Despite a resurge in Taliban dominance, the US is withdrawing from its longest ongoing war. President Biden defends his decision to remove all troops from Afghanistan by August 31.
What We Know:
- In April, President Joe Biden pledged to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan. Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, US troops have remained on bases in Afghanistan.
- Last week, US troops suddenly departed from the Bagram Airbase, where more than 100,000 US troops have passed through. Coordination for departure was done at higher levels of government, so the Afghan base commander did not receive a primary briefing. Following their departure, looters swarmed this airfield in Bagram, the former center of American military operations in Afghanistan. Reports suggest US troops left before Afghan troops arrived.
- A Taliban takeover sweeps across Afghanistan. The Taliban recently seized 120 districts, conquering territories while acquiring weaponry. Militants march across the country and force Afghan troops to surrender. US withdrawal is celebrated by the Taliban, which threatens to topple the Afghan government.
- The resurgence of Taliban power comes amid a United Nations report released showing levels of harm inflicted on Afghans. From January 1 to March 31, 43.5 percent of civilian deaths were caused by the Taliban. Violence against journalists, intellectuals, and women is prominent.
- Although the Taliban now control many territories, commander of the Afghan National Army Gen. Haibatullah Alizai pledged to recapture the territories lost to the Taliban. US withdrawal leads to fears of civil war eruption in Afghanistan, as expressed by US general Austin S. Miller.
- President Biden acknowledged the potential drawbacks of leaving Afghanistan. He argues, however, that the cost, time, and risk to American soldiers outweigh the benefits of remaining in Afghanistan.
- Biden insists that the US will nonetheless support the Afghan government while remaining diplomatic. In reference to US withdrawal, “I trust the capacity of the Afghan military, who is better trained, better equipped, and more and more competent in terms of conducting war…It’s up to the people of Afghanistan to decide on what government they want, not for us to impose the government on them. No country’s ever been able to do that.”
Taliban forces advance toward the capital. Afghan National Army Gen. Haibatullah Alizai says the Afghan military will fight back to protect Kabul.