Afghanistan: population, map and explanation of the Taliban and the ongoing war

The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan raised fears of a rise in terrorism and the rebirth of Al Qaeda, while leaving the Afghans facing a terrifying future of oppression and brutality.

US President Joe Biden has said he “strongly supports the decision” to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.

The US leader spoke of the developing crisis in the war-torn country, saying the situation “is changing rapidly”.

He assured the allies that if the Taliban engaged their deployed troops to rescue the people, “swift and decisive” action would be taken.

Biden warned the Taliban not to interfere with the evacuation effort, threatening “a devastating force, if necessary.”

On his decision to continue with the withdrawal, he said “I strongly support my decision,” claiming that Afghan political leaders “have given up” and fled the country and while taking a hit on Donald Trump. “I inherited a plan to withdraw from Afghanistan from Trump,” he said.

Here is an explanation of the crisis and the ongoing war in Afghanistan.

What is the population of Afghanistan and where is it?

Afghanistan map
Afghanistan map

The country has more than 38 million inhabitants and is a landlocked mountainous country at the crossroads of Central and South Asia.

What caused the conflict?

The conflict is due to the American invasion in 2001 which aimed to dismantle the bases of al-Qaeda by eliminating the Taliban after the attacks of September 11.

The US mission in Afghanistan was to overthrow the Taliban, rebuild institutions and hand the country over to a democratically elected government with its institutions protected by the Afghan army and police.

However, as soon as the United States put forward a date for the withdrawal of its army, that plan fell apart.

How did the Taliban come about?

The United States is not the first great power to discover that Afghanistan is ungovernable in the long run.

On Christmas Eve 1979, the Soviet Union sent troops and tanks to Afghanistan, supposedly to restore order after a coup.

But the invasion had the opposite effect and instead sparked a nationwide rebellion by fighters known as the Mojahedin who drew inspiration from Islam.

Ironically, these fighters had the backing of the United States and were joined in their fight by foreign volunteers who quickly formed a network, known as al-Qaeda.

The Mujahedin also fought among themselves and from these fragmented groups came the Taliban in 1996 which then seized the capital Kabul.

They imposed a harsh interpretation of Islamic law which prohibited the education of women and prescribed cutting of hands, or even execution, for minor offenses.

Also in 1996, al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden arrived in Afghanistan and established the terrorist group’s headquarters there.

What happened after the September 11 attacks in America?

After the September 11 attacks, which were planned from Afghanistan, the US campaign began, secretly at first, hoping that a strategy to overthrow the Taliban could be achieved without great military force.

As the British and Russians learned the hard way, this could not be achieved and two decades later the Americans suffered a humiliating defeat.

After the defeat of the British, Afghanistan became an independent nation in 1921.

Will women’s rights be respected?

During the reforms of the 1960s, women were granted more freedoms and were allowed to attend university and work.

There are now fears that under the Taliban, women and girls have no rights and will be treated as slaves and the property of men.

What is happening now in the ongoing war?

Panic and chaos claimed lives at Kabul airport on Monday as people tried to flee crowded Taliban runways and cling to planes.

Some were run over and others who were clinging to an departing American jet fell hundreds of feet and died.

Eight residents were killed as troops began to evacuate thousands of Western officials – including 6,000 British – and aid workers from Afghanistan.

A US Air Force C-17 Globemaster carrier plane took off on Sunday with 640 Afghans who had climbed inside.

Instead of trying to force people off the plane, a US defense official said “the crew made the decision to leave.”

The Pentagon said Monday evening that all inbound and outbound flights had been halted “out of excess of caution” and did not know when they would resume.

French President Emmanuel Macron said the EU would put in place an initiative to stop the large flows of migrants from Afghanistan.

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