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Afghanistan under Crisis: The Way Out


Professor Tang Jun

On May 1st, 2021, US President Joe Biden announced the beginning of the official withdrawal from Afghanistan of the remaining troops. Some about 3,000 American troops and 7,000 fighters of NATO countries are planned to leave Afghanistan by September 2021.“It is time to end America’s longest war. It is time for American troops to come home.”, said Biden. His declaration marks the end of the 20-year war of the U.S. the longest and the most expensive war in US history.

Biden announces U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan

Ashraf Ghani, President of Afghan, and Abdullah Abdullah, Head of the Afghan’s High Council for National Reconciliation, visited Biden in Washington, D.C., on June 25th, 2021, as the U.S. military largely withdraws from Afghanistan. Ghani said the US leaders did not bring up the possibility of delaying the troop withdrawal in the talk. “We respect that decision,” he said at the post-meeting news conference. “Our course is to manage the consequences and to ensure that the people of Afghanistan rise to the challenge.”The meeting between the leaders comes amid concerns that the Afghan government would be collapsing within months of the U.S. Withdrawal.

Biden meets President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan at the White House

With the withdrawal of US troops, the situation in Afghanistan turned into a state of chaos as the Taliban advanced in Afghanistan and conflicts happened all over the country. UN special envoy in Afghanistan Deborah Lyons, when briefing the UN Security Council on the latest developments in Afghanistan, says Taliban insurgents have captured dozens of districts in the country since May. More than 50 of Afghanistan’s 370 districts have fallen since the beginning of May. Most districts that have been taken surround provincial capitals, suggesting that “the Taliban are positioning themselves to try and take control of these capitals once foreign forces are fully withdrawn.” She warned that increased conflict is posing a risk of insecurity to many other countries as coalition troops withdraw from Afghanistan. Foreigners in Afghan are suggested to leave the country as soon as possible from their embassy, but the question is: where can millions of Afghan civilians go when the country’s situation is out of control?

Areas controlled by Taliban in Afghanistan (By July 1st, 2021)

“The international community came here 20 years ago with this clear objective of fighting extremism and bringing stability but extremism is at the highest point today. So they have failed,” said Hamid Karzai, former Afghan President, during an interview with the Associated Press in Kabul, Afghanistan, on June 20, 2021. “We recognize as Afghans all our failures, but what about the bigger forces and powers who came here for exactly that purpose? Where are they leaving us now?” he asked and answered: “In total disgrace and disaster.”


Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in Kabul, Afghanistan, June 20, 2021

The Afghan war is the longest conflict in the US. history, resulting in more than 100,000 civilian casualties, 2,000 U.S. soldiers deaths, and a cost of over 2 trillion dollars. For U.S. politicians, this war has long been a “negative asset” to the US government. Since President Obama took his place, Washington decided to withdraw from Afghanistan and end the war. Trump’s government took a further step to break its practice of “non-negotiable with terrorist groups” and started peace talks with the Afghan Taliban, whose one of core demands is the complete withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan. Although the Pentagon and intelligence agencies have repeatedly warned the White House that a hasty withdrawal of troops may deteriorate the Afghan situation, US President Biden insisted on the complete withdrawal of US troops by September 11th, 2021, showing the eagerness of the White House to get rid of this Afghan burden.

Since the declaration of the withdrawal of the foreign troops, Afghan domestic conflicts and terrorist attacks were on the rise and regional security and stability became the biggest concern in central Asia over the past few months. As a great power with the biggest external factor affecting the Afghan issue, the US played an inescapable responsibility role in the Afghan situation. The sudden withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan is the cause of the security consequence of Afghanistan, threatening the peace and stability of Afghanistan and the lives of 32 million people. What the United States has left for the Afghan people is a future full of holes and crises. As a great power to perform its regional security responsibility, the US military should withdraw responsibly to ensure a smooth transition of the situation in Afghanistan and avoid terrorist forces taking advantage of the chaos to bring more turmoil and suffering to the Afghan people.

As Afghanistan’s neighboring country, China doesn’t want Kabul to become the hotbed of terrorism and conflicts since a stable and peaceful Afghanistan is of great importance to the security of western China and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) proposed by China.

Unlike the US, China approached the Afghan issue more moderately, claiming that it has no intention of filling the vacuum left by the withdrawal of the US, nor will it involve in the internal conflict in Afghanistan as the US did. On June 3rd, 2021, Wang Yi, State Councilor and Foreign Minister of China, presided over the 4th China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue with Afghan Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Over the meeting, China formally put forward the Chinese five proposals for advancing peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan: The most important issues were addressed in the following agenda. First, adhere to the fundamental “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned” principle; Second, maintain the momentum of intra-Afghan talks; Third, bring the Taliban back into the political mainstream; Fourth, the international community and countries in the region should provide full support; Fifth, strengthen sincere cooperation among China, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

China  Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the 4th China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue

The withdrawal of US and NATO troops presents both challenges to and opportunities for Afghanistan and countries in the region. However, the challenge lies in whether the withdrawal will lead to changes in the talks among Afghans, wars, and strife. The opportunity is that the withdrawal from Afghanistan will bring prospects for the Afghan people to take control of their future and the country’s future.

Afghanistan has been suffering wars since the establishment of the country, it is time for the people to decide on how to build and run the nations. All parties in Afghanistan, whether religious or not, political or apolitical, governmental or non-governmental or in any sect, should work together to build an extensive and inclusive independent political structure for the country, which pursues a moderate Muslim policy. They should address terrorism internally, and promotes peace diplomacy on all fronts externally, especially being on friendly terms with neighboring countries.

The international community and the countries in the region should provide full support to Afghan. Currently, the US remains the biggest external factor affecting the Afghan issue. Pakistan has played a unique role in facilitating the signing of the peace agreement between the United States and the Taliban and the initiating of intra-Afghan negotiations.

China, Afghanistan, and Pakistan should work together to promote and maintain regional peace and the orderly withdrawal of the U.S. Troops. The Afghan government should work actively on the communication and cooperation with its neighboring countries promptly to form greater synergy for a ceasefire, cessation of war, and restoration of peace in Afghanistan. The world is praying that Afghan will boost its capacity for independent development and gradually realize a virtuous circle of peace and development.

The writer is Director of Pakistan Research Center of Inner Mongolia Honder College of Arts and Sciences, China 

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