One year before the Taliban occupation of Afghanistan

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One year before the Taliban occupation of Afghanistan

August 16, 2022

As India celebrates its 75th anniversary of independence on August 15, neighboring Afghanistan celebrates the first anniversary of the second coming of the Taliban.

On this day last year, following the withdrawal of US troops, the Taliban seized power and shrouded the country in a dark cloak of oppressive obscurantism. The day leaves Afghans with much to desire, not to celebrate. Today, half of the population lives below the poverty line. Even the foreign aid that helped feed millions vanished after the war began in Ukraine and the West found a new villain in Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Hardly a promise made by the Taliban to restore civil liberties from their brutal rule in the 1990s – in order to gain international recognition – has so far come true. Afghanistan’s economy is expected to shrink by more than 20%, in part because women have been phased out of the workforce following the reintroduction of the strictest interpretation of Sharia. A recent demonstration by a small group of brave women demanding bread, jobs and freedom was brutally suppressed in Kabul.

The internal security situation in the countryside is a mess, as the trigger-happy Taliban militias only believe in the law of the jungle. Trained civil servants were eliminated by the hundreds, depriving the administration of its qualified manpower. Dozens of journalists were also shot dead. Perhaps the only successful business is terror, another Taliban commitment to controlling it. The recent assassination of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a Kabul safe house owned by an aide to the Haqqani brothers – who are part of the Taliban government – showed how intertwined the roots of the terror groups are.

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Michael A. Bynum