The Taliban, which on Sunday (15) entered the Afghan capital Kabul while President Ashraf Ghani left the country, ruled between 1996 and 2001 imposing a strict interpretation of Sharia (Islamic law).
In 1994, the Taliban (“religion students”) movement appeared in Afghanistan, a country ravaged by the war against the Soviets (1979-1989) and facing a fratricidal struggle among mujahedin since the fall of the communist regime in Kabul in 1992.
Trained in madrasas (Quranic schools) in neighboring Pakistan, where this group of Sunni Islamists found refuge during the conflict with the Soviets, the Taliban were led by the mysterious Mullah Mohamad Omar, who died in 2003.
Mullah Akhtar Mansur succeeded him and was assassinated in 2016 in Pakistan.
Currently, the Taliban is led by Haibatullah Akhundzada, while Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, co-founder of the movement, heads the political wing.
Like most of the Afghan population, they are essentially Pashtuns, the ethnic group that dominated the country almost uninterruptedly for two centuries.
The Taliban pledged to restore order and justice, and they grew rapidly thanks to Pakistan’s support and the tacit approval of the United States.
In October 1994, they took Kandahar, the former royal capital, with little or no fighting.
Equipped with a military arsenal and a large spoils of war that allowed them to bribe local commanders, they carried out a series of territorial conquests until, on September 27, 1996, they took over Kabul.
They then expelled President Burhanuddin Rabbani and publicly executed former Communist President Najibullah.
Commander Ahmed Shah Masud, hero of the anti-Soviet resistance, retreated to the Panchir Valley, north of Kabul, from where he organized the armed opposition.
He was assassinated by the extremist al-Qaeda network on September 9, 2001.
Once in power, the Taliban imposed strict Islamic law that prohibited games, music, photos or television, among others.
Women could no longer work and schools for girls were closed.
The penalties the insurgents ordered included cutting off the hands of thieves, executing murderers in public, crushing homosexuals under a brick wall, or stoning adulterous women.
In March 2001, the dynamite destruction of the giant Buddhas in Bamiyan (centre) sparked a wave of international protests.
The seat of power moved to Kandahar, where Mullah Omar lived in seclusion in a house built by al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
The Taliban’s territory (which once controlled up to 90% of Afghanistan) became a sanctuary for Islamic extremists from around the world who came to train, particularly those from al-Qaeda.
After the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, carried out by al-Qaeda, and the Taliban regime’s refusal to hand over bin Laden, Washington and its NATO allies launched a wide-ranging military operation in the country on October 7 of the same year. .
On December 6, the Taliban regime capitulated.
Its leaders fled with al-Qaeda to the south and east of the country and also to Pakistan.
Attacks and ambushes against the Western armed forces multiplied.
NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) combat mission, which ended in late 2014, has been replaced by a training, counseling and assistance mission called Resolute Support.
Afghan security forces began to fight alone against the Taliban and other insurgent groups, with the support of the US Air Force.
In July 2015, Pakistan hosted the first direct discussions, supported by Washington and Beijing, between the Afghan government and the Taliban. But the dialogue did not advance.
At the same time, the Afghan branch of the Islamic State group, rivals of the Taliban, was created, which claimed responsibility for a series of attacks.
In mid-2018, the Americans and the Taliban began silent negotiations in Doha, which were interrupted several times after attacks on US troops.
On February 29, 2020, Washington signed a historic agreement with the Taliban, which called for the withdrawal of foreign soldiers in exchange for security guarantees and the opening of negotiations between the insurgents and the Afghan government.
On July 6, 2021, the US military announced that its withdrawal was “more than 90% complete”.
Five weeks later, the Taliban enter the capital, Kabul, and President Ashraf Ghani, who left the country, admits that the insurgents “won”.
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