Taliban Takeover: Breaking Down Afghanistan’s Swift Collapse



The militant group returned to Afghanistan’s capital. Here’s a breakdown of the dramatic takeover.

The Taliban has seized power in Afghanistan once again. In a move that caught even the U.S. by surprise, the militant group stormed the country’s capital on Sunday — more on that below. 

What happened?

Facing little resistance, Taliban forces took over the presidential palace in Kabul, where they plan to declare a new “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.” This came just hours after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, signaling the collapse of the Afghan government. Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai subsequently announced that he was forming a “coordinating council” to manage a peaceful transfer of power.

What was the situation on the ground?

Amid the takeover, Kabul was “gripped by panic” as helicopters evacuated Americans from the U.S. embassy in a dramatic scene likened to the 1975 fall of Saigon. The Pentagon said it would send another 1,000 troops to the city to aid evacuations. All commercial flights out of Kabul were canceled this morning, stranding thousands hoping to escape. The U.S. embassy has told Americans in Kabul not to go to the airport and to “shelter in place,” amid reports of gunfire.

What’s the Biden administration doing about it?

President Biden has been catching a lot of flak for the U.S.’s chaotic exit — just last month, he called a takeover “highly unlikely.” But the president has defended his decision to withdraw all troops by his August 31 deadline, and end America’s longest war. This comes as many Afghans fear the return of the Taliban’s brutal rule, where women have traditionally lacked basic rights, such as attending school, or going outside unaccompanied by a man.