Afghanistan Earthquake and the Taliban

Alan Cai

June 24, 2022

The recent earthquake in Afghanistan was nothing short of devastating. The European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre originally classified the Earthquake as a magnitude 6.1 on the Richter Scale, before scaling it down to a 5.9, aligning with the United States Geological Survey’s original measurement. For reference, the magnitude difference between the two measurements is near a factor of 1.5. More than one thousand civilians have been reported dead according to local officials.

It goes without saying that by no means is the earthquake itself record-breaking. Earthquakes logging above 6.0 occur on a weekly basis on average and 5.0+ earthquakes appear multiple times daily. The real challenge this earthquake unearthed is the logistical nightmare of transporting food and resources to all of the civilians displaced in the mountainous region.

Before delving into the Taliban’s humanitarian dilemma, we must first understand the foreign occupational history of Afghanistan. Informally named the “Graveyard of Empires,” Afghanistan has notably resisted, and irreversibly damaged countless forces looking to placate the mountainous country. Examples of which include, in no particular order, the Mongolian Empire, the Mauryan Empire, the Macedonian Empire, the British Empire, the Soviet Union, the Persian Empire(various times), and most recently, the United States.

Historians today still discuss and debate the reasons for Afghanistan's apparent knack for defending itself but consensus suggests it is a combination of its rugged terrain, underdeveloped infrastructure, and prevalence of distinct identities and cultures.

These reasons acutely define the strenuous hurdles the fledgling Taliban government faces while attempting to recover from the Earthquake. It is evidently clear that there will be massive struggles given the reduction in foreign support after the United States withdrawal, and subsequent Taliban takeover. The ferocity for which refugees attempted to flee the country during the United States withdrawal clearly underlines a lack of popularity with the new system, even before it officially began. The earthquake, noticeably drawing parallels to the 2021 Haiti earthquake, will undoubtedly shake the grasp of the Taliban upon the people of Afghanistan.

For the foreseeable future, the sole advantage the Taliban have in fighting this crisis would be the massive stores of military equipment left behind by the United States military. Billions of dollars worth of humvees, airplanes, and supplies may be utilized for rescue operations depending on the Taliban’s willingness to support such efforts. Ironically, the United States military equipment may be used to a heavier extent after the United States leaves the country during a period relatively void of international conflict.

The situation on the ground in Afghanistan is dire. Many people are suffering while numerous have already lost their lives. The future of the country, and perhaps even the world, hangs on the Taliban’s actions, or a lack thereof.