Biden announces complete withdrawal from Afghanistan by September 11th, 2021

Twenty years after the September 11th attacks, the American war in Afghanistan will come to an end.

Bagram, Afghanistan October 27, 2006. Dexter D. Clouden / Department of Defense

The intervention in Afghanistan has spanned 20 long years, during which the Taliban waged war against the U.S.-backed Afghani government. The U.S. involved several powerful nations in this intervention, invoking NATO’s collective defense clause for the first and only time. Yet war-weariness and a recent reversal of fortunes have turned the tide in the Taliban’s favor. With the near-imminent collapse of the current Afghani government, the Taliban has all but proclaimed victory, with the morale of Afghani Security Forces collapsing.

Since the Trump-Taliban deal, the United States had agreed to withdraw troops by May 1st, 2021, in exchange for a cessation of hostilities against foreign forces and severance of ties with international terrorist groups. Though the Taliban has certainly not improved its reputation of terror and violence, President Ghani’s refusal to cooperate has prompted the United States to end a war of 20 years.

The President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, has ruled since September 29th, 2014. An educated scholar and writer, he has become distanced from his people, as Taliban troops have advanced deeper into government-controlled territory. Often refusing to work with the United States and the Taliban during peace talks, he has dismissed the idea of giving up power, a position which has put him at odds with both the Taliban and his people. Many still remember Kabul’s brutal takeover by the Taliban in 1996, establishing the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, and hope that the government and the Taliban can reach a peaceful resolution. A Columbia University and Kabul University graduate, President Ghani is undoubtedly a learned man, but his inaction and lack of compromise have doomed Afghanistan. His refusal to cooperate has been a significant roadblock to negotiations, and his close allies have grown exasperated with his behavior.

Recently, Secretary Antony Blinken sent President Ghani a very pointed letter, asking President Ghani to “understand the urgency of my tone” and request his “urgent leadership” regarding negotiations with the Taliban. The letter was worded in a way many Afghan officials considered harsh but deserved. President Ghani’s circle has grown increasingly smaller, as he dismisses those he perceives to undermine his authority.

Since 2001 ~150,000 soldiers have been killed on either side, as well as ~38,480 civilians. Currently, the Taliban is just 10 miles from the capital and intends to re-establish their Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Considering 80% of Afghanistan’s expenses coming from abroad, Afghanistan’s government will be hard-pressed to continue fighting with no American support. With the fall of the last few government cities, the war will be over.

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