Middle East, Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Afghanistan

Middle East, Taliban

Withdrawal from Afghanistan is the right call, but at what price?

The invasion became a Sisyphean endeavour but many Afghans worry about what it means for the Taliban's return of power and influence

4/15/2021 4:13:00 PM

'Many in the country are doubtless concerned about a return to the civil war and warlordism that scourged the country during the 1990s'

The invasion became a Sisyphean endeavour but many Afghans worry about what it means for the Taliban 's return of power and influence

Many American Presidents have come into power declaring they will end their country's involvement in the conflict, only to find themselves continually stuck in the mire. Having repeatedly pushed for a shrunken US presence during the Obama administration, Mr Biden is now finally in a position to force the decision through.

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It is exaggerated to say this is the end of American power, but it does highlight the limitations of a form of conflict that dominated the 2000s.While the initial impetus for going into Afghanistan was to destroy Al-Qaeda and punish those who supported it, as time went on it became clear that what the Western alliance was getting into was in fact merely the latest phase in a conflict that has been troubling Afghanistan for decades.

Trying to resolve the larger conflict was something that would likely take generations of state building and transformation - none of which was necessarily wanted or accepted by everybody in Afghanistan.The invasion became a Sisyphean endeavour being carried out while people died, vast sums of money were spent and political capital slowly ebbed away. headtopics.com

The other key lesson is being learned by insurgent and terrorist organizations, who can see once again that by simply holding on, victory against even the mightiest military machine is possible.While the direct threat to the west from terrorist groups in Afghanistan is vastly reduced (though not entirely gone away, there is a case currently on trial in Germany of a cell who were talking to the Islamic State in Afghanistan), Al-Qaeda will undoubtedly celebrate the victory loudly and the Taliban will no doubt present themselves as victors. Terrorists may gather again in the ungoverned spaces that emerge from the withdrawal.

Nevertheless, it is far from clear that we will see another attack on the scale of September 11, 2001. Intelligence agencies are far savvier about the potential of such threats and while withdrawal means coverage of Afghanistan will go down, it will not entirely go away.

Within Afghanistan, people are concerned about the Taliban's return of power and influence.An organization with a medievalist outlook that has not significantly changed in the past twenty years, it still clearly has substantial appeal among Afghans.

Many in the country are doubtless concerned about a return to the civil war and warlordism that scourged the country during the 1990s. Both of these are sadly possible outcomes.But this is not the same country as it was before. And it is not clear that all the gains of the past two decades will immediately be lost. headtopics.com

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Regional powers still have a vested interest in ensuring that some stability exists, and that violence in the country does not get too out of hand.The key question in all of this, however, is what the Afghan people want and how their leaders will help them achieve it. The ultimate answer to Afghanistan’s long troubles will only ever come from within the country.

Read more: The Telegraph »

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