It was a turbulent year for Afghanistan and its people. From the withdrawal and evacuation of the West to the Taliban seizure of power: a look back at the tumultuous events of 2021.
Chaos as America’s longest war ends
The United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 and the rise of the Taliban across the country, which eventually led to the capture of Kabul, was epitomized by the chaotic scenes at the capital’s airport as tens of thousands of desperate civilians tried to flee. from the country.
The speed of the Taliban’s advance through Afghanistan in August caught both the Afghan government and its Western allies by surprise. The Taliban takeover came almost as soon as foreign forces began to withdraw, and nearly 20 years after US forces first deposed the group in 2001.
In April, the president of the United States, Joe Biden, finally declared that the two decades of war were over.
“I came to the conclusion that it is time to end America’s longest war. It is time for American troops to return home,” Biden declared.
‘The war on terror’: a distant memory
The September 11 attacks in New York and Washington, which killed nearly 3,000 people, prompted the United States and its allies to invade Afghanistan. Officials identified the Islamist group al-Qaeda and its leader Osama Bin Laden as responsible. Bin Laden was operating in Afghanistan.
US forces quickly intervened to topple the Taliban, and Washington vowed to support democracy and eradicate the terrorist threat. The resulting conflict killed tens of thousands of people. Millions more would be displaced. Of the victims, it was the Afghans who paid the highest price.
Chaos in Kabul
During two chaotic weeks in August this year, the West managed to evacuate more than 100,000 Afghans from Hamid Karzai airport. Among the tens of thousands rescued were those who had worked with the United States and its NATO allies, as translators and other key workers.
Of remarkable scale, the evacuation was the largest since the Berlin Blockade in 1949. But many of those who were at risk of retaliation from the Taliban were left behind, and questions remain as to why more was not done sooner.
Amid the chaos and panic, some 200 people, including 13 US soldiers, would also lose their lives. Killed after an ISIS-K suicide bomb ripped through crowds gathering at Abbey Gate.
Afghanistan returns to the dark ages
Afghanistan is now back in the hands of the Taliban and women face an uncertain future. Despite the group’s assurances that he would not rule the country as he had previously, the country’s girls are still excluded from secondary school. A recent United Nations report claimed that the country will plunge into a greater economic crisis if it continues to exclude women from the workplace.
More worrisome, however, is Afghanistan’s march toward starvation since the Taliban took control. Experts say that more than half the population is at risk of acute food insecurity this winter.
Deprived of international aid due to the West’s refusal to recognize the legitimacy of its new rulers, the UN World Food Program recently warned that the country faces “the worst humanitarian disaster on Earth.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism