Written by Quinn Bourret (News Writer)
The United States has begun the withdrawal from Afghanistan. Earlier this month, President Biden announced the US would be leaving Afghanistan by September 11, exactly two decades after 9/11. If completed, the US’s longest war will come to a close.
Afghanistan has been engulfed in a civil war since 1978. The Taliban, a far right extremist Islamic group would come out on top of it and take control over most of the country. After 9/11, based on their ties to Al Qaeda, the US and the UK invaded, liberating much of the country. But over the last twenty years, the Taliban have retaken much of the country, and now control half of it. There is a very real fear that, much like Vietnam, the Afghan government will fall when the US leaves.
Trump signed a peace deal that mandated the US leave Afghanistan, under the condition that the Taliban avoid attacking American troops, as well as that they cut all ties with Al Qaeda. The original date for withdrawal was May, but Biden has pushed it out a number of months.
Currently, only equipment is being shipped out. Obsolete equipment will be destroyed, and much of the rest of it will be given to the Afghan government. After a few weeks, troops will start moving out as well. In the meantime, as many as 1000 soldiers more will be sent to Afghanistan to ensure a safe withdrawal and an aircraft carrier has been stationed nearby to provide protection to US troops as they leave. There is a good reason for it; the Taliban has threatened to attack US troops after May 1, the original date. They rejected Biden’s request for an extension and only heard about his decision through social media.
According to BBC, the US withdrawal leaves a power vacuum in Afghanistan that nearby nations might want to exploit. Furthermore, the lack of stability and the violence in the region is a constant threat to neighbors. Russia, India, Pakistan, and China all have interests in the region. China has worked with Afghan government, training their forces, and potentially will send their own forces to the region. Although it has not happened yet, it is quite possible that the Taliban will encourage terrorism attacks in Xinjiang, where China holds thousands of Muslim Uygurs in camps.
The US withdrawal holds many possibilities for the future of the area. Afghanistan might come under complete control of the Taliban. It might come under Chinese influence. The future of the region remains to be seen, but it will have considerable consequences on the people living there.