Updated: Jan 13
From early July, US troops have been continuing to withdrawal from Afghanistan with an official move-out date of August 31st. As our presence was severely weakened, the Taliban began to take control, seizing its first province in early August. Breaching the signed agreement they had with the US. Since, they have continued to gain power, surrendering the Afghan military, demoting, and torturing women, and killing anyone they deem a threat. All while our military abandons millions worth of weaponry.
September 11, 2001, was a day that will never be forgotten. It was a day our nation was tragically attacked by an outside terrorist organization known as Al Qa’ida. In response, President Bush promptly sent our military to Afghanistan declaring a war on terror.
“On my orders, the United States military has begun strikes against al-Qaida terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
These carefully targeted actions are designed to disrupt the use of Afghanistan as a terrorist base of operations and to attack the military capability of the Taliban regime.”
-Former President George W. Bush
At the time, the Taliban regime held power in the country, thereby exercising Sharia law. This included strict and cruel practices of law from Islamic tradition based on “extremist” interpretations of the Quran and Hadith. Their cease included horrific ethnic massacres including one that lasted 2 days on August 8, 1998, where they rushed the city of Mazar-i-Sharif killing at least 2,000 but possibly many more according to Human Rights Watch. They sought to kill anyone adjacent or dismissive of their beliefs.
As we had prompt success in disempowering the Taliban government in Afghanistan, we turned the country over to our Afghan allies. Thus giving more rights and security to civilians. It was not our intention to build a democracy-based government in the country, but that’s the path it started to head to. We have inadvertently had that effect on countries we’ve gone to war with in the past, including, Japan, North Korea, and Nazi Germany.
However, while maintaining our presence in Afghanistan, it was our way to ensure that the terrorist organizations we sought to derail, stayed derailed. Just like we did in Pakistan, Iraq, Northern Africa, the Philippines, and Yemen.
While a pullback of US Troops has been a goal for some years now, instant pullouts would have disastrous implications for the country. Such of what we are seeing now. Turning into a never-ending war, we needed to do something as far as putting a light at the end of the tunnel. There being only 1 active duty death in Afghanistan from 2016-2020, it has been no urgency.
On February 29, 2020, President Trump signed a 4 part agreement with the Taliban. These parts, as cited from the document itself, are as follows,
1. Guarantees and enforcement mechanisms that will prevent the use of the soil of Afghanistan by any group or individual against the security of the United States and its allies.
2. Guarantees, enforcement mechanisms, and announcement of a timeline for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Afghanistan.
3. After the announcement of guarantees for a complete withdrawal of foreign forces and timeline in the presence of international witnesses, and guarantees and the announcement in the presence of international witnesses that Afghan soil will not be used against the security of the United States and its allies, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan which is not recognized by the United States as a state and is known as the Taliban will start intra-Afghan negotiations with Afghan sides on March 10, 2020, which corresponds to Rajab 15, 1441 on the Hijri Lunar calendar and Hoot 20, 1398 on the Hijri Solar calendar.
4. A permanent and comprehensive ceasefire will be an item on the agenda of the intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiations. The participants of intra-Afghan negotiations will discuss the date and modalities of a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire, including joint implementation mechanisms, which will be announced along with the completion and agreement over the future political roadmap of Afghanistan.
The official date set as the withdrawal was May 1, 2021. While the Taliban instantly breached parts of the agreement, the US still pushed to pursue their side of the deal. On September 3rd, the last of 5000 Taliban prisoners were released allowing for peace talks to begin. By January 15, 2021, we went from 13,000 troops in February 2020, to 2,500.
Once President Biden took office, he sought to continue our goal to remove all troops. However, on February 3rd, the Afghan study group made an announcement suggesting the US delay its withdrawal, waiting for the Taliban to fulfill its consideration in the deal, before a withdrawal of US troops. Otherwise, the Taliban gets its prisoners back, and rises to power once again, while the US would get no remaining benefit from the past two decades of fighting. Afghanistan would revert to rule by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, better knowns as the Taliban.
6 months later, that is precisely what happened. Biden made no mention of adhering to the suggestions from The Afghan study group. A group that was established by Congress in late 2019, and tasked with the purpose to “consider the implications of a peace settlement, or the failure to settle, on U.S. policy, resources, and commitments in Afghanistan.”
In a speech on April 14, Biden says he “inherited a diplomatic agreement” between the U.S. and the Taliban that all U.S. forces would be out by May 1. “It is perhaps not what I would have negotiated myself, but it was an agreement made by the United States government, and that means something,” Biden says, adding that final troop withdrawal would begin on May 1. Simultaneously setting the deadline as September 11. How about that irony. Giving Afghanistan back to the Taliban, on a deal that they have shown no sign of adhering to, on the same day that we were viciously attacked by a terrorist group they protected. It does sound promising that their morality has changed, while they continue to kill and demote civilians under their rule. Afghans are in a state of panic, doing all they can to evade their country before full Taliban tyranny. Part of what has made America so great is our ability and fulfilling morality to help other nations in times of severe struggle. Who are we when we leave 39 million civilians to a violent government, just to take back 2,500 troops?
Trump signed an agreement, but when one party is failing to fulfill their obligations, you have no obligation to fulfill yours. We were warned about the implications of such a rapid withdrawal. That’s why we left our weaponry and helped the Afghan military prepare for invasion in major cities. I get that a withdrawal was necessary, but there are certainly alternative ways that would mitigate such damages we are seeing now.
After two weeks of the Taliban taking control of the provinces, Kabul, a city of just under 3 million, has fallen. This includes thousands of Americans and many more innocent civilians that have fought alongside our efforts against the Taliban. While these individuals have the correct credentials to safely pass through Taliban set-up checkpoints, they have been getting beaten, stripped of their passports, and sent back. While in direct violation of agreed-upon terms, nobody has been able to rival them. All Americans have been advised to stay low and wait for further instructions for plans to evacuate. Meanwhile, as the Afghan military has surrendered forces, the Taliban has been looting all their US-issued weaponry. This includes M-16 fully automatic rifles, M4 grenade launching attachments, bulk ammunition, Humvees, full combat suits, night vision goggles which have given us our greatest advantage, as well as Blackhawk helicopters they can sell off for reverse engineering purposes.
Late last month, they released this photograph mocking the iconic WW II photo of the US raising the flag over Iwo Jima.
In addition to the above, the Taliban is going door to door, killing those who have assisted the US in any measure, as well as going on searches for anybody affiliated with the Christian religion. They are using white paint to cover any images of women in the cities, shutting down schools, and banning access to television. While they attempt to persuade the media they have peaceful intentions through public interviews, their actions appear to be nothing but misleading. They continue to stand firm on America's Aug. 31 deadline, making clear that further stay will have consequences.