One year ago, the United States ended its longest war in Afghanistan. It was the end because the US pulled all military (and many other) personnel from the country. Following the US action, the Taliban quickly took control of the country. The speed of this takeover was surprising to the world.
US involvement in Afghanistan is the lowest it has been in decades. Before leaving last August, the US extended significant resources including tens of thousands of troops to try and maintain security and provide training to local military, and also investing billions of dollars into the country’s security. The continual extension of resources is a partial cause for the current situation. The US created an aid-dependent Afghan state. Then in 2020, the Trump administration reached a deal with the Taliban, promising to leave the country if the Taliban cut off relations with other terrorist groups. The peace agreement provided a short amount of time for the US to evacuate troops and for the Afghan government to stabilize. The Biden administration lengthened this evacuation date, but it was still a fiasco to remove people from the country in time. In this negotiation, the Taliban had the stronger hand because they sensed the US’s eagerness to leave Afghanistan and hence had little incentive to compromise politically in other ways.
The Taliban took over Afghanistan in about ten days—surprising the world with their speed. The Taliban shook the state of the country, and created a massive humanitarian crisis. At least 32 journalists have been detained by the Taliban, and some female humanitarian workers have been restrained. The Taliban has also been harmful toward women's and girls' rights. Following the takeover, secondary schools were to only reopen (on September 18th) for boys, not girls.
The humanitarian and economic crises have put about 20 million Afghans at risk of starvation, creating some necessity for cooperation with the Taliban. Shortly following the Taliban takeover, the US also had to cooperate with the Taliban to get people outside of Afghanistan. This included US citizens in the country and Afghans working with the government that wanted to leave. These two issues are what have dominated US policy attention in Afghanistan. The US is
While the US only has two main policy points, they are also worried about the humanitarian crisis. They join the rest of the world in this stress. The primary point the world is able to negotiate with Afghanistan is recognizing the Taliban as the government. The Taliban have been restricted from several international agreements because they are unrecognized. While they offer their desire to be a part of the international governments, they are often refused because the country has suffered under their administration. Additionally, giving them recognition would remove a large negotiating block from the international world.
Zaawahiri was the second in command of Al-Qaeda. During the end of the 1900s and the beginning of the 2000s, he had significant role playing on many broadcasts. The US attempted many missions to deal with Zawahiri. On July 31st, he died from a US drone strike in Afghanistan. The US heralds the death as a victory—especially after the chaotic withdrawal a year ago. However, Zawahiri’s influence decreased as new groups (like the Islamic State) gained influence. While this is a victory for the US, it calls into question the peace agreement originally created with the Taliban. There was one Al-Qaeda leader within the borders of Afghanistan. The question is will the US use this as a reason to participate more actively in Afghanistan, or will the US continue to avoid more interaction in Afghanistan?
The US spent a lot of time trying to get out of Afghanistan. This means the US will be hesitant to involve themselves in the government or militarily. This diplomatic technique provides more leverage for the Taliban with their communication with the US. Additionally, it is plausible that the US will be more hesitant to offer more aid until the Taliban provides more rights to the people. Independent of diplomacy, people within Afghanistan can/will start to request more from the government as they become more established.