Watch CBS News

Taking over Afghanistan was the easy part. Now the Taliban must figure out how to run it.

Taliban turn to governing Afghanistan
Day after defeating U.S. military, Taliban now faces challenges in governing a divided nation 02:28

Doha, Qatar — The Taliban continued celebrating the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan on Tuesday, proudly showing off equipment the U.S. military left behind. But as CBS News correspondent Charlie D'Agata reports, taking over the country was the easy part. Now it must figure out how to run it.

The Taliban has said it will announce the leadership of Afghanistan's new government within just a few days, after what it said were consultations with former government officials and others. One thing the new government will not feature, according to a senior Taliban official who spoke to BBC News, is any women in cabinet roles.

But convincing the rest of the world, and Afghans, that it's capable of running a country will require more from the Taliban than political appointments and announcements.

Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, the last ground held by U.S. forces before they left completely on Monday evening, is a case in point. Taliban members holding American-supplied guns have popped up in videos online bad-mouthing the now-vacant U.S. forces.

The next phase of U.S. entanglement with Afghanistan 06:29

"As you can see, these infidels have destroyed the entire airport," one Taliban fighter says in one clip. "We had a team ready to fix this mess... now that the Americans have left we are ready to clean it up."

The Kabul airport had been turned into a graveyard for U.S. military hardware, and bereft of the technical know-how to even get a reliable air traffic control system in place, the Taliban have turned to Qatar and Turkey to help them get it back up and running.

That cooperation appeared to be well underway as the first flight — a Qatari military plane — touched down on Wednesday. It was the first plane in or out since the U.S. evacuation efforts ended.  

CBS News understands the plane was carrying Qatari aviation experts who will assess the technical status of the Kabul airport with a view to resuming operations. Qatar continues to take the lead in dealing with the Taliban, the country's influential Foreign Minister adding his voice to the growing callings for the Taliban to ensure "safe passage" for those wanting to leave Afghanistan.

The Taliban must also manage the financial system of a country that has relied heavily for years on foreign cash infusions. In addition to the cut-off of new financial resources, most notably from the United States, the Taliban regime will also struggle to access billions of dollars of cash reserves held by the U.S. government and the International Monetary Fund.

What should happen to the U.S. funds intended for Afghan security forces? 06:04

With Afghans fearing a precipitous drop in the value of their currency, and the possibility that the Taliban will try to curb that fall by imposing limits on withdrawals, there's been a run on banks in the country. Panicked people have flocked to branches, some waiting in lines for days, trying to take out their money.

"I should build a future. I should study," said one man waiting to make a withdrawal and worrying about the prospects of life under the Taliban. "Definitely if the situation are like that (sic), you should stay for one week just to take 10,000 Afghan dollars from bank. It's not possible to live here."

With many workers too terrified to return to work for fear of angering the country's gun-wielding new leaders, even basic necessities like electricity and water are under threat.

Taliban-Equipment-Fact Focus
Taliban special force fighters arrive inside the Hamid Karzai International Airport after the U.S. military's withdrawal, in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 31, 2021. Khwaja Tawfiq Sediqi/AP

The United Nations has already warned that an "absolute catastrophe" is looming of economic ruin in Afghanistan, and possibly even famine.

The United Nations said that Afghanistan was "marching toward starvation," as it could functionally run out of food in just a month. 

On Tuesday, crowds attended a mock funeral held by the Taliban featuring coffins draped in the flags of the U.S. and its coalition allies. But as the celebrations subside, the country may soon be facing more funerals of its own, unless the Taliban can quickly get on top of some pressing management problems.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.