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Afghanistan in 2021: The End of the Republic and the Return of the Islamic Emirate

This article was written by Arash Yaqin (’21) for South Asian Voices. 

At the beginning of 2021, Afghans faced another year of conflict and economic challenge, retaining some semblance of hope that their leadership and the Taliban would be able to reach a political resettlement through the intra-Afghan Peace Talks. In August, that dream vanished with the unexpected decampment of former President Ashraf Ghani during the early afternoon of August 15. His escape to the United Arab Emirates created a power vacuum that led to chaos and the collapse of the Kabul government, a ceding of all gains and democratic political legitimacy built over the past two decades. The events that followed August 15 have been the most devastating in modern Afghan history. The economy collapsed, Afghan funds frozen, hundreds of thousands of Afghans became refugees, women lost their basic freedoms, the Afghan state lost its international recognition, and millions of ordinary civilians, including children, are on the brink of famine and human catastrophe. 2022 has begun with Afghanistan facing a collapsed economy, ballooning humanitarian crisis, and the absence of a legitimate government. The international community must decide whether to recognize the Taliban de facto government as new rulers or let Afghanistan revert to the dark ages of the 1990s and civil war.

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