After the final US soldiers flew out of Afghanistan to conclude two decades of conflict, the Taliban celebrated their complete return to power with gunfire and diplomacy on Tuesday.
On Monday night, the United States’ longest military war came to an end as its troops left Kabul’s airport, where they had overseen a frantic evacuation that saw more than 123,000 Afghans escape life under the Taliban.
Taliban militants stormed the airport and celebrated by firing guns into the skies over the city, marking acomeback after US troops invaded in 2001 and toppled them for aiding Al-Qaeda.
“Congratulations to Afghanistan… this victory belongs to us all,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told reporters hours later on the runway of the airport.
The Taliban’s triumph, Mujahid claimed, was a “lesson for other invaders.”
Many Afghans fear a recurrence of the Taliban’s first reign from 1996 to 2001, when they were notorious for their abuse of women and girls, as well as a harsh judicial system.
The Taliban, on the other hand, have frequently pledged a more tolerant and open style of governance than they did during their first term in power, and Mujahid echoed that promise.
“We want to have good relations with the US and the world. We welcome good diplomatic relations with them all,” he said.
Mujahid also insisted Taliban security forces would “be gentle and nice”.
Despite the US investing billions to restore the country, the Taliban will inherit a shattered country, with severe poverty, drought, and Daesh threats among the many challenges.
President Joe Biden had set a deadline of August 31 to finish America’s longest conflict, which had cost the lives of more than 2,400 US military personnel.
The early end came as a result of a threat from a regional Daesh offshoot, rivals of the Taliban, who were attempting to attack US troops at the airport.
More than 100 people were murdered when a Daesh suicide bomber struck the perimeter of the airport late last week, where desperate Afghans had gathered in the hopes of boarding an evacuation aircraft.
The US-led airlift operation, which started shortly after the Taliban stormed into Kabul on August 14, evacuated almost 123,000 civilians from the city.