How did it all start?
Origins of the Taliban: During the Soviet War in Afghanistan (1979-1989), Afghans were torn in two groups: the Afghan Mujahideen nationalists and the Afghan Marxists. The USA, recognising the analogy in terms of the Cold War, directed funds to the Afghan Mujahideen. Simultaneously, an increasing number of Arab Mujahideen entered the Jihad together with the Afghans against the Afghan Marxists. The Mujahideen received international aid from Islamic organisations, especially Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK) which was founded by Osama bin Laden and Abdullah Yusuf Azzam. MAK was funded also by the Saudi Arabs forming a de facto compact jihadist coalition between the Mujahideen in the Middle East, the MAK, and the Saudi government. Soon afterwards, the alliance infiltrated the USA forming recruiting offices all over the federation.
The Taliban and al-Qaeda: A little before the withdrawal of the Soviets in 1989, the Mujahideen endeavoured to expand their operations in other parts of the Islamic world and as a consequence, many intersecting and interconnected organisations were formed, one of which would eventually be al-Qaeda. Over the next years, most of the Mujahideen groups became attached to the organised Taliban. By the end of 1996, Afghanistan was under the Taliban regime. Even though, at that time the Taliban and al-Qaeda had not officially formed an alliance, they had developed a symbiotic relationship. On October 15th, 1999, the United Nations Security Council declared al-Qaeda and Taliban Sanctions Committee as terrorist entities and enforced restrictions on their financing, mobility, and arm shipments.
The involvement of the US
The terrorist attacks: On September 9th, 2001, a prominent member of the Anti-Taliban front was murdered as an assurance of support from the Taliban to al-Qaeda for what ensued. Two days after, on September 11th, 2001, the US was shaken to its core as havoc was wreaked upon the East Coast after the terrorist attacks in the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon in Washington D.C. by al-Qaeda. That was the turning point for the USA, when President George W. Bush declared war against the terrorists in a spirit of vengeful patriotism. The War begins and the US military, with the support of Britain, unloads a bombing crusade against al-Qaeda and the Taliban forces in Afghanistan. The loss of the battle of Mazar-e-Sharif on November 9th, 2001, is the beginning of the end for the Taliban government since in less than a week their troops have retreated, and Afghanistan is now under the auspices of the United Nations. Osama bin Laden has escaped, and the fortune of Afghanistan seems to be taking a different route.
American Troops in Afghanistan: The Taliban continue to operate even with the presence of American troops as Afghanistan is slowly being westernised with the composition of a constitution and the implementation of democratic procedures. When President Barack Obama gained power, in 2009, he decided to ratchet the attack up by dispatching seventeen thousand troops to the battlefront. Following the developments, after two years, he withdrew them with an additional sixteen thousand. The situation continues the same path, and the USA are dispatching and withdrawing troops over the course of the next few years up until April 14th, 2021, when President Joe Biden announces the complete withdrawal of the American troops.
What is happening now?
Military situation: After the withdrawal the situation escalated quickly, and the Taliban were able to conquer the whole of Afghanistan and overthrow its government in a timespan of four months. Whilst the Taliban pledge not to allow any terrorist influxes to the West, pleas like that one seem questionable concerning the history and the disposition of the organisation.
Human rights: With only a small percentage of the population being able to flee, most Afghans have been subjects of human rights violations. More specifically, officials and former government personnel have been executed and tens of journalists, activists and human rights defenders have been raided. Women’s rights have been significantly restricted and all women in power were immediately laid off. The future of women now is uncertain, but it most certainly seems doomed.
What has the future in store for Afghanistan? That is certainly unforeseeable, but since history rewrites itself, now that the Taliban have returned it will not be long until al-Qaeda comes back to the spotlight.