Political Issue of the Issue: Taliban’s rise to power in Kabul causes mass evacuations

August 15, the Taliban overtook Afghanistan capital Kabul and presidential palace only hours after President Ghani left the country. August 26, an attack on the Kabul airport killed 60 Afghans and 13 US troops and left hundreds more injured. One Navy medic, 11 Marines and another service member were killed, leaving many other service members injured. Terror group ISIS-K has taken responsibility for these fatal attacks.

However, the August 15 uprising is not the first time the Taliban has taken control over Afghanistan. From 1996 to 2001, under the Taliban’s rule, women and girls were barred from education and hidden from the public. Violence was demonstrated in brutal punishments which included public executions and cutting the hands of thieves.

Some argue that the Taliban’s rise to control was succeeded by America’s upcoming withdrawal deadline. American troops had been stationed in Afghanistan since the weeks after Al Qaeda’s attack on America, September 11, 2001. Talks of peace began in 2019, but the US and Taliban’s Path to Peace deal was not signed until February 2020, stating that all US troops shall be withdrawn by May 1, 2021. By November 2020, the acting US Secretary of Defense announced plans to reduce the amount of US troops in Afghanistan to 2,500 by January 2021.

April 2021, President Biden declared the US withdrawal would not meet its deadline, instead being complete by September 11, 2021, two decades after 9/11.

Afghan residents feared a rollback in women’s rights as well as increased violence in the country, as seen in the late ‘90s, resulting in mass emigrations.

Since the Taliban’s overrun, thousands of people have evacuated Afghanistan, leaving for continents such as North America, Europe and Australia. Additionally, tens of thousands of evacuees are expected to arrive in various countries in the coming weeks, including roughly 10,000 at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin alone.

Although thousands of refugees have evaded Afghanistan, the evacuation process was not easy. Many at-risk Afghans, most being women, activists and journalists, found difficulty making it onto evacuation lists or traveling to the airport. Women traveling from afar took precautions such as covering up by wearing burqas or leaving mobile phones behind, for fear of being on the Taliban’s radar. As if traveling to the airport in Kabul wasn’t hard enough, evacuees were met with huge crowds and Taliban patrols.