The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan is set to be completed by September 11, 2021. Yet, the dramatically escalating trajectories, along with the Taliban’s sudden and easy entry into the capital after the collapse of the Afghan army, coincided with the escape of Head of State Ashraf Ghani, are indications that the “Islamic Emirate” might be established before that date, and that the U.S. military presence was brought to an end overnight!
Through an organized campaign launched in parallel with the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country, the Taliban took control of Afghanistan city after another, sounding the alarm in most Western capitals, which yet took no action. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had previously warned that the situation in Afghanistan was "spinning out of control”, with serious consequences for civilians. In fact, it did get out of control, as reportedly some 250,000 Afghans have been forced to flee their homes as a result of the fighting, besides thousands who were trapped in their cities, finding no means of escape, all threatened by Taliban reprisals for working with the previous government or for contracting with the U.S. military, or simply for their opposition to the Movement.
It seems that in no more than a few months, the Taliban will be able to restore the status quo ante before the U.S. intervention in the country, erasing 20 years of U.S. efforts in particular, and the international community in general, and bringing back to square one a conflict that claimed the lives of more than 2,300 U.S. troops and caused the injury of 20,000 others, as well as the deaths of more than 450 Britons and hundreds of other nationalities, to say nothing of the loss of more than 60,000 of Afghan armed forces besides tens of thousands of civilians. Financially speaking, U.S. taxpayers alone paid nearly a trillion dollars in that war for Biden’s administration to announce the withdrawal with “no regrets” despite all the ensuing breakdown of security and humanitarian conditions inside Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, in a tweet posted to her official Twitter account on November 15, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote that President Biden “should be thanked for the clarity of the objectives and actions of his statement on Afghanistan.” However, many mistakes have actually been made, with the withdrawal being the biggest mistake, not only in terms of Afghanistan’s domestic timing, but also in terms of the general situation in the Middle East and the extreme polarization there, not to mention the implications of this withdrawal internally, regionally and internationally, some of which had begun to unfold even before events escalated in such a sudden and suspicious manner.
As a matter of fact, the United States has fought terrorism in Afghanistan only militarily without an "ideological war" or any treatment of popular grievances, which undoubtedly means that terrorism will return, perhaps more violently and bloodily. What is more serious is that the Taliban's re-emergence will give hope to other terrorist organizations in the Middle East, such as al-Qaeda and ISIS, which will be ready to re-establish themselves once the United States or international forces leave any other territory in the region. Just as the Taliban may find international or regional allies such as Erdogan's "Islamist" regime in Turkey, so will its likes.
Erdogan is willing to meet with the Taliban leader— a Turkish prior recognition of the movement even before it takes control of the entire country, not heeding any position that the United States may take or the sanctions that European countries would be waving; for Erdogan wants international recognition for his role in Afghanistan. He will not be alone, however, as Pakistan, which the Afghan government accuses of not standing up against Taliban activities, sees Afghanistan as a starting point for changing balances in the region.