After almost 2 decades and more than a trillion dollars spent by the United States in Afghanistan following its entry in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks, Afghanistan has fallen to the Taliban rule once again.
The Taliban took over Kabul in a Blitzkrieg ending the rule of Afghan government and putting an end to US’ longest-running war. The capture of Afghanistan faster that than what officials had expected. But as Joe Biden’s September 11 exit deadline loomed, the number of American troops decreased, making room for the Taliban to work its way in Afghanistan.
On the 20th anniversary of 9/11 attacks, when the US started its war on terror, things have completed a whole circle: Taliban is back to rule Afghanistan, UN designated terrorists are back in the government and the war against terrorism yielded little results.
Here is what Taliban’s victory means for US:
Loss of American Lives
In the last twenty years of war in Afghanistan, 2,448 American soldiers have died in the country and 3,846 people contracted by the US. Around 66,000 Afghan national military and police also lost their lives in the war. Apart from soldiers, 72 journalists and 444 aid workers also lost their lives. The US is also reported to have spent USD 2.6 trillion on military operations and development assistance in Afghanistan.
Biden’s approval at the lowest
After the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, which completed on August 31, Joe Biden’s approval rating as the president of the US is at an all-time low. A report in Hindustan Times quoted study from Marist National Poll with NPR and PBS Newshour as saying that Joe Biden’s approval rating has fallen to a new low of 43 per cent, the lowest since he took office in January this year.
Majority of the Americans disapprove the way Biden handled the foreign policy, with a large section terming the US’ role in Afghanistan a “failure”. While Joe Biden’s approval rating as the US president is currently at 43 per cent, about 56 per cent of Americans disapprove of his handling of foreign policy.
Guantanamo Bay Prisoners in New Taliban Govt
Four of Taliban’s fiercest men received senior positions in the Taliban’s new cabinet in the Afghan government. All of them had previously been detained by the US at Guantanamo Bay, and were released as part of a prisoner swap for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in 2014.
The Taliban appointed Noorullah Noori as acting minister of borders and tribal affairs, Abdul Haq Wasiq as acting intelligence director, Khairullah Khair as acting minister of information and culture and Mohammad Fazil Mazloom to deputy minister of defense.
Terror Threat Looms
US State Department has reiterated its concerns about the record of some of the men in the new Afghan government and repeated its expectation that Afghanistan will not threaten other nations and will allow humanitarian access into the country. It has warned of more terror attacks in the future after Talban takeover.
The US surrender to the Taliban is inspiring every jihadist group and sympathiser across the world. Once again, from their perspective, a superpower has thrown up its hands in the face of unwavering jihad in Afghanistan. The Afghan lands have already being seen as hotbed for terrorism with the recent attacks on Kabul airport by the Islamic State Khorasan (IS-K) suicide bomber killing 170 Afghans and 13 US soldiers.
US’ Govt Under Attack by Opposition
Biden’s political opponents, including former President Donald Trump, are already accusing the Biden administration of a shoddy vetting job, feeding anti-immigrant sentiment that has increasingly defined Republican politics. Paired with the chaotic scenes of death from the Kabul airport, the Afghanistan withdrawal could loom heavy over Democrats’ efforts to maintain their congressional majorities in the midterm elections, The Print said in a report.
US’ Rivals ‘Cosying’ to Taliban
After the US withdrawal, China and Taliban have already met a couple of times. For China, Afghanistan is a land of opportunity to expand its Belt and Road infrastructure initiative — which the previous US-backed Afghan governments have rejected — and tap into deposits of copper, iron ore, lithium and rare earth minerals that fuel high-tech manufacturing. Experts say that China’s willingness to ‘throw an economic lifeline to the Taliban’ is one of the biggest questions facing a new Afghanistan.
Russia too has invested in relationships with the Taliban, hosting a delegation of Taliban representatives in Moscow, and the departure of the U.S. has dealt not only an embarrassment to the U.S. but the opportunity to grow Russia’s sphere of influence.
Though it is not racing to recognise the Taliban as Afghanistan’s rulers, but there has been a softening of rhetoric. BBC quoted Russia’s state news agency Tass saying that Kremlin has replaced the term “terrorist” with “radical” in its reports on the Taliban.