Afghanistan: A year of Taliban rule
On August 2021, the Taliban seized power from the internationally backed Afghan government as American and NATO troops were completing their withdrawal. After twenty years of war and foreign intervention the country was once again in the hands of the Islamist movement.
Soon after the fall, Western countries froze around $9 billion in Afghan central bank assets, mostly held in the U.S., stopped sending aid and applied sanctions on the Taliban government.
The country soon spiraled into poverty. Around Kabul, families where selling their house appliances for any cash they can get, account holders waited in long lines outside banks to withdraw their savings, while in the currency exchange market, traders sat in front of piles Afghan banknotes that were quickly losing their value. Hospitals in Kabul and around the country swelled with malnourished children, with many of them sent home with packets of therapeutic food because of the lack of beds.
The Taliban struggled to transform from an irregular militia to a functioning government. They now had to manage the police and the justice system. While the Taliban funded their war effort through the opium trade, now they had to deal with a drug epidemic. Drug addicts crowded under bridges and on the side of the roads in Kabul, the new government started rounding them up and take them to prison-like rehabilitation centres but they were not able to stop the drug trade.
The Taliban government also started introducing regulation to implement their strict interpretation of Sharia law and some feared the return to the draconian rules that they imposed during the late 1990s. Circumstances changed mostly for women and the educated urbanites. Female students were banned to attend past 6th grade and most women working in government offices were told to stay home. The Ministry of Women’s Affairs was closed and its building turned into the headquarter of the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, the religious police.
The new rulers were not able to turn the country around in one year but they showed in more than one occasion that they are willing to shape the new Afghanistan according to the ideas they fought for.