August 26, 2021
For the past month, Afghanistan has been rocked with devastation. On August 15, after entering the capital city of Kabul, the Taliban effectively took control of the country as the civilian Afghan government collapsed. President Ashraf Ghani fled the country. The fall of Afghanistan to Taliban rules comes two decades after the U.S. military invasion helped oust from power, following 9/11. In the intervening years, the U.S. has poured billions of dollars into the country, and has controlled the public narrative of Afghanistan. Under Taliban rule, women’s rights, as well as civilian rights at large, could be set back decades. Many fear that the nation will succumb to violence and policing once again. Thousands of Afghans are now trying to evacuate the country, while those who cannot face long ATM lines, food shortages, and increasing inflation.
For those outside Afghanistan, it can be difficult to comprehend the gravity of the current situation, what the future might look like for Afghanistan and its citizens, and how to best be of help.
We spoke to Mariam Jalalzada, a Kabul native who currently resides in Washington, D.C. and is a senior analyst for a U.S. government oversight agency that tracks reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, and Shahla Naimi, an Afghan American with a background in migration research and Islamic cultural preservation who has worked in Afghanistan. Jalalzada has more than a decade of experience in economic development in rural communities in Afghanistan. Naimi, who currently lives in New York, has been a key part of projects such as the Afghan Film Festival, in collaboration with the Ministry of Information and Culture in Afghanistan.