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5 Things to Know About Afghanistan 1 Year After the U.S. Withdrawal

People run alongside a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane as it moves down a runway of the Kabul airport in Afghanistan on Monday.Verified UGC via AP
People run alongside a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane as it moves down a runway of the Kabul airport in Afghanistan on Monday.Verified UGC via AP

1. Women’s Rights Oppressed

A year after the Afghanistan withdrawal, life for Afghanistan’s women continues to worsen under the Taliban government. After entering Kabul and capturing the capital, the new Taliban government stated that while Afghan women would be allowed to work and study, such actions could only happen under the “framework of Islam.” Months later, the Taliban enacted strict Islamic Sharia law banning women from having jobs, prohibiting them from traveling alone without a male counterpart, banning little girls from attending secondary schools, and enacting other actions that restrict women from mundane daily activities. Women have been ordered to cover their bodies from head to toe in public. According to human rights activists and organizations, women who have peacefully protested the Taliban have been threatened, arrested, detained, and tortured. Many Afghan mothers have been unable to provide for their children, given the high inflation and economic struggle the country has faced under Taliban rule, resulting in the selling of children, particularly young daughters, to receive a dowry.

2. Al Qaeda’s Reemergence

When President Biden and his team decided to pull out of Afghanistan, lawmakers and national security experts warned the administration that such a move would allow the Islamic terrorist organization responsible for the September 11th attacks, Al Qaeda, to re-emerge in the country and use it as a base of operations. While the administration argued during the pullout up until today that Al Qaeda has not regrouped in Afghanistan, the recent death of Al Qaeda’s top leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri who was hiding in plain sight, indicates a different story. According to intelligence reports, Al Qaeda operatives have created secret small training bases in the country, with some speculating that former American military bases are under the ownership of the terrorist group. When the President pulled out of Afghanistan, the United States military left enormous amounts of military equipment, which is now under the control of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. With the death of Zawahiri, many believe the Taliban will continue to hide Al Qaeda leaders in the coming years and help the terrorist entity plot attacks against Americans.

3. Economic Downturn

One year after the withdrawal of Afghanistan from American forces, the country’s economy has continued to experience massive economic downturn. According to reports, more than half the population of Afghanistan requires assistance after years of conflict, natural disasters, oppressive governance, and international sanctions. Once the Taliban began to enact its strict Islamic rule in Kabul, the country experienced an enormous economic shock after the international community cut off more than $8 billion worth of civilian and security aid to Afghanistan. Additionally, the Afghan currency exchange rate has bounced back and is no lower than a year since the withdrawal, with trade and imports declining sharply. The country is also experiencing massive inflation, with Afghan men, women, and families unable to provide necessities like food, education, and medicine for each other. According to human rights organizations, four out of five Afghan children have gone to bed hungry in the past month, and with food prices rising, parents have taken their children out of school, sending them to work to help provide for the family.

4. Iran’s Influence

The Islamic Republic of Iran has made gains with its next-door neighbor, creating new ties that many warn will come back to bite America’s national security in the coming years. Under Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iranian diplomats have met with Taliban officials, stressing the need for economic and security cooperation and deterring the international community. Since its takeover of American military equipment, the Taliban has transported some to Tehran as a peace offering, hoping to earn cooperation and recognition from the mullahs next door. Many national security and foreign policy experts at the time of the withdrawal warned such a move would prevent the U.S. from having the means to monitor or launch operations against Iran. Today, the Islamic Republic and the Taliban government continue to uphold their commitments to one another, vowing to resupply Tehran with water and send electricity to Kabul.

5. Loss of American Dominance

The quick and haphazard pullout of Afghanistan diminished America’s reputation as a dominant superpower. While the President and his officials have argued that America remains powerful, international events since 2020 indicate a different turn in American strength. With reports of Americans left behind in Afghanistan, the deaths of American officials, and videos of Taliban forces marching through the streets of Kabul with American military equipment, regimes like Iran, Russia, China and North Korea view America as weak and ineffectual. When Vladimir Putin of Russia decided to invade Ukraine in early 2022, many lawmakers and national security experts explained that such an attack stemmed from the Afghan withdrawal because of Putin’s perception of the weakness of America and European allies. The Islamic Republic of Iran has also viewed the Afghan withdrawal as a sign of a weak America, arming its proxies in Lebanon, Yemen, Syria, Gaza, and the West Bank while enriching its uranium stockpile and upgrading its nuclear program. The Communist Chinese government under Xi Jinping has also begun making its moves in the world, preparing its forces for a possible military invasion of Taiwan, an important American ally.

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