Afghanistan Has Changed a Lot Since the Fall of Kabul

It has been a month since Kabul fell to the Taliban. During this time, people’s lifestyles have changed dramatically. With the fall of the previous government, citizens fled the country, taking refuge in the western countries using the evacuation process. Now that the Taliban have taken full control of the country, a large number of civilians are still scrambling to illegally leave Afghanistan.

The Taliban have repeatedly asked people to stop leaving the country, but so far these requests have not been answered. Furthermore, public service is not available and most public staff have not yet returned to work.

Meanwhile, women’s lives have changed unimaginably. The Taliban, with the exception of female employees in the ministries of public health and education, did not allow women employees to continue working. The Taliban, however, have taken steps to resume education and reopen schools and universities on the condition that girls and boys separate. The end to the co-education system in Afghanistan has drawn criticism from civil rights defenders and even ordinary people. Apart from this, the Taliban have announced an all-male government, excluding non-Taliban and people from non-Pashtun communities. The announcement of this cabinet caused concern among the international community and the country’s politicians. They did not consider the cabinet to be inclusive and warned that one-ethnic politics in Afghanistan were doomed to failure.

A Quick Victory

On August 15, Taliban fighters besieged Kabul and seized power without a fight. Although before the Taliban arrived in Kabul, former President Ashraf Ghani had scheduled to hand over power to the Taliban in an official ceremony, he and his close associates fled Kabul, creating a power vacuum in the country. The security forces were not operating that day – a number of them reportedly misused the name of the Taliban to create chaos in the cities. Taliban forces were supposed to stay behind the gates of Kabul and not enter the city until formalities were taking place, but they ordered their forces to enter Kabul. Taliban forces entered Kabul on Sunday evening, August 15, and officially took control of the city.

Coinciding with the arrival of the Taliban, Abdullah Abdullah released a video confirming the now-former president Ghani’s escape, saying that he had formed a “Coordination Council” in cooperation with former president Hamid Karzai and Hekmatyar to fill the power vacuum. The purpose of the council was to prevent chaos, reduce the suffering of the people, and better manage matters related to the peaceful transfer of power.

One day after Ghani fled the country, the Russian embassy in Kabul claimed that the former president had taken four cars and a helicopter full of cash while leaving Afghanistan. This claim was rejected by the fugitive president. He said in a video that the reason for fleeing Afghanistan was to prevent bloodshed and the destruction of the city. He also denied stealing $ 169 million. Ghani is now a refugee in the UAE and has admitted that his government failed in politics. He did not accept the defeat of security forces in the fight against the Taliban.

Meanwhile, Amrullah Saleh, the former first vice president, declared himself as a caretaker president on Tuesday, August 17, tweeting: “The first deputy will be the caretaker president.” He emphasized that he is inside the country and is the legal and legitimate head of the chair of the presidency. According to him, he was consulting with all sides in the country to strengthen his position.

The First Press Conference of Zabihullah Mujahid

On Tuesday, August 18, only two days after the fall of Kabul, Zabihullah Mujahid made his first appearance at a news conference, announcing the end of the war in Afghanistan. Mujahid was speaking of forming a comprehensive government and assured that everyone would participate in their future government. Mujahid also said in response to reporters’ questions about women’s participation in government that women are an important part of the society and that their participations are based on the Islamic principles.

Zabihullah Mujahid appears in the media for the first time. He has been a Taliban spokesman for the past 20 years, but no pictures of him have been released. Photo by Khalil Rasouli, 8 Subh reporter

In the press conference, Zabihullah Mujahid assured people that the Taliban are protecting civilians lives and property against any opportunistic aggression. He added that the future government needs the support of the international community to eradicate opium cultivation, fight drug trafficking, and develop the country. He called on the international community to work with the future government in Afghanistan.

On the other hand, with the new developments and order in Afghanistan, foreign troops began to evacuate their Afghan allies. The United States, which led the process, said it had evacuated about 123,000 Afghan nationals. As the evacuation process began. Large numbers of citizens gathered behind in Kabul airport, trying to seize the opportunity and leave Afghanistan. Dozens were reportedly killed and injured in the process. Also, three people who had clung themselves to the plane fell to the ground and died.

At the same time, the British and American intelligence agencies warned of an attack by the Islamic State in Khurasan Province (IS-KP) on Kabul airport and called on the people to leave the airport immediately. On Thursday evening, two explosions took place at one of the entrances to Kabul Airport and Camp Baron near the airport in the crowd.

According to officials, 170 people were killed and nearly 200 were injured in the blast. This includes 13 US troops. The day after the blast, the Americans announced that they had targeted a car full of explosives on the road to Kabul airport and killed a member of the IS-KP. The attack took place in a residential house, killing nine members of a family. The Wall Street Journal, CNN, and the New York Times later reported that civilians were targeted in the attack, killing almost all members of a family.

People gather at Kabul airport hoping to leave the country – picture from social media

The Final Withdrawal of US Troops

Following the possible attacks by IS-KP, the US and its NATO allies halted the evacuation process. The United States was the last country to leave Afghanistan. The last US military plane left Kabul airport for the United States on Monday midnight, September 30. Thus ended the 20-year US war in Afghanistan. The Taliban greeted the withdrawal of the last US troops from Afghanistan with joyful firing, calling the moment historic.

US forces destroyed the radar system at Kabul airport and damaged many equipment, including military helicopters. Zabihullah Mujahid said the US forces had damaged the Afghan economy by millions of dollars. However, international flights to Afghanistan were suspended due to a malfunctioning radar system and a lack of air traffic control. The Taliban recently asked Qatar and Turkey for help in taking control of the airport. So far, only planes from Qatar, Pakistan, and Iran have had some flights. The Taliban have assured that international flights will resume soon.

According to Centcom, the US Central Command, Chris Donahue, commander of the 82nd Airborne Corps of the US Army, was the last US soldier to leave Kabul at midnight, August 30.

The Formation of the National Resistance Front (NRF)

The National Resistance Front (NRF) led by Ahmad Massoud was formed in Panjshir. Massoud warned the Taliban that it would continue fighting against them to form an inclusive government. Although the two sides began negotiations to reach an agreement, the talks apparently failed and the Taliban attacked the NRF forces in Panjshir.

Following the Taliban’s offensive in Panjshir, the Resistance Front also retaliated, causing heavy casualties on both sides. The exact number of casualties on both sides has not been determined yet. After a few days of fierce fighting, the Taliban advanced into Panjshir, killing well-known figures such as Fahim Dashti and General Abdul Wadud Zereh, a close associate of Massoud. After the incident, Ahmad Massoud called for a public uprising against the Taliban. He called on the people to rise up against the Taliban by any means possible.

Talks between the Taliban and the National Resistance Front (NRF) in Parwan – Photo from the Facebook page of Mohammad Alam Izadyar

The ISI Director met the Taliban in Kabul

On Monday, September 6, the Taliban entered Panjshir and claimed to have control over the entire valley. This news, however, was rejected by the National Resistance Front. The NRF, however, said it would continue its fight against a Taliban totalitarianism. There were also reports of Pakistani military intervention in the Panjshir war.

The news was denied by the Taliban and Pakistan. The fighting escalated as General Faiz Hamid, the General Director of the Pakistani intelligence service (ISI), arrived in Kabul on Saturday. He has allegedly visited Afghanistan after receiving invitation by the Taliban. Many details of Feyz Hamid’s conversations and meetings have not been reported in the media. The Taliban say they have talked over border issues. According to Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, Pakistan has offered to help Afghanistan secure Kabul airport. A short video of Feyz Hamid’s speech recorded at the Kabul Serena Hotel has been released. “Don’t worry, everything will be fine,” he told the reporter in the video. According to Pakistani media, Faiza Hamid’s trip to Kabul was for only one day.

An All-Male Government

With the development in Panjshir, the Taliban announced their government. The announcement of the cabinet, however, provoked serious protests. The new Taliban cabinet consists of 33 people. Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund has been appointed as the caretaker Prime Minister.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and Mullah Abdul Salam Hanafi will serve as Hassan’s deputies. Mawlawi Mohammad Yaqub Mujahid, son of Mullah Omar, has been appointed by the Taliban as acting head of the Ministry of Defense, Sirajuddin Haqqani as acting head of the Ministry of Interior affairs, and Amir Khan Muttaqi as acting Minister of Foreign Affairs. Similarly, Mullah Hedayatullah Badri as the head of the Ministry of Finance, Sheikh Mawlawi Noorullah Munir as the head of the Ministry of Education, Mullah Khairullah Khairkhah as the head of the Ministry of Information and Culture, Qari Din Mohammad Hanif as the head of the Ministry of Economy, Sheikh Noor Mohammad Saqib as the head of the Ministry of Hajj and Endowments, and Abdul Hakim Sharie has been appointed as the head of the Ministry of Justice, so on and so forth.

The announcement of the cabinet by the Taliban provoked complicated reactions from countries. A number of countries, with the exception of Pakistan, did not consider the Taliban cabinet to be inclusive. The United States has expressed concern over the formation of such a cabinet, saying that the prime ministers include those who have been under sanctions and persecution for years.

The country’s political leaders also criticized the cabinet’s announcement, calling it a “monopoly of power” and a “one-ethnic policy.” They warned that a one-ethnic politics is doomed to failure. The National Resistance Front, led by Ahmad Massoud, also reacted to the announcement by the Taliban-led cabinet, saying it would announce the structure of a “democratic and accountable transitional government” soon after consulting with political figures and cadres. The NRF called the formation of a caretaker cabinet by the Taliban “illegal and a clear symbol of their hostility to the people.” This front encouraged the people to resist the Taliban and called the new government a threat to the stability of Afghanistan, the region and the world.

People in Kabul and Several Other Cities Protested

Three days after the Taliban entered Kabul, a number of women in Kabul protested and demanded their rights in all spheres, while proposing the trial of Ashraf Ghani. In the cabinet, which is announced by the Taliban, there is no women. In addition, the is also no Hazaras in the cabinet. Apparently, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs has also been removed. The Taliban’s exclusion of women and Shiites from the government drew worldwide criticism. Women, however, protested in Kabul, Herat, Balkh, Nimroz, Ghor, Badakhshan, Takhar, Kapisa and Parwan provinces, demanding that the Taliban secure their rights.

On the other hand, due to the coincidence of the announcement of cabinet by the Taliban with the call for a national uprising by Ahmad Massoud, on Monday night, September 6, a number of Kabul residents, most of them women, took to the streets and chanted slogans against Pakistan.

The demonstrations in Karte Parwan, were suppressed by the Taliban, and then a number of women protesters were detained by the Taliban in the basement of the Azizi Bank building for some time. The central slogans of the protests were “Death to Pakistan” and “Freedom”. The Taliban did not allow the demonstrations to take place any more, declaring that any demonstration would be considered as an “insurgency” given the situation in the country.

Women’s civil protests in different cities – picture from social media

The Taliban did not allow reporters to broadcast women’s protests. They believe that women are supported by foreign parties, seeking an opportunity to discredit the Taliban. As a result, a number of journalists who went to cover the protests were detained and tortured by the Taliban.

The Taliban also given new instructions for the starting date of universities. According to these instructions, the girl and boy classes should be separated. In addition, classes with less than 15 female students were separated by drawing a curtain. In addition, according to the guidelines, girls must leave five minutes earlier than boys and enter the class five minutes later than boys. These instructions provoked a serious reaction from the citizens, and the people demanded the repeal of these instructions.

Taliban Affiliates Forcibly Displaced People in Daykundi and Kandahar

Recently, a number of residents of Uruzgan’s Ghizab district that has been recently annex to the Daykundi administrative unit, and a number of other residents of Kandahar claimed that Taliban-affiliated forces had forced them to leave their homes. A number of people protested against the decision in Daykundi on Monday, and hundreds of people demonstrated in Kandahar province on Tuesday.

Protesters say the Taliban have forced about 3,000 families to flee their homes in the first district of Kandahar. These families live in a neighborhood called “Firqa Kuhna” in the outskirts of Kandahar. These families are the ones most of whom lost supporters during the war. These people have built houses for them in the fields of the Ministry of National Defense.

Several video clips have also been posted on social media showing Hazaras being forcibly displaced by gunmen in some districts of Daykundi province. In the videos, locals claim that individuals affiliated with local Taliban officials in Daykundi are trying to seize their lands and personal properties. The Taliban in Kandahar have not commented on the allegations, but Siddiqullah Abed, the Taliban’s police chief in Daykundi, told 8 Subh that the news might not be true and that it was the enemy’s propaganda. Therefore, according to him, if anyone or a group uses the name of the Taliban to do so, it will not be allowed by the Taliban.

Protest of families forced to leave their homes in Daykundi

Poverty Is on the Rise in Afghanistan

With the fall of the previous government, the country’s banks are also closed. A number of citizens withdrew their money from banks before the fall of Kabul, which reduced the price of Afghanis in the country’s foreign exchange markets. On the day Kabul fell to the Taliban, one dollar was sold for 96 afghanis and then the banks ceased operations. These banks, however, resumed their operations after a while by setting a new condition. The central bank ordered that private bank could resume operations by paying $ 200 or 20,000 Afghanis to its customers. These banks are currently in trouble. This has caused economic problems for the citizens of the country.

On the other hand, the citizens of the country have different views on the fall of the previous government and the rise of the Taliban. Although some people seem optimistic about the new developments, many are not very happy. Citizens claim that with the advent of the Taliban, their livelihoods have been disrupted and they struggle financially. According to them, they lost their income since August 15.

Jamshid is a resident of Kabul. He, who works as a shoemaker in Kabul, says his income has dropped significantly since the Taliban entered Kabul. He adds that he used to earn up to 1,000 afghanis a day, but now that figure has dropped to 200 afghanis. “We are a family consists of five members and we should pay for the house we are now living in, Jamshid says. “I am the only working member in my family. What can be done with these 200 Afghanis? Should I buy bread, buy medicine for myself or pay the rent?”

Like Jamshid, there are countless people in Afghanistan who have either lost their jobs or their incomes are in recession. The Taliban acknowledge that unemployment and poverty have increased, but say that they have plans to create jobs. On the other hand, the international community has warned of rising poverty rates in the country. Recently, UN officials held a meeting to address poverty in Afghanistan. International Community pledged $1.2 billion humanitarian aid to the people of Afghanistan. Acting Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi has also called on the international community to assist the Taliban government.