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What Remains When US Ends Afghanistan ‘Eternal War’

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – Twenty years later, the United States is ending its “forever war” in Afghanistan.

Announcing a firm deadline for ouster, President Biden ended a lengthy debate, even within the US military, over timeliness. As of Saturday, the last 2,500 to 3,500 U.S. troops will remain, and will be fully withdrawn by September 11 at the latest.

Another debate will probably last much longer. Was it worth it?

Tens of thousands of Afghans have been killed since 2001 – 2,242 American soldiers, millions of Afghans have been evicted from their homes, billions of dollars have been spent on rebuilding the war. As soon as the departure begins, the Associated Press looks at what happened to the mission.

Fighting terror

2001 In the first days after the terrorist attack in the United States on September 11, the mission seemed clear. Hunt and punish criminals.

The United States has said that al-Qaeda and its leader, Osama bin Laden, were plotting to oust the Afghan security forces, which is backed by its ruling Taliban. At the time, the Taliban were a dance government with a harsh interpretation of Islamic law for their power in the West, which was disrespected under UN sanctions.

Until 9/11, the United States was watching Afghanistan from afar, occasionally asking the Taliban to hand over bin Laden, and once in 1998 fired several rockets at al-Qaeda base in eastern Afghanistan.

The United States was now conducting a campaign called Operation Enduring Freedom, with the mission of ousting the Taliban and destroying al Qaeda.

Washington turned to its only ally in Afghanistan, a collection of warlords, most of whom were former mujahideen backed by the United States in the 1980s fighting the invading Soviet Union. Gathering around the United States after 9/11, NATO joined the coalition.

A few weeks after the invasion, the US-led coalition hit the Taliban and took control of them. His leadership fled, his fighters lost control of the entire nation. Al Qaeda also fled underground, crossing into neighboring Pakistan.

The search for bin Laden lasted 10 years. Finally, he was pursued from his hiding place in Pakistan, barely 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Islamabad. A team of US Navy seals went under the cover of darkness and killed him.

But during the mediation decade, America և NATO was drawn into a sharply expanded mission. At the time, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld initially said that America was not in Afghanistan to build a nation. That would change.

In 2003, when the United States invaded Iraq, it turned its eyes away from Afghanistan. It left it to the former warlords with pre-occupied wealth and power. The first post-Taliban president, Hamid Karzai, raised the idea of ​​negotiating peace with the Taliban, and the crushed militants signaled that they wanted to reach a settlement.

But US officials have blocked any talks with the Taliban, believing the insurgency could lead to military annihilation.

Instead, the militants re-emerged in a long-running insurgency, և the United States plunged into money փող manpower to help the Afghan government fight, rebuild the war-torn country. With the flood of billions of dollars, corruption grew only in the US-backed government, and’s worsened years later.

At the same time, al Qaeda’s ability to strike at the United States and the West has been severely damaged. But the group has spread to branches in many countries fighting the insurgency.

Biden explained his decision to withdraw the last 2,500-3,500 US troops from Afghanistan, saying that America’s security concerns had grown.

“Bin Laden is dead and al-Qaeda has been degraded in Iraq, in Afghanistan,” he said, adding that the threat of terrorism had “metastasized” to a global phenomenon so as not to fight thousands of troops on the ground in one country. but with new technology. According to him, the United States must be freed from the more difficult challenges of the 21st century, including the competition between Russia and China.

Regarding the situation in Afghanistan, he said he did not see how the continuation of the US military presence would bring a turnaround. “When is the right time to leave?” Another year, two more years, another ten years? ” he said.

“” Not now “. That’s how we got here. “

WHAT TODAY FOR AFGHANISTAN?

US և NATO is leaving Afghanistan, at least half of which is directly or indirectly controlled by the Taliban, despite billions being spent on Afghan forces fighting them. Tied of corruption and regional leaders, the US-backed government is deeply distrusted by many Afghans.

Washington: its international allies are putting a lot of pressure on the government խաղաղ to reach a peaceful agreement with the Taliban movement. The hope is that both sides realize that military victory is impossible, that together they are the only way to advance peace.

The best-case scenario is a certain government, including the Taliban, that could pave the way for the formation of a future new constitutional system, including some form of elections.

The worst-case scenario is that peace talks will fail, and Afghanistan will be plunged into a new chapter in its decades-long civil war. That new stage could be more brutal than ever. Not just the Taliban, but many other warlords in the country who were fighting for power.

In the 20 years since the overthrow of the Taliban, Afghans have seen unquestionable success. But they are fragile, they are in danger of being eliminated when the Americans leave, whether they are crushed under the new government or crushed by an ongoing war.

Girls are allowed education that was banned during the Taliban movement. At least 3.6 million children, most of them girls, are still out of school, according to UNICEF.

Women work and are in parliament. Their voices are strong, but the Afghan parliament has not yet been able to pass the Violence Against Women bill because of the predominance of religious conservatives. The Women’s Institute for Women, Peace and Security has consistently ranked Afghanistan as one of the worst countries in the world for women.

Prior to the 2001 war, the Taliban had eradicated opium production in Afghanistan, according to the United Nations. Today, it produces more opium than any other opium-producing country, although the United States spends millions to eradicate drug production.

The opium industry in 2019, according to the latest data, earned 1.2 billion և 2.1 billion dollars, exceeding the value of the country’s legal exports, says someone on Sopko, the US government’s overseer for Afghan reconstruction. More than $ 14 million went to the Taliban’s treasury, which is forcing drugs across the country.

Despite billions in US humanitarian aid, more than half of the world’s 36 million people live below the World Bank’s poverty line of $ 1.90 a day; millions live no higher than that. Unemployment is 40%. The United Nations says almost half of Afghan children are at risk of starvation.

The majority of Afghans do not have high hopes for their future, according to Gallup 2018. Survey:

“Afghanistan is on the verge of a failed statehood, and that category will certainly fall immediately after the withdrawal of foreign forces if there is no better political agreement,” said Torek Farhadi, a political analyst and former government adviser. “That is the reality of Afghanistan.”

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