The MED This Week newsletter provides expert analyses and informed comments on the most significant developments in the MENA region and beyond, bringing together unique opinions on the topic and reliable foresight on future scenarios. Today, we turn the spotlight on Afghanistan, where the Taliban’s takeover of the capital Kabul will lead the country to a new rule, with uncertain geopolitical and humanitarian consequences.
After twenty years of international occupation, Afghanistan is back in the Talibans’ hands. On 15 August, while (former) Afghan President Ashraf Ghani left the country to take refuge in neighbouring Tajikistan or Uzbekistan, the Taliban triumphantly entered the presidential palace in Kabul. In early April, following the announcement that the the US and NATO troops would begin to withdraw, the Taliban started a military offensive marked by the seizure of almost all of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial capitals in a matter of months. During this advance, the Afghan national army – funded and trained for twenty years by NATO forces – simply collapsed with little or no opposition. Still, the Taliban’s sweep of the country and the capture of Kabul has exceeded even the least optimistic predictions. The capital, where thousands of Afghan citizens in past weeks had tried to take refuge from the Taliban rule, fell within a few hours. While several diplomatic missions hurried to evacuate personnel before the Taliban’s advance, chaotic scenes were reported at the international airport, with Afghans overwhelming the tarmac and temporarily bringing evacuation flights to a halt. On their side, the Taliban announced a “general amnesty” for Afghan workers that supported the US-led Coalition, ensuring an “inclusive” government under sharia law. Nonetheless, several UN agencies are raising alarms over a situation that could presents “all the hallmarks of a humanitarian catastrophe”. Some countries showed diplomatic openings to the Taliban, with embassies remaining open in the country – among them, Russia and China. On the other side, US President Joe Biden has openly defended his decision to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan despite the collapse of the Afghan government amid the Taliban’s relentless advance, facing mounting criticism for a decision that draws parallels to the US exit from Saigon in 1975. Although the US authorities plan to evacuate thousands of former Afghan collaborators, most Afghans find themselves alone, with rising uncertainty over their upcoming future.


Experts from the ISPI MED network react to the unfolding crisis in Afghanistan after the Taliban swiftly took control of the country.

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