On the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, which led a U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and the overthrow of its Taliban rulers, war-weary inhabitants of Kabul expressed outrage and sentiments of betrayal by the United States on Saturday.
Following a two-decade occupation, US forces abruptly withdrew from Afghanistan last month, precipitating the collapse of the country’s Western-backed government and the Taliban’s stunning return to power.
“The misfortunes we are currently experiencing are because of America,” said Abdul Waris, a Kabul resident, as the white flags of the Taliban emblazoned with lines from the Koran hung from nearby lampposts.
Some of the mostly young men who spoke to Reuters complained that U.S. forces had not tried to help the Afghan people.
“After the September 11 events took place, the Americans were in our country for 20 years for their own benefit,” said Jalil Ahmad.
“They took the benefits they had in mind for 20 years while we did not get any benefit from them. They have left the country in a state of confusion.”
Bearded Taliban fighters with guns slung over their shoulders were visible around the capital but the mood was quiet and calm following the dramatic changes of recent weeks.
“Now there is security and security is good… May God give the Taliban more strength to maintain this (calm) forever,” said resident Gul Agha Laghmni.
A member of Taliban security forces stands guard among crowds of people walking past in a street in Kabul, Afghanistan September 4, 2021. REUTERS/Stringer
‘A LOT OF COMMOTION’
U.S. forces toppled the Taliban after the 9/11 attacks because they had provided sanctuary to Osama bin Laden, leader of al Qaeda, which carried out the attacks.
Since returning to power last month, the Taliban has appointed an acting cabinet including several former militants held by the United States in Guantanamo Bay.
Western leaders have expressed concern over the outlook for human rights, especially for women, under Taliban rule. Several street protests led by women have been broken up in the past two weeks, and some people have been detained and beaten. The Taliban have promised to investigate such incidents.
When they were last in power from 1996 to 2001, the Taliban imposed a strict version of Islamic law and often punished people with public floggings, amputations and executions. Women’s rights to work and education were severely restricted.
There were relatively few women on the streets of Kabul on Saturday, and all those who were out had their heads covered – a fact welcomed by residents such as Shah Raoof.
“In the presence of America, there was a lot of commotion in our country. Women were unveiled,” he said.
“The majority of our youth fled, a number were martyred and a number of others were afflicted by America through war and misery.”