Zawahiri’s Killing Caps Off an Awful Year Under the Taliban

Zawahiri’s Killing Caps Off an Awful Year Under the Taliban
Taliban leaders attend a ceremony marking the ninth anniversary of the death of Mullah Mohammad Omar, in Kabul, Afghanistan, April 24, 2022 (AP photo by Ebrahim Noroozi).

One year after the Taliban stormed across Afghanistan and seized power in Kabul, what is the state of the country under Taliban rule? In a word, worse. By almost every major benchmark, Afghanistan and the Afghan people are in a bad situation, with economic, social, security and human rights indicators all having declined. On top of all that, the killing of al-Qaida’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri this weekend in a U.S. drone attack on his safe house in Kabul has raised renewed concerns that the Taliban are once again providing sanctuary to the transnational terrorist group, which could have serious implications for the country’s future.

The impact of the past year has been hardest on Afghan girls and women, who have suffered the most under the Taliban’s rule. According to Amnesty International, since taking back power in August 2021, the Taliban have repeatedly violated women’s and girl’s rights to education, work and free movement. Nearly overnight, two decades of progress for Afghan women and girls was reversed, and there has been a massive spike in forced marriages of young girls. The women that have spoken out, protested or demonstrated against these oppressive new measures have been threatened, beaten and detained.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s economy is teetering on the brink of collapse. Multinational corporations and banks are steering clear of doing business in or with the country over concerns of violating international sanctions. With global inflation exacerbating the crisis, and no Taliban ministers with the technical expertise to manage Afghanistan’s economy, the situation is expected to get worse before it gets better. Taliban leaders remain under sanctions, and while they have experience commanding an insurgency, they know little about financial markets or how to manage a modern economy. Unsurprisingly, the Taliban’s draconian rule has scared off both foreign aid and potential investors.

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