Taliban Takeover: Conflict and Casualties


Jack Shadden

Concluding a costly war spanning two decades, the United States finally withdrew its troops from Afghanistan on August 30, 2021. Evacuation efforts were largely successful with over 5,500 American citizens, and most U.S. troops were safely removed through the Kabul International Airport. However, tragically, an attack on this airport on August 26 (including two suicide bombers and several gunmen) led to more than 100 fatalities, including the death of over 90 Afghans and 13 U.S. soldiers. Among these soldiers was 20-year-old Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz, a previous Wentzville resident who was honored recently with a 31-mile funeral procession route to Jefferson Barracks where he was buried.

As this conflict came to an end, Afghanistan was essentially left in the hands of the Taliban, an oppressive Islamic fundamentalist group notorious for its strict interpretation of Islamic law. While the United States finalized its withdrawal of troops, the Taliban rapidly seized control of many Afghan cities. Inhabitants feared the resurrection of the group’s power which took place in the past from 1996 to 2001, including the severe maltreatment of women and a cruel, inhumane punishment system. Despite a pledge to respect the rights of women and minorities, the Taliban has returned in many ways to its former regime, and such implications are detrimental to the Afghan people.

An anonymous Afghani woman reported, “You can see the changes,” citing the transition in women from wearing expressive suits to body-covering burqas that only reveal the face. Other minorities face persecution under the Taliban as well, including members of the LGBTQIA+ community being forced to live in constant fear of punishment for their beliefs. Another issue Afghanistan faces is its likelihood of economic collapse, with studies from the United Nations predicting nationwide poverty by next year. These concerns, among many others, have convinced many Afghani people to seek refuge in other safer countries under more tolerant governments. Officials estimate upwards of 50,000 Afghans seeking to evacuate Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, it does not appear that conditions will become any better in the near future, if at all. For the Afghan people, the worst may be yet to come.