Afghanistan’s Taliban mark anniversary of US-led force withdrawal
The Taliban swept to power with ease last August after a 20-year conflict against US-led forces ended in a hasty withdrawal by all foreign troops.
The Taliban have celebrated the first anniversary of the withdrawal of US-led forces from Afghanistan with a military parade showcasing equipment left behind by foreign troops and calls for their government to be accepted as legitimate internationally.
Fireworks lit up the sky over Kabul on Tuesday night on the anniversary of the withdrawal and Wednesday was also a public holiday, with small celebrations across Kabul including parades by Taliban forces.
The US withdrawal, completed a minute before midnight on August 30, 2021, came as the Taliban swept to power after a 20-year war against US-led forces who invaded Afghanistan following the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
“The experience of the past 20 years can be a good guide … Any kind of pressure and threats on Afghanistan’s people in the last 20 years has failed and just increased the crisis,” the Taliban said in a statement on Wednesday.
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan – the name the Taliban give their government – is the “legitimate government of the country and the representative of the brave Afghan nation”, the statement said.
The Taliban statement called on the international community to allow Afghans to have an independent Islamic government that has a “positive interaction with the world”.
No country has recognised the Taliban, who took over Afghanistan with a speed and ease that took the world by surprise.
The international community has pressed the Taliban on human rights, particularly those of girls and women whose access to school and work has been limited. It has also urged the Taliban to stop harassing critics, activists, and journalists.
The Taliban say they are discussing the matter of girls’ education and deny cracking down on dissent.
The celebration also included a military parade at Bagram Airbase, the nerve centre of US forces during the war.
Groups of Taliban fighters marched as helicopters flew by, video footage aired by state television showed. Minutes later, dozens of military vehicles including the iconic US military’s Humvees and tanks, seized in the war or left behind by US forces during their chaotic withdrawal, were paraded.
Prime Minister Mohammad Hassan Akhund said in speech marking the withdrawal that the Taliban had put an end to killings and bombing and had ensured national security, according to the local channel TOLOnews.
He said that sanctions on Afghanistan had increased poverty and that understanding would achieve better results than pressure, according to the news channel.
PM Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, at an event in Bagram marking the anniversary of the US withdrawal, stated that when the previous govt fell, the Islamic Emirate was left without any basic facilities…1/3#TOLOnews pic.twitter.com/jPo3YwUORz
— TOLOnews (@TOLOnews) August 31, 2022
Banners celebrating victories against three empires – the former Soviet Union and Britain also lost wars in Afghanistan – flew in Kabul.
Hundreds of white Taliban flags bearing the Islamic proclamation of faith flew on streets and government buildings, while squares in the capital were decorated with lights.
Despite the Taliban’s pride in taking over, Afghanistan’s 38 million people face a desperate humanitarian crisis – aggravated after billions of dollars in Central Bank assets were frozen and foreign aid dried up.