Kabul Takeover: Sovereignty or Crisis Unfolding

Published: 2023/07/06 Number of words: 1155


Two decades after being driven out of Kabul by U.S forces, Taliban militants have retaken control over Afghanistan’s capital. Initially, the Taliban had its grip on the city and used it as a centre for military activities. However, in 2001, Osama Bin Laden’s coordinated attacks on the World Trade Center towers resulted in the death of two thousand seven hundred people (Julia, 2021). A swift response would follow, as the U.S troops and allied forces drove the Taliban out of Kabul. Since May 2021, the Mujahideens are re-writing history by re-living a moment they experienced in 1996 when they first took over Kabul (Julia, 2021). While the takeover may seem like a springboard to a new dawn of sovereignty for the Taliban, crises looms. Against this backdrop, the current paper evaluates the adverse impacts of the ongoing Taliban takeover of Kabul while discussing the U.S exit, women’s plight, and implications on refugees are discussed.

The U.S Exit

Taliban leaders struck an agreement with the U.S government to the effect of withdrawal of United States troops from Afghanistan. Therefore, the end of U.S involvement in major operations and sectors of Kabul’s economy came to an end after two decades following the 9/11 attack. While the decision for the U.S to invade Afghanistan was a matter of national security, its role in Kabul transcended a security response. Initially, the United States’ invasion of Afghanistan was in retaliation to Bin Laden-led attack on the U.S. However, to foster stability, the U.S forces and NATO assisted Afghan forces to wage repulsive attacks on the Taliban.

Taliban rule needed control because it provided a safe harbour for Osama Bin Laden to carry out terrorist operations under his terror group, Al Qaeda. By 2011, there were one hundred thousand United States soldiers and military officials in Afghanistan (Julia, 2021). The number of U.S forces only begun reducing in 2014 when the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) became stronger. Moreover, since 2001, there has been over two thousand four hundred U.S military deaths and over twenty thousand U.S military casualties (Julia, 2021). With the exit of the U.S troops, the possibility that the Taliban will resume operations against which the U.S fought cannot be overruled.

While in Afghanistan, the U.S provided security and civilian assistance, for example, financial support to ANDSF (Thomas, 2018). In 2019, the international security to which the U.S belongs to provided nearly five billion United States dollars to ANDSF (Julia, 2021). On the other hand, in 2020, at the Afghanistan 2020 conference, the United States pledged six hundred million United States dollars towards the peace process. Most developmental assistance led by the United States aimed at fostering peace, independence, and stability. It remains to be seen whether the U.S will continue supporting Afghanistan. However, oversight will be compromised because the U.S will not be directly involved.

Women’s Plight

In 1996, Taliban rule gave a glimpse of what it would look like heading into the future. Specifically, declaring an Islamic Emirate, the Taliban forced tough Quran interpretation and practised public brutality towards upholding the Islamic ideals as they perceived (Jackson and Weigand, 2019). For example, the terror rule of the Taliban was characterized by floggings, amputations, and murder (Eric, 2021). Women had a tougher experience than men because their roles were curtailed and they were denied educational opportunities (Eric, 2021). The return of the Taliban threatens a return of practices that allied forces fought hard to stop. Women living in Afghanistan are faced with the reality of past slavery and most of them are opting to flee. Their predicaments are eminent presently, as fleeing has become difficult, especially for the poor. According to Eric (2021), Afghan women are being forced into marriages.

Implication on Refugees

In fear of Taliban rule, many Afghans, especially those associated with the U.S and NATO desire to leave in order to avoid retribution. According to a report by UNHCR released on August 27th, over five hundred thousand Afghans will possibly leave the country by the end of the year (Eric, 2021). The mass exodus witnessed in Afghanistan has been fueled by severe drought, COVID-19, increasing domestic conflicts, economic meltdown, and the recent Taliban takeover. More Afghans are now internally displaced as they try to find safety. From August 2014, over one hundred and thirteen thousand people, mostly Afghans have moved out of the country through Kabul Airport. Even as many people succeed in fleeing the Taliban rule, many are left behind, their fate unknown, and likely to be determined by the Taliban regime.

NATO and U.S forces claim that the Taliban government has given assurances over the safety of Afghans who worked with the United States. Eric (2021) asserts that a Taliban spokesperson claimed that Afghans who have passports or VISAs will be allowed to leave the country peacefully upon resumption of commercial flights. These come amidst the pledge by the Taliban government that aims to avoid reprisals. However, emerging reports from various parts of the country point to home searching, detention, and mass execution (Eric, 2021). With fears of a brutal Taliban regime on the rise, it remains unclear where people fleeing from Afghanistan will find safety.


In summary, the Taliban’s recapture of Kabul is designed to paint a picture of a desire for sovereignty and winning global trust. To this end, since the takeover in May, the Taliban has demonstrated some level of civilization. However, there have been reports of brutality and intimidation, which questions the real intention of the unprecedented turn of events. What is certain, however, is that the U.S withdrawal reduces security in Afghanistan and it is not clear whether the 2001 Osama-led Al Qaeda will suffice. Moreover, the return of the Taliban threatens the new order of life among Islamic women because it is not known whether their roles will be curtailed once more. Finally, the Taliban takeover is likely to increase the number of Afghan refugees as people desire to flee from what promises to be a regime of harshness (Eric, 2021). Unfortunately, since the completion of U.S and NATO troops evacuations, it is unclear if everyone fleeing for safety will be successful in their quest, further pointing to an unfolding crisis.


Eric, N. (2021). Who are the Taliban, and what do they want? New York Times.  https://www.nytimes.com/article/who-are-the-taliban.html

Eric, R. (2021). The shrinking options for Afghans escaping Taliban rule. The New Humanitarian. https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/analysis/2021/8/30/Afghan-refugees-escape-Taliban-rule

Jackson, A., & Weigand, F. (2019). The Taliban’s war for legitimacy in Afghanistan. Current History, 118(807), 143-148.

Julia, H. (2021). Who are the Taliban and how did they take control over Afghanistan so swiftly? CNN. https://edition.cnn.com/2021/08/16/middleeast/taliban-control-afghanistan-explained-intl-hnk/index.html

Thomas, C. (2018). Afghanistan: background and US policy. Congressional Research Service, 10.

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