The Future for the Afghanistan People


Kabul Airport was the stage for the first act of terrorism following the removal of American troops from Afghanistan. Credit: “Welcome to Afghanistan, Kabul Airport” by Carl Montgomery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Kate Stout, Editor In Chief

The Taliban is beginning to establish an official government, making the effects of America’s retreat on the Afghanistan people apparent.

An incident at Kabul airport on August 26th, where a suicide bombing took place, claiming the lives of 13 American soldiers, shows the immediate destabilizing effect of taking away American authority. An act of terrorism like this is concerning, especially considering stopping terrorism was what first brought the United States to Afghanistan twenty years ago.

ISIS, or the Islamic State, which is classified by the United Nations as a terrorist organization, has claimed responsibility for the bombing. Meaning what happened at Kabul airport can officially be considered a terrorist attack, though the airport is now functional again. President Joe Biden spoke about it.

“To those who carried out this attack, as well as anyone who wishes America harm, know this: We will not forgive,” Biden said. “We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay.”

In addition to the airport bombing, several other instances of terrorism have occurred. However, they were roadside bombings that targeted Taliban fighters from rival factions, not Americans.

Fear of what Afghanistan has become led some Afghanistan people to cling to the wheels of American planes to escape the country in the weeks before the Kabul airport bombing before the Taliban could fully take over. Footage of one man – Fada Mohammad – went viral. Mohammad was seeking refuge in North American, but he fell from the plane to his death.

Many other Afghanistan citizens have been trying to seek refuge in other countries, with some success. Recently, the Afghanistan girls’ soccer team managed to flee to Portugal. With many of them harboring dreams unimaginable under Taliban rule, asylum in Portugal means the preservation of their dreams.

Thousands of people have also made their way to the United States, creating small villages near military bases as a temporary place to live before finding long term accommodation.

Liberty Village is the name of one of these towns, located just outside of New Jersey, where many air-conditioned tents house huge families. Currently, about 8,500 people are living at the base and the New York Times cited that for some families it may be another year until they get to leave.

For the people that did not make it out of Afghanistan, the new government is giving the Afghanistan people very mixed signals. One moment women are being invited back to work, the next women are being killed in their own homes for their beliefs.

A CNN news story from August 18th reported on the death of a woman named Najia. After refusing to cook for Taliban men three times, she was solicited again, and when she did not comply, she was beaten to death. Afterwards, the soldiers threw a grenade into her home and burned it down.

The negative impact of the American retreat on the people – especially the women – of Afghanistan cannot be overstated. Over 34 million people live in Afghanistan, most of which are only normal civilians.

Afghanistan announced its temporary all male government in early September, a group full of controversial older Taliban members. One of which – Sirajuddin Haqqani – is on the FBI most wanted list, complete with a five-million-dollar bounty.

Many veterans who served in Afghanistan are also concerned for the people they have left behind. In an essay for Vox, veteran turned nurse practitioner and writer Jackie Munn talked about her experiences in Afghanistan over the course of ten months in 2012, including directing women to safe areas to receive maternal care.

“I’ve found myself cycling through various stages of grief: disbelief that the Taliban rose so quickly, anger in our nation’s lack of coordinated efforts to rescue and aid our Afghan allies, and depression at feeling like I’m too far away to actually effect change,” Munn wrote.

Munn’s anguish at seeing the women she helped – and their children now living under Taliban rule – reflects the feelings of many who have seen this retreat as a reversal of twenty years of hard-won change for Afghanistan.

Others, feel that the United States had no choice but to finally free itself of the obligation of Afghanistan and focus on its own domestic issues. Either way, with American troops gone and a new government underway, it is time to see what will come of Afghanistan now that twenty years of fighting have come to an end.