The 20 year US conflict with Afghanistan marks the longest war in American history. The US and its allies invaded Afghanistan after the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001. During this time, Afghanistan was ruled by the Taliban which sheltered Al-Qaeda and its leader Osama Bin Laden.
Two decades have passed since the American forces invaded Afghanistan and yet even in such a long period of time they managed to achieve very little. The country is devastated, the Taliban controls most parts of it, and the war is relentlessly going on.
In 2018, 25,000 people died in Afghanistan due to this war.
Afghanistan has faced conflict for over four decades. The Soviet Union invaded the country in 1979 in order to support the Afghan Communist regime. The US, reacting to this, started a proxy war by underwriting the Mujahideen rebels to fight the Soviet forces.
The Soviet forces had to finally leave Afghanistan in 1989 which led to years of domestic conflict among tribal warlords. This turmoil gave the Taliban the perfect opportunity to grab power in the country and in 1996 they took over Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan. They established themselves as the government in various other parts of the country as well.
Democratic elections were held in Afghanistan three years after the 2001 US invasion. However, despite the increase in military presence and peace talks, the conflict has not reduced.
Every US president has tried to win the war in Afghanistan. They tried to both reduce and increase the troops, yet no one has been able to end the war.
US President George W Bush took resources from Afghanistan to focus on the war in Iraq, whereas President Barack Obama sent 30,000 more troops into Afghanistan to try to get the Taliban to come to an agreement.
Even though US forces in Afghanistan have allowed girls to pursue education and established a democratic government, the chances of all of this surviving are bleak once the US leaves the country and the funds get finished.
Today, the Taliban controls 18% of the districts in Afghanistan and 48% are contested. Despite having very little access to military equipment, the Taliban has been able to expand its power because of local authenticity.
“They have persuaded many people that their version of swift Islamic justice is more legitimate than the corrupt Afghan government”, said Shashank Joshi, journalist from The Economist.
Further, the Taliban got financial support and alliance from neighboring country, Pakistan. They also get their money from selling drugs as 90% of the world’s opium comes from Afghanistan. This alone has helped the Taliban become the world’s wealthiest rebel force.
The destruction of opium fields has taken away the livelihood of farmers who, as a consequence, became more sympathetic towards the Taliban.
US President Donald Trump has tried to reduce the American troops in Afghanistan.
He began one of the most serious agreements that have ever happened between the US and Taliban but walked out of the negotiation in the last moment when an American soldier was killed in an attack orchestrated by the Taliban.
Mr. Trump wants to come to a conclusion with respect to the situation in Afghanistan before the 2020 US elections.
If the US hurriedly leaves the country, then the Taliban will simply have to wait to take over Afghanistan. Therefore, it is crucial for the Trump administration to come to a negotiation with the Taliban that secures lasting peace in Afghanistan.
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Sources: Foreign Policy, AlJazeera , BBC + more
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