September 3, 2021 | OPINION | By Mahnoor Rehman | Photo by Isaac Yee
In the past few weeks, the world has witnessed one of the most rapidly consequential political changes in the world: the return of Taliban rule to Afghanistan.
An important aspect to consider in this timeline is the presence of the U.S. government’s forces and how their decisions and practices have impacted the region. The U.S. has maintained a military presence in Afghanistan since the Sept. 11 terrorist attack to fight against Al-Qaeda and “global terror.”
Although many might argue that the intervention has led to some form of development and political freedom for the people of Afghanistan, the land is once again in the hands of the Taliban, whose regime has been widely criticized for its brutal laws and oppressive punishments.
This is not the first time Afghanistan has been under the control of the Taliban. Before the U.S. intervention, the Taliban imposed a radical interpretation of “Islamic Law” in the country between 1996-2001. Although leaders of the regime have promised peace, safety, and security, there is distress and anxiety regarding the new rule of law. A series of misogynistic laws were practiced previously under the rule of the Taliban and hence there are special concerns about women’s rights regarding education and work.
While historically the land of Afghanistan has been invaded by a number of regimes, U.S. intervention stands apart, due to its long-lasting consequences. More specifically, it is wise to examine the impact of the U.S. withdrawal of its military troops on the collapse of the Afghan government.
Negotiation talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government were largely unsuccessful. There was not much optimism regarding a solution to the conflict from either side, and to make matters worse, the United States decided to withdraw forces. The Taliban began to launch more attacks on Afghan cities, eventually capturing the capital of Kabul and causing ex-President Ashraf Ghani to flee the country. Even still, the Biden administration stayed committed to withdrawing its troops from the country to supposedly “end” the war.
With that being said, there is heated political debate about U.S. intervention and “peacekeeping” missions that allow its forces to become the world’s most crucial supervisor and police. Are the interventions justified? If so, is there a limit to how long such interventions are justified? What was the main aim of the intervention and was the U.S. successful in achieving that aim? These are some of the questions that will remain relevant in U.S. history when considering such scenarios.
With people fleeing the country in groups of thousands and trying to find refuge, it is hard to say if the war has ended or another one has begun. Simply put, it is a challenging and tragic condition for millions of Afghans whose lives have been compromised as a result of multiple wars and political conflicts in the region.