Afghanistan a year later: what has changed in Kabul since the return of the Taliban

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A year has passed since the fall of Kabul: on 15 August 2021 the Taliban, after an offensive lasting months during the withdrawal of NATO contingents in the country, entered the capital of Afghanistan and restored the Islamic Emirate. Thus, almost twenty years after the start of the post-September 11 war, the “cemetery of the Empires” has returned to the control of the same group that had already governed the country from 1996 to 2001. And the lives of over 40 million Afghans has changed drastically, after more than 15 years of republican government (THE SPECIAL OF SKY TG24).

The return of the Emirate and international isolation

The Taliban had already been in government of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001: they came to power after the withdrawal of Soviet troops from the country – which took place in 1989 – exploiting the political instability and civil conflict that followed. They imposed an extremist version of Islamic law, but it was short-lived: in 2001, after the attack on the Twin Towers and the war in Afghanistan, the Emirate was replaced by a republic. The withdrawal of the NATO contingent, which took place almost twenty years after the invasion, however, allowed the Taliban to return to power. And the effects have been shattering: democracy, under whose banner an entire generation of Afghans has grown, is over. In its place, the Islamic Emirate was reborn. An event that has not only turned the hand of history back twenty years, but transformed Afghanistan into a pariah state. In fact, no other country recognizes the government of Kabul, while the links with the ancient allies have been exposed by the killing at the hands of the American in Kabul of Ayman Al-Zawahiri, leader of Al-Qaeda

The rights denied to women

And to pay the highest price were women, who have lost almost all the civil rights won in the previous two decades: girls over the age of 12 cannot go to school, while the strict restrictions on gender segregation in universities they have severely curtailed the chances for many young women to pursue meaningful university education. Many jobs outside of health and education are prohibited, are required to cover their faces in public, and must be accompanied by a guardian – male – to travel. Last September, the Taliban government abolished the Ministry for Women, replacing it with the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice. To tell this picture Gianluca Ales spoke with some of them, in the report you can see below.

A generation on the run

The loss of civil rights guaranteed by democracy has affected not only women but the entire Afghan population. And among the educated young people who grew up in a country that is profoundly different from that of today, there are many who have chosen to flee Afghanistan. Not only through the US airlift, which allowed evacuation from Kabul until the end of August last year, but using every means to get out of the country. A desperation also moved by the Taliban’s decision to target and kill professionals from the media, civil society and the government in years of guerrilla warfare. And although the feared “witch hunt” in Kabul did not occur, many people who had worked for the occupation forces and were unable to leave Afghanistan have paid the price for their work with their lives.
Carola Dinisio spoke to three Afghans who managed to flee to Italy, in the report you can see below.

Chiara Piotto instead interviewed some people who fled from Afghanistan to France: you can listen to their words in the report below.

The economic and humanitarian crisis

However, it is not only the loss of civil rights that plagues Afghanistan: the return to power of the Taliban has also brought with it a very serious economic crisis. The country’s gross domestic product collapsed by at least one third, following international isolation from trade. Western aid provided to the previous regime eventually ran out as the Taliban struggled to transform itself from an armed rebel force into an efficient government. “They are losing internal support, and they are aware of it,” said an Afghan analyst al Guardian. And the economic crisis is joined by a humanitarian one: millions of citizens are grappling with the lack of food, fueled by the loss of purchasing power, the lack of money and the increase in the cost of food. And the loss of press freedom – with many closed media and journalists leaving the country – has deprived Afghans of their right to information as well.

A hungry country

Of the crises mentioned above, however, the one that is hitting citizens most hard is the lack of food. Since the Taliban took power, the cost of wheat has risen by nearly 50%. Afghanistan is grappling with a gigantic food crisis: 23 million people have had problems finding food in recent months, including 14 million children. And to make an already extreme scenario even more difficult, there is also the drought: it is the worst that has ever hit the country, a climate crisis that is making the food crisis even more serious.

Gianluca Ales told what is happening in Afghanistan, in the report you can see below.

Among the sources for this article are:

Human Rights Watch – Amnesty International – Save The Children – The Guardian