After the 9/11 attacks, the United State of America has been fighting the so-called longest war in Afghanistan to eliminate the threat from the soil but the US and its allies have not been successful to defeat their enemies. The Bush administration declares the war of terror after the 9/11 attacks of Al-Qaeda in America. Later on, the war takes a new dimension due to the political changes.
President Bush started the war of terror, and during his two terms, he was more focused on the offensive strategy. In his tenure, he also opened the new front such as the Iraq invasion which affected the Afghan war. Kabul policies, as well as the political decision, were decided in Washington. Later on, the Barack Obama administration emphasized the military used but he also provided a gateway to the Taliban for opening the office in Doha, Qatar. There were more than 100,000 American troops present in Afghanistan during that time.
On 18 June 2013 Taliban opened there first ever office and announced its willingness to open peace talks with US officials. It took more than two years of Negotiations over the opening of the office, and yet it was still a success by Obama administration that the Taliban’s who were initially not ready for talks come in for the negotiations. After the trump came into power the war shifted from the military perspective to the table talks and negotiations.
Recently, the political reshuffle in the US has raised many questions about its future policies towards the globe, after the 78-year-old Joe Biden defeated incumbent President Donald Trump in 2020 US presidential election. It was predicted that the military establishment will favour Biden because Trump’s policies did not support American as they believed. During the election campaign, nearly 800 former high-rank military and security officials also write an open letter in support of Democratic candidate.
Trump also adopted a dismissive attitude towards US allies, particularly the European Union, NATO in which he imposes extra tariffs. He cut deals with nations and organization’s that benefited the US just like the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Paris Agreement etc. He also opens a new conflict with china. Despite that, China has built its economic, diplomatic and military power, while the US bogged down in endless wars and suffered an economic crisis. But the one thing Trump understands that the solution for any issue is through negotiation, dialogue’s and talks despite his different approach toward China as compared to Afghanistan and Syria. He decided to pull out the US from the Afghan war.
In US politics mainly two institutions are prominent and rival to each other. The state department who is responsible for carrying foreign policy and the defence department focusing on the matters of defence.
In Trump era, the state department has played a vital role in the Afghan conflict. The twenty-year of war which starts with the weapon now looks to end with the negotiation. Earlier this year, the United States and the Taliban signed an agreement in Doha aimed at ending the war in Afghanistan. Under the agreement, all US forces will be withdrawn by May 2021, but, in theory, only if the Taliban fulfil certain conditions which seem to have been met yet.
Despite that deal, the Afghan politicians raise their genuine concern about not taking them in confidence. They also put some hurdles for delaying the release of prisoners. Several times, the talks between the Kabul government and Taliban were suspended. Later on, In September the Long delayed intra-Afghan talks started in Doha but the process was slow down to set the terms and conditions before the formal talks begin. Currently, the terms and condition has been set between both parties and at the end of November, the official talk will start, according to sources.
Meanwhile, the president Trump tweeted in October that all 4,500 US troops in Afghanistan wil be brought back to home by Christmas, which shows the intention that he wants complete withdrawal before the year ends; but US military officials claim there was no actual plan to withdraw troops by Christmas.
After the Trump presidential loss in the 2020 election, the policy also shifts from complete to half withdrawal. Trump is pushing to accelerate withdrawals from Afghanistan as well as Iraq and Somalia by the time he leaves office. While top military and national security aides were against that decision, Trump eventually agreed to the smaller drawdown. On the other side, the Taliban group appreciated trumps decision.
Due to the sudden policy shift and speed up, NATO – the military alliance – also raised serious concern that the price for leaving too soon or in an uncoordinated way could be very high. Afghanistan risks becoming once again a platform for international terrorists to plan and organise attacks on our homelands.
It is expected that the Pentagon will reverse the decision and send more troops or military support especially airpower when Biden officially takes the charge. As the former military officials were supporting Biden during the campaign, many experts inside the US believed the conditions on the ground are not suitable for reduction in troops. There is also a threat of shifting balance of power in favour of the Taliban and other groups in troop withdrawal.
In writing Biden said: “It is past time to end the forever wars, which have cost the United States untold blood and treasure.” He also emphasizes to bring the vast majority of troops home from the wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East but now the condition is different. This can be seen as Biden in a recent interview said that he would maintain a troop presence in Afghanistan and Iraq. He has pressure from the military establishment to put troops in Afghan soil. Biden will try to be tougher on the Taliban, such as by threatening to delay a US troop withdrawal until violence reduce. A reduced US military presence in Afghanistan will also put Biden in a tough position. As the trump decision to withdrawal half troops so now it is expected that the remaining 2000 troops will stay there for a long time.
As a concern, the only person who is suffering from this trauma is Afghans in the country. Here again, a question arises if the US really withdraw troops from Afghanistan. The simple answer is “NO”. Firstly the war is not seemingly to be ending due to lack of serious attitude shown by the Taliban and Kabul government. Secondly, the upcoming US government policy will likely to shift as the peace process pace is moving so slow. Eentually the US will extend the time frame. Due to the instability inside Afghanistan and the political crises between the multi-ethnic groups, success in the peace deal relies on all warrying side’s commitment, which is beyond prediction.
Editors Note: The opinion piece is that of Raja Furqan Ahmed’s and Khaama Press does not claim any ownership. Ahmed is a student of International Relations and a freelance journalist, currently based in Islamabad, Pakistan. He can be reached at [email protected] or @furqanraja1122 on Twitter.