Was the United States’ Exit from Afghanistan Ideal, or the Cause to the Current Confusions Occurring
On August 31, 2021, American troops finally exited the country of Afghanistan after 20 long years of intervention. The result of 9 rounds of discussion in 2020 was the “agreement for bringing peace", signed by the US and the Taliban in the hope of an end to 2 decades of long and hard conflict in the country. Some believe the exit of the USA was uncalled for, and others believe it was necessary for the troops to leave.
The United States had signed a joint resolution on the 18th of September 2001, after the 9/11 attacks. This resolution allowed force to be used against those responsible for them and was later on used as a justification for the initial invasion of Afghanistan. American troops remained in the Afghan territory, looking to find Bin-Laden and other members of Al-Qaeda at the start. Eventually, the confusion that arose from the searches led to the establishment of an interim Afghan government, with the goal to create and strengthen a military ready to defend the country once the USA left. In the past few years, the USA shifted its concentration to Iraq, giving the Taliban an opportunity to rebuild and begin taking over certain areas in the countryside.
On August 15th, 2021, Taliban leaders fully took over the Afghan capital, Kabul, following the takeover of the rest of the country. On that day, numerous prisoners were released from the Pul-e-Charkhi jail, including members of Al-Qaeda and ISIS, two internationally known terrorist groups. Panic and confusion erupted, and greater conflicts emerged due to the thousands of Afghan citizens attempting to leave the country from the Kabul airport. UK and American troops were stationed at the airport, aiding the exit of Afghan citizens, but only for a limited period of time, for the American troops withdrew from Afghanistan on August 31st. The Taliban regime is currently in power, and although officials assured ideals had changed in comparison to the past, current actions are proving otherwise.
In February 2020, Doha-Qatar, an agreement was signed between American officials and Taliban Leaders. The agreement consisted of a timetable for the US withdrawal, and conditions needed in order to have a safe and peaceful leave. The Taliban leaders demanded 5000 prisoners be released from the Pul-e-Charkhi jail; in exchange, they would not violently interfere in the exit of the American troops. Former US President Donald Trump stated hours after the agreement was signed that “if bad things happen, we’ll go back.”
The 20-year stay of the American troops in the country greatly impacted its economy, costing 2 trillion dollars to maintain the troops there, while aiming to reach their goals, in that span of time. Not only this, but 3,500 American and coalition troops’ lives along with tens of thousands of Afghan lives were taken. The American Government’s initial goal was to train and equip a military strong enough to maintain power once the troops were withdrawn. But the mission failed since the Afghan army quite easily collapsed, and in some territories, there was no resistance. This was mainly due to large levels of corruption; commanders would exaggerate the number of soldiers going into the field, leaving them with insufficient food, supplies, and ammunition.
The deal was signed on the premise that the United States had served its time in Afghanistan, and as stated by Trump, that it’s “time after all these years to bring our people back home”. It was said that the American troops had done their part by eliminating several terrorists and that it was time for that role to be passed on to others. Trump assured that if anything bad were to happen, the USA would take action once more, paying close attention to the Taliban’s every move.
Consequences of the deal included the Taliban Regime being fully in power in Afghanistan, leaving women in fear of their lives in the years to come. The United States signed the deal aware that the Taliban takeover would be a possibility, and some believe the deal signed was a terrible decision that will solely negatively impact Afghanistan. An example of this is the UK defense secretary, describing the deal signing as “rotten”. Many say that the US troops stationed in Afghanistan only led to more lives lost, and conflict could’ve been avoided without them in the first place.
It is impossible to judge whether the Taliban takeover will lead the Afghan country into chaos or not. With the lack of support from American troops in the country, the Afghan military is now on its own and the Taliban has full power. The controversy surrounding the exit of American troops remains, but measures have been taken and it is crucial to hope for a secure future for the marvelous country of Afghanistan.