The reality of an imminent American withdrawal from Afghanistan differs from its long-anticipated likelihood. Already the anxiety engendered by this new certainty in the capital, Kabul, and other urban centers is making itself felt.
Afghans’ fear is multifaceted, evoked by the Taliban’s grim record, bitter and vivid memories of civil war and the widely acknowledged weakness of the current government. These conditions in turn push Afghan thinking in one direction: The country’s government and armed forces won’t survive without American support. Many American policymakers, security officials and diplomats concur with this gloomy view. Just this week, the U.S. intelligence assessment, presented to Congress, suggested as much: “The Afghan government will struggle to hold the Taliban at bay if the coalition withdraws support.”
During their five years in power, 1996-2001, the Taliban operated one of the world’s most oppressive and theocratic regimes, and there is little in their public posture and behavior during the group’s years of insurgency to suggest much has changed, at least ideologically.
In Afghanistan’s cities, the new middle-class society that emerged under the American security umbrella over the last 20 years dread a return to that era of rule.
some analysts say, there is some imperative to find political solutions to achieving their desired return to power.
And, most important, there are too many potential centers of armed resistance that will not go down quietly. And that in turn would lead to an intensification of the civil war that is already consuming much of the country.
With the Biden’s administration’s announcement on Wednesday of a complete withdrawal of American forces by Sept. 11, there are still several questions that will need to be answered between now and then.
What does an American withdrawal mean for women and minorities in Afghanistan?
believe they have already militarily won the war with Afghan forces, and they may be right.
Afghan soldiers and police have abandoned dozens of checkpoints, while others have been taken by force, while the attrition rate among security forces is considered unsustainable by Western and Afghan security officials.
Still, as long as Afghanistan’s president, Ashraf Ghani. can continue to maintain his elite special force of 20,000-30,000 men and pay them, thanks to the Americans, he may be able to maintain his hold on power, for a time. The Americans fund the Afghan military to the tune of $4 billion a year; if those funds are cut by a Congress unwilling to pay for somebody else’s war, Mr. Ghani is in trouble.
Also likely to be emboldened by the American withdrawal, and constituting a further threat to the Ghani government, are the forces controlled by the country’s numerous and potent regional leaders. These power brokers may now be tempted to cut deals with the side that clearly has the upper hand, the Taliban, or buckle down and try to secure their small portions of the country and again take up the mantle of warlords.