In August, the world watched with apprehension as chaos broke out in Afghanistan. The United States quickly withdrew its forces after occupying the country for nearly twenty years, and the Taliban – displaced from power a generation earlier – was rapidly regaining control. Panic swept over Afghan cities, and desperate citizens filled the airport in Kabul in an attempt to escape.
Abdul Wahid Wafa, a longtime journalist from Afghanistan, was shocked but not surprised. For months, he had observed ominous signs of what awaited the departure of the United States, and he had made plans for his family to leave. “I knew something was going to happen in Afghanistan,” he said New Yorker subscribers, Thursday night. “The crash was very gradual. I remember months ago I started calling my friends and colleagues that I see something going in the wrong direction.”
Wafa spoke from Houston’s security, where he and his family sought refuge last month after brief stops in Qatar and Mexico. A former Kabul-based reporter for New York Times, Wafa participated in The New Yorker Live, a monthly digital event series for magazine subscribers. The other participants in the panel included Anand Gopal, who recently entered New Yorkers on support for the Taliban among Afghan women in the countryside, returning to the country last month, and Eliza Griswold, a contributing writer for the magazine, who received a PEN The translation prize for “I Am the Beggar of the World”, a collection of Afghan women’s folk poetry. David Rohde, the editor-in-chief of newyorker.com, who has reported from Afghanistan – and who described his kidnapping there by a faction of the Taliban – acted as moderator.
In the video above, you can see highlights from the discussion that covered topics, including Donald Trump’s unprecedented decision to enter into negotiations with the Taliban; the responsibility of the Biden administration for the collapse of Afghanistan; how ordinary Americans can help Afghans; and the Taliban’s prospects of remaining in power. The event, which can be viewed in its entirety by subscribers, was extended to give panelists time to answer questions submitted by members of the audience.
Details of the next edition of The New Yorker Live will be announced after the 22nd New Yorker Festival, which begins on Monday and is open to both subscribers and non-subscribers. (Subscribers are eligible for discounted tickets.) New Yorker Live programming is available only to subscribers who can enjoy all previous episodes at any time.
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