Monday, August 16, 2021

Mapping the Advance of the Taliban

The Taliban has taken control of the presidential palace in Kabul and the Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani has left the country. Despite President Biden's claims that a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan was not inevitable it has taken the insurgents only a matter of weeks to take control of the country after this summer's withdrawal of American troops.

The New York Times has used a small multiples map visualization to show how the Taliban has quickly taken control of Afghanistan since May 3rd. The chronological mapping in 20 Years of Defense, Erased by the Taliban in a Few Months (which I have truncated in the above screenshot to show only the first and last three maps of the series) reveal how, as U.S. forces began withdrawing from the country at the beginning of May, Taliban forces have been able to swiftly gain control of rural districts and takeover provincial capitals. 

Showing the advance of the Taliban over time in this way is a very effective visualization of how quickly government forces in Afghanistan have lost control of the country. After 20 years of an American military presence in the country Afghanistan will now return to the cruelest excesses of sharia law. During the 1996 to 2001 Taliban government women were banned from schools and from working. Punishments such as stoning, whipping and hanging were used against those who were found guilty of breaking religious laws. There are already reports that women in the provinces now being run by the Taliban have been stopped form attending schools and universities and can not leave their homes unless they are escorted by a man.

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