‘Day of conquest’ as Taliban mark turbulent first year in power

Taliban fighters chanted victory slogans next to the US embassy in Kabul Monday as they marked the first anniversary of their return to power in Afghanistan following a turbulent year that saw women’s rights crushed and a humanitarian crisis worsened.

Exactly a year ago, the hardline Islamists captured Kabul after a nationwide lightning offensive against government forces just as US-led troops were ending two decades of intervention in a conflict that cost you of thousands of lives.

“It’s the day of victory and happiness for the Afghan Muslims and people. It is the day of conquest and victory of the white flag,” government spokesman Bilal Karimi said on Twitter.

Images of crowds storming the airport, climbing atop aircraft — and some clinging to a departing US military cargo plane as it rolled down the runway — aired on news bulletins around the world.

Many Taliban fighters gathered in Kabul’s Massoud Square, adjacent to the now-shut US embassy, ​​where they displayed the regime’s white banners.

Taliban flags fluttered from lamposts along the road to the airport.

“The time when we entered Kabul, and when the Americans left, those were moments of joy,” said Hekmat, now a member of the special forces guarding the presidential palace.

For many ordinary Afghans, however, the return of the Taliban has only increased hardships — especially for women.

But many restrictions have been imposed movement on women to comply with the austere vision of Islam.

And in May, they were ordered to fully cover up in public, ideally with an all-encompassing burqa.

“Everything has been snatched from us, they have even entered our personal space,” she added.

While Afghans acknowledges the decline in violence since the Taliban seized power, the humanitarian crisis has left many helpless.

The country is in economic crisis, with its overseas assets frozen by Washington and aid curtailed in order to keep funds out of the Taliban’s hands.

For Taliban fighters, however, the joy of victory overshadows the current economic crisis.

bur-jd-fox/smw

Originally published as ‘Day of conquest’ as Taliban mark turbulent first year in power

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