by Anirudh Bandla

The great and bloody US war on terror in Afghanistan is finally at its end with the US withdrawing all its troops and equipment by September 11th 2021, the 20th anniversary of the infamous 9/11 attacks on the US. In this article we shall explore what the US has achieved in its 20 year long odyssey in the Asian nation. To begin with it all started as a reaction to the attacks on US soil by the Afghan based Al-Qaeda, a terror group led by Osama Bin Laden. In response to these attacks, the US responded with the invasion of Afghanistan which was being ruled Taliban. Taliban had consolidated power after a bloody civil war in which it defeated the Northern Alliance with the support of the Pakistani army.

The US and its allies invaded Afghanistan and overthrew the Taliban government in December 2001. Since then, there has been a two decade long insurgency resulting in thousands of civilian deaths all across the nation. The US administration, tired of this long protracted conflict with no clear end in sight started to plan its exit from the war torn country and this was made possible with the signing of the Doha Agreement with the Taliban and the process of withdrawal is already under way. The main issue to notice here was that the Afghan government was not a party in the agreement and even though the Taliban has refrained from any violence against the withdrawing US troops, it has drastically intensified its campaign against the Afghan National Army. Since the beginning of the withdrawal the Taliban has been capturing more and more territory with 30 provinces already captured and about the same number on the verge of collapsing.

The 350,000 strong Afghan National Army, trained and armed mostly by the US is struggling to fill the void left behind by the withdrawal of the foreign troops as most of the support and fire power that helped the Afghans in most of their campaign is not available anymore and the maintenance of the assets that are available is also now under pressure as most of the newer American assets of the Afghan Air force was maintained by contractors from the US who are withdrawing along with the troops. Some intelligence agency officials are estimating that the Taliban will most probably take Kabul in six months within the completion of US withdrawal. As the US is adamant on withdrawal within the stipulated deadline of September 11, the future of Afghanistan and its people hangs in the balance. It is feared that the progress made in the country especially in the field of women empowerment is going to be lost forever if the Taliban comes back to power.

The resurgence of Taliban isn’t Afghanistan’s internal matter only as reports already suggest the resurgence of Al-Qaeda and other terror groups and even as the situation seems to be dire, Afghanistan is standing up with many people’s militias being formed to aid the government forces to keep the Taliban at bay. Some think it is just a matter of time before Taliban takes over the whole country and some think that Afghanistan will persevere but only time can tell what the future holds for Afghanistan and her people.

Anirudh Bandla tracks military and aerospace issues closely. Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of IDN