The commander of the American-led mission in Afghanistan, General Austin S. Miller, told the press that security efforts to protest against Taliban encroachment are diminishing during the U.S.-led NATO military withdrawal process, according to the New York Times. Miller has also called the withdrawal process in itself a success, but attacks came from the Taliban which targeted Afghan security forces and civilians. Remaining U.S. forces are located between Kabul and Bagram Air Base. Days away from completing the Afghan withdrawal, with exception to remaining security around the embassy, Miller warns, “civil war is certainly a path that can be visualized if it continues on the trajectory it’s on,” the New York Times notes.
Estimations from the Pentagon show that the Taliban currently controls roughly 20% of Afghanistan’s district centers, and a United Nations report indicates that there are 500 Al Qaeda fighters in the country despite the Taliban’s public denial of its own cooperation with the group. Reuters notes that prior to U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s upcoming meeting with his counterpart in Germany, the European nation announced the completion of its military withdrawal after having the second largest contingent of troops in Afghanistan. General Miller predicts that an absence of unity within the Afghan government will lead to “very hard times,” according to BBC News. President Joe Biden promised top Afghan leaders “sustained” assistance even after the completion of the military withdrawal.
Military withdrawals allude to realities in which either the conflict is won and the soldiers coming home are part of a victorious team, or the withdrawal is a sombering drawdown in light of an unwinnable war. As for the American intervention in Afghanistan, it is unclear. But one thing is certain, America’s continued presence in the country has not proven to further decline the power of the Taliban. To protect troops after a 20-year-long war, the United States is rightfully withdrawing troops; however, it is incumbent upon the world’s most powerful nations to continue the protection of Afghanistan through peaceful, diplomatic, and logistical means that make it less likely for the Taliban to overrun the country. As President Biden’s promise to withdraw from the country is being fulfilled, it becomes more questionable if Afghanistan’s government can defend itself against a resurgent Taliban.
The United States has been militarily involved in Afghanistan for almost twenty years. On April 14, 2021, President Biden vowed to end America’s longest war by September 11, a deadline taking place exactly twenty years after the most destructive terrorist attack on American soil orchestrated by Osama Bin Laden. Afghanistan, at that time, was controlled by the Taliban, a group that hosted a safe haven for terrorists conducting attacks against other nations globally. Both Biden and Secretary of State Tony Blinken stress the commitment of the United States to funnel aid and counsel to Afghanistan’s government in an effort to prevent a familiar extremist takeover. The Taliban has a history of harshly suppressing women and dissidents, using extremist Islamic doctrine as a fundamental basis for their seemingly omnipotent rule over a vulnerable people.
The continuation of American military involvement will not secure peace in the region, as NBC points out the renewed advance of the Taliban. It is reasonable to suspect a grim future without an American security bulwark stationed around Kabul and in the nation. But the U.S.-Afghan alliance must be as vigilant and cooperative as ever to ensure both a smooth withdrawal and the provision of aid and advice to a country whose future remains in question. Although tension exists between the White House and the Pentagon as Biden pushes forward with withdrawal, General Miller’s comments need to be taken seriously about Afghanistan’s future.