Who are the Taliban and what's happening in Afghanistan? Explained

What is happening in Afghanistan: With President Ashraf Ghani unexpectedly abandoning his country, Afghanistan’s fate becomes as clear as day. While women and children are running for safety, prayers are pouring in from across the globe wanting to see a better future for the Afghans. Up until recently, the Afghan Army was locking horns with the Taliban fighters. However, the latter is visibly overpowering the former with the capture of each province, including the capital Kabul. The pace of the Taliban’s nearly complete takeover of Afghanistan is unexpected, as felt by US President Joe Biden and other US Officials.

But, where does the problem arise from? Who are the Taliban? Why are they after Afghanistan? What are their plans after gaining complete control? Here’s a brief look at what transpired over the years that resulted in a war-like state in Afghanistan.

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Who are the Taliban?

Ironically, the terror group Taliban derives its name from the word ‘students’ and they first started to take form in the 1990s in Northern Pakistan, shortly after the Soviets returned from Afghanistan. It is a religious group that also goes by the name Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. As opposed to their predominantly known image, the Taliban actually claim to be aiming to “restore peace and security and enforce their own austere version of Sharia, or Islamic law, once in power”. Even as they continue to seize provinces in Afghanistan, the Taliban continue to claim that they won’t take anyone “by force”.

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What do they want from Afghanistan?

This is not the first time Afghanistan is terrorized by the Taliban. Several pieces of literature are proof that Afghans continue to tell the story of the aftermath caused by the Taliban back in 1996, when they captured the Afghan capital, Kabul, overthrowing the regime of President Burhanuddin Rabbani. Taliban also introduced or supported punishments in line with their strict interpretation of Sharia law – such as public executions of convicted murderers and adulterers, and amputations for those found guilty of theft. Men were required to grow beards and women had to wear the all-covering burka.

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Who are the Taliban and what's happening in Afghanistan? Explained

A Taliban fighter stands guard over surrendered Afghan security member forces in the city of Ghazni, southwest of Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Aug. 13, 2021.

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More than two decades later today, the Taliban is again seizing vast swathes of territory, threatening to once again topple a government in Kabul in the wake of a foreign power withdrawing. However, in many cases, the Taliban have been able to take over major cities without a fight, as government forces surrendered to avoid civilian casualties.

How is the US a part of all this?

The attention of the world was drawn to the Taliban in Afghanistan in the wake of the 11 September 2001 World Trade Center attacks in New York. The Taliban were accused of providing a sanctuary for the prime suspects – Osama Bin Laden and his al-Qaeda movement.

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Naturally, America and the terror group never saw eye-to-eye. This changed in 2018, when the US and Taliban actually signed a peace deal, and signed one again in February last year. However, the Taliban have continued to kill Afghan security forces and civilians in 2021.

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Who are the Taliban and what's happening in Afghanistan? Explained

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Taliban fighters patrol inside the city of Kandahar, southwest Afghanistan, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021.

 

Despite grave concerns from Afghan officials over the government’s vulnerability to the Taliban without international support, the new US president, Joe Biden, announced in April 2021 that all American forces would leave the country by 11 September – two decades to the day since the felling of the World Trade Center.

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