Formed in 1994, the Taliban consists of former Afghan resistance fighters, who opposed the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s. After the withdrawal of Russian troops, the Taliban took control of Afghanistan and implemented their radical, religious ideology on their society. Following the 9/11 attacks of 2001, carried out by Al Qaeda, the United States and allied countries invaded Afghanistan as they believed the mastermind of the attacks were harboured in Afghanistan. Consequently, in a short period, they brought an end to the Taliban rule. In the past 20 years, there was a prolonged war between the Taliban and the US/allied forces. However, following the election of President Biden, as of August 30th this year, the US withdrew their military from Afghanistan. Taking this opportunity, the Taliban rapidly retook Afghanistan and rose to power.
As a result of the Taliban taking control of Afghanistan, I fear that women’s rights are at great risk. As in the previous Taliban rule, and their current implementation in the early stages of their arrival, women are not heard or seen. They are ‘meant to be invisible’. They are stripped from their rights. Women are controlled by men, shadowed by men, nonexistent without men. Afghan women are dominated by the men around them: their fathers, their husbands, and the Taliban. Women are oppressed: they are not allowed to work, go out outside on their own and dress freely. In families with no men, women have no means of surviving on their own. Since 1988, girls above the age of eight were forbidden from access to education. Many women- who stood up for themselves and their rights- were either abused, slaughtered, jailed or silenced, such as noble-prize winner Malala Yousfzai. Women were also provided with minimal healthcare and were deprived of their childhood. Furthermore, 2014 studies show that 80% of all suicides, in Afghanistan, were committed by women. Although gender inequality in the rest of the world still exists, the situation in Afghanistan is utterly outrageous, disrespectful and unacceptable in modern society.
The return to power of the oppressive Taliban regime is likely to introduce many problems for other countries. For example, recent events have already caused an increase of refugees (from Afghanistan) entering Europe and other neighbouring nations. After the withdrawal of America, people such as the Afghanistan Women’s National Football Team fled the country as they feared their lives were in danger. Figures show that there are 2.5 million Afghan UNHCR-registered refugees as of 2021, where the majority entered Pakistan and Iran.
During their previous rule, extremist terrorist groups found support and a haven from the Taliban. Notably, Al-Qaeda used Afghanistan as the headquarters of their terrorist organisation and used drug money to support their mission. There are fears that the extremist groups will flourish once again under the Taliban rule, which may cause instability and security threats both regionally and globally. Recent bombings and events indicate a surge in ISIS activities within the country.
The economy of Afghanistan strongly depends on drugs as a source of income. The Taliban allegedly grows and sells narcotic drugs, like cocaine, marijuana and heroin. Consequently, there will be a drastic increase in drug intake and intoxication within Afghanistan and internationally.
Some blame the sudden US withdrawal for all the risk Taliban brings. However, during the US occupation, thousands have died in Afghanistan from both sides. It seemed like an endless battle, one which would never end. One which needed to stop. However, the European and neighbouring countries are deeply concerned about the new influx of refugees from Afghanistan (and there is a fear of terrorism). After seeing the humanitarian crisis created, the world questions the validity of the disengagement. The US has concerns they may be targeted; it is feared that Afghanistan may be used again as a terrorist hub and training ground. Taliban officials stated to be aiming at establishing a strict Sharia law and that they pose no threat to any other countries. They have reassured that Afghanistan will not be used as a base for attacks against the US or its allies. However, analysts disagree. Many say that the Taliban and al-Qaeda have similar ideologies, with al-Qaeda and ISIS fighters are heavily embedded in Afghanistan. They fear it might end as it did 20 years ago.
In conclusion, the Taliban should be feared. The consequences of such a withdrawal may lead to long-term effects across the world. I believe that the US administration felt the responsibility to its people to stop the bloodshed and bring the soldiers home. However, the unexpected turn of events has sparked different opinions throughout the world and within the alliance. Although it is still at an early stage of Taliban rule, the initial actions of the Taliban will have the gravest impact on the future of the girls and women of the country who are already in a disadvantaged position within Afghanistan society.