Nearly three months after President Joe Biden announced US troops would begin withdrawing from Afghanistan, the Taliban quickly began a takeover of provinces across the county, ultimately leading up to Kabul, the capital city.
This movement by the Islamist militant group is hardly a surprise to experts.
“Half of the country slipped out of the government’s control in the last three months, and it no longer had a buffer protecting those provincial capitals,” analyst Andrew Watkins told Vox’s Jen Kirby.
Since May, the local government had lost or abandoned more than 200 of the 400 districts in Afghanistan, leaving many of them to fall to Taliban control. Taliban fighters in remote villages and outposts have used misinformation campaigns and fear-mongering to scare away local residents and intimidate Afghan government officials. This, coupled with a political division over support of the group, has left Afghanistan’s government at a loss.
The Taliban swiftly acquired more territories, including important border cities and trade routes, and then took over major cities, including Kabul, which was the last government stronghold. Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani fled the country after the Taliban reached Kabul.
“The Biden administration should have been able to foresee that pulling out of Afghanistan would create a power vacuum that would change the battlefield,” writes Nicole Narea.
Follow this storystream for all of Vox’s coverage and analysis of the unfolding situation in Afghanistan.