A day after the United States announced the end of the withdrawal of military troops from Afghanistan, after 20 years of occupation, supporters and members of the Taliban gathered in some cities in the Asian country to celebrate what they called a “day of freedom”.
In one of the recorded images, the crowd parades carrying coffins covered with flags of the USA, European countries and NATO (Western military alliance that supported the occupation in the country and, in 2014, announced the end of its combat mission in Afghanistan).
The commemoration was recorded in Khost, capital of the Afghan province of the same name, located in the east of the country, 230 kilometers from Kabul and close to the border with Pakistan. Coffins covered with the flags of France and the United Kingdom were also seen at the site.
Part of the crowd also raised weapons, while others waved Taliban flags or recorded the celebration via cell phones. In Kabul, on Monday itself, gunfire and fireworks had already been heard after the takeoff of the last American plane.
“August 31 is our official day of freedom. On that day, US occupation forces and NATO forces fled the country,” Taliban official Qari Saeed Khosti told a local TV station, according to the news agency Reuters.
This Monday (30), the US concluded the withdrawal of its troops from the country. The occupation began weeks after the September 11, 2001, attacks in retaliation for the country’s harboring of terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda, responsible for the attack.
Since October 2001, there have been 160,000 deaths (of which 2,298 American soldiers, 3,814 mercenaries, 1,145 allies and the rest Afghans), according to a study by Brown University (USA). The war cost $2.26 trillion, a figure that the Pentagon puts at $1 trillion.
Now, with the departure of the foreign armed forces, Afghans live in a dilemma regarding the country’s future in the hands of the Taliban, who already ruled the country between 1996 and 2001. In power, the group was accused of repressing opponents with torture and death and restricted several civil liberties. Women, for example, were prohibited from attending schools and universities.
Now, the Islamic fundamentalist group promises a moderate government, but recent episodes involving the killing of artists and control of the press show contradictions in this speech. Actions in the coming months will tell whether the extremist faction will garner support from the Western community.
This Tuesday (31), Zabihullah Mujahid, spokesman for the Taliban, reinforced his interest in maintaining “good relations with the United States and with the world.” “We welcome good diplomatic relations with everyone,” he said.
For now, the Taliban has received nods from Russians and Chinese. In the midst of the crisis, it remains to be seen how the country’s economy and the lives of the Afghan people will be. On Tuesday, António Guterres, UN secretary general, warned of the possibility of a humanitarian catastrophe in the country and called on UN member states to provide “timely, flexible and broad funding” to respond to the plight of the Afghan people.
He also recalled that “almost half of the population, 18 million people, needs humanitarian aid to survive.”