard and tried to learn and advance, to now have to hide myself and stay at home?”