When US President Joe Biden announced in April that all American forces would leave Afghanistan by September, we were among those who predicted that the result would be a disaster for the countrys 38 million people, particularly its women, according to a Washington Post op-ed.
“Now, that tragedy appears to be unfolding more quickly than even many of the pessimists imagined. In recent weeks, Taliban forces have captured dozens of districts in a nationwide offensive, surrounding several provincial capitals and blocking key roads into Kabul. On Tuesday, the top US military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Austin S. Miller, met reporters and warned with remarkable bluntness that ‘civil war is certainly a path that can be visualized’, adding ‘that should be a concern for the world’,” the op-ed piece said.
According to the Washington Post, it should be a concern for Biden, who inherited a difficult situation from his predecessor Donald Trump but chose to end the US mission rather than fix it.
The President should reconsider the hasty withdrawal he ordered in light of the impending collapse of an Afghan government and army that the US spent two decades assisting in the establishment of. Instead, he has remained unconcerned about the country’s plight.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Biden decided last month against slowing the withdrawal from the country’s main US air base, Bagram, which some American officials favoured; the pullout was completed this week.
He met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the White House last week in what was billed as a show of support, only to say that Afghans would have to “decide their future.”
If current trends continue, the future is likely to be bleak. Afghan Army units are being wiped out by the Taliban or surrendering without a fight as US advisers and air support fade away. In desperation, the government has invited ethnic militias to remobilize, risking a return to the country’s anarchic conflict and banditry that plagued it in the 1990s.
Even with that support, the government may not be able to hold on; according to a US intelligence community assessment released last week, it could fall within six to twelve months of the US departure, according to the Washington Post.
Not only Afghans will be at risk if this occurs. Al Qaeda could re-establish bases in the country, according to the intelligence community and a study commissioned by Congress. Waves of refugees are expected to pour out, destabilising neighbours such as Pakistan and crowding Europe’s borders. US adversaries such as Iran, China, and Russia may conclude that Biden lacks the courage to stand up for embattled allies such as Iraq, Taiwan, and Ukraine.
Last week, Biden correctly ordered the evacuation of Afghans who worked for the US. But he should do more for those who are still fighting to save the country. He should permit the use of US air power to support Afghan army units even after the withdrawal.Ways must be found to keep the Afghan air force flying even after foreign maintenance contractors leave. In addition, an agreement with Turkey on using its troops to keep the Kabul airport open must be reached; otherwise, the US Embassy may be forced to close, according to the Washington Post.
Biden has long been a sceptic of the US mission in Afghanistan, and he has maintained that stance even as the number of troops and funds dedicated to it have been drastically reduced, according to the report.
“His view has been that the war against the Taliban is unnecessary and unwinnable. But the descent from stalemate to defeat could be steep and grim. We wonder whether he has fully considered the consequences,” the Washington Post added.