U.S. ends occupation in Afghanistan

On Aug. 15, Taliban fighters were able to successfully take over Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, after U.S. troops had been instructed to evacuate the country.

President Joe Biden decided to end the United States’ two decades of involvement in Afghanistan when he ordered the evacuation of American citizens, third–country civilians, vulnerable Afghans, Afghan allies and U.S. troops from the country.

“American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves,” said Biden in an interview with ABC News.

Biden points to Afghan leaders and military personnel for not defending their capital and country as one of the primary reasons for removing U.S. soldiers.

“Look, it was a simple choice,” said Biden with ABC News. “When you had the government of Afghanistan, the leader of that government, get in a plane and [go] to another country, when you saw the significant collapse of the Afghan troops we had trained, up to 300,000 of them, just [leave] their equipment and [take] off — [that should not have happened].”

However, Biden wants to maintain a military presence in Afghanistan until all U.S. citizens are safely evacuated. 

According to USA Today, Biden authorized the deployment of 5,000 troops to Afghanistan to assist with the evacuation of U.S. personnel, Afghan allies and military prior to the fall of the capital. 

Since then, a group unaffiliated with the Taliban, called the Islamic State Group, organized a suicide bombing at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Aug. 26 during the evacuation. This attack wounded over 140 Afghans, as well as killed 60 Afghans and 13 U.S. service members. 

This group is claimed to be far more radical than the Taliban. According to apnews.com, the Taliban is not believed to be involved with the attack and even condemned it.

“We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay,” said Biden in a speech given at the White House as he instructed the U.S. military to make plans to strike [ISIS–K].

Biden met with the families of those killed in the attack on Aug. 29 at the Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to honor and mourn the fallen troops. 

According to CBS News, the last flight out of Afghanistan carrying U.S. troops took off on Aug. 30 at 3:29 p.m. EST, marking the end of America’s longest war.

The last soldier to leave Afghanistan was identified as Major General Chris Donahue, commander of the U.S. Army 82 Airborne Division of the 18th Airborne Corps, as a photo was posted on Twitter by the Defense Department’s account @18airbornecorps

Twelve–and–a–half metric tons of trauma kits, emergency health kits and other supplies were delivered to Afghanistan in a plane from the World Health Organization on the same day. 

This was the first shipment of medical supplies to land in Afghanistan since the Taliban has taken control. It is enough to address the basic health needs of 200,000 people, treat 6,500 trauma patients and complete 3,500 surgeries.

“In the midst of a pandemic, we’re extremely concerned by the large displacement of people and increasing cases of diarrhea, malnutrition, high blood pressure, probably cases of COVID–19 and reproductive health complications,” said the WHO’s director–general,  Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a press release. “There is an immediate need to ensure sustained humanitarian access and continuity of health services across the country, with a focus on ensuring women and girls have access to female health workers.”

Although the last U.S. soldiers and the majority of U.S. personnel have evacuated the country, around 100 U.S. citizens have been left in Afghanistan without any U.S. plan to assist them.

“We are scared and keep hiding ourselves more and more,” said a Califronian woman in Afghanistan with her family in a text message to The Associated Press. “Whenever we feel breathless, I pray.”

However, the Taliban has promised to allow Americans with proper travel documents to leave the country. Now that the Taliban is in control of Afghanistan, they have made an effort to curb women’s rights to enforce a strict interpretation of Islam.

Female workers have been told to stay at home and will be replaced by men. Female students in middle and high school were told that they could not return to school while male students continued their studies. Female university students were informed that their studies would take place in a gender–segregated setting and that they must follow a strict Islamic dress code.

A few women’s rights protests and meetings have surfaced around the country, but have been shut down swiftly by the Taliban.

“It’s our right,” said Marzia Ahmadi, a rights activist and government employee forced to sit at home in a public statement. “We want to talk to them. We want to tell them that we have the same rights as they have.”

With the United Nations’ annual General Assembly occuring towards the end of September, the Taliban has requested to attend these meetings in place of Afghanistan.

The Taliban claims that it has all the requirements necessary to be a recognized form of government in the U.N. Although the U.N. has not yet challenged their credentials, they have not given permission for the Taliban to attend these meetings in Afghanistan’s stead.

The U.N. believes it can could use this as leverage to gain assurances for human rights, women’s rights and political reform in Afghanistan from the Taliban.

“If you’re in the U.N. and you want to represent the family of nations, then you want absolutely everything of the family there—even you know, the distant cousin that not everyone’s proud of,” said Rohinton Medhora, president of the Center for International Governance Innovation in Canada. “So the U.N. needs Afghanistan and countries to demonstrate the value of many of its operations.”

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