Afghanistan Conflict: Taliban takeover a stunningly swift end to the country's 20-year war

The international community was taken by surprise by the speed of the fall of Afghanistan. Panic spread through Kabul, with citizens fleeing and foreign governments organizing the evacuation of their citizens and Afghans who worked for them. The Taliban declared an “amnesty” across Afghanistan and urged women to join their government Tuesday, seeking to convince a wary population that they have changed a day after deadly chaos gripped the main airport as desperate crowds tried to flee the country. The Taliban have sought to portray themselves as more moderate than when they imposed a brutal rule in the late 1990s. But many Afghans remain skeptical. There is also deep concern that terrorist groups could make a comeback under Taliban rule, using Afghanistan as a veritable launchpad for terrorist attacks. Dr. Afzal Ashraf, Visiting Fellow at University of Nottingham, acknowledges that terrorist groups certainly could (make a comeback), "in theory, but one of the things the Taliban have made clear is that they won't allow their territory to be used" for terrorist activity. Dr. Ashraf warns that "the problem isn't whether the Taliban will allow it, it's the fact whether the Taliban will have control over their territory." Dr. Ashraf points out that "it's very difficult for even developed nations to control terrorist groups on their soil. It'll be (even more) difficult for the Taliban."