As the Taliban advance, seizing more provincial capitals in Afghanistan, the US Biden Administration is making it more and more clear that the American government’s ‘forever war’ is not ending anytime soon.
Despite the stated large withdrawal of US personnel from Afghanistan, said to be completed by September 11 later this year, the United States of America will still remain in Afghanistan. Suspected to be the case by many, it is also a let down for others who truly believed US President Joe Biden was going to fully exit Afghanistan.
Biden, who still claims that he is ending the war in Afghanistan, has openly stated that included in their commitments to the government in Kabul is to provide air support inside the war-struck nation, to help them fight the Taliban and any other groups which may attempt to seize power. Over the past months, US airpower has been utilized on many occasions, the most significant of which was in Lashkar Gah, where the US used B-52 bombers to target Taliban positions.
It is well known that US airstrikes, specifically its drone-strikes, often kill overwhelmingly civilians and in 2019 alone, under the Trump administration, 700 civilians were killed by predator drone strikes in the country. Now, in addition to working to aid the Afghan government forces, and reportedly still operating special forces units on the ground, Biden is committing to launching airstrikes as a commitment to their ally. This essentially means, that not only will the US still be financing Afghanistan’s military and government, but also using its own air force to launch strikes.
So the whole deal for ending the forever war is now off because the Taliban is gaining ground and the US’ ally is failing to counteract them effectively, all of which stems back to Biden’s decision not to honor the timeline laid out in the deal stuck between the Taliban and the previous administration.
The Taliban have gained control over most of the territory in Afghanistan, having seized eight of the total thirty-four provincial capitals in the country. Their rapid advance, with less than 100,000 fighters (according to mainstream estimates) taking over land from the over 300,000 strong military of the Afghan government, exposes a complete failure on behalf of US forces who spent 20 years in the country attempting to build the nation’s government, after toppling the Taliban in 2001.
Now that the Taliban are looking strong again, proving that the US government failed to achieve its mission, as they have only developed whilst US ground forces were present in the country, it seems that regional players are growing more anxious to start a peace process. Although Afghanistan’s government, led by President Ashraf Ghani, is saying that the Taliban have no interest in peace talks, Turkey have recently indicated their willingness to receive the Taliban and help facilitate a settlement.
Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, stated to CNNTurk television that he will consider hosting the Taliban leadership in Istanbul, following a discussion this Wednesday with their ally Qatar. Even with a concentrated Turkish mission to find a peace solution, however, it is unlikely that the Taliban will stop their largely successful advance anytime soon.
It seems at this point as if the US engineered the situation to turn out this way, being able to justify its continued war effort based upon the threat of the extremist Islamists of the Taliban and to continue raking in the cash for the military-industrial complex. If the strategy was to make the Afghan government depend more heavily on the US, then this could also make sense. It is unlikely that the American government is ever going to facilitate a situation in which trillions of dollars worth of rare-earth mineral wealth would simply be abandoned. Especially with the Chinese government watching on and seeking to take advantage of the situation, post US withdrawal.
With the death and injury toll escalating by the minute in war-torn Afghanistan, the US government is still there, and now President Biden has made it official – there will be no ending this forever war. Even if there will be less than 700 official US personnel in the country, with major strongholds like Bagram air field having been evacuated, you cannot claim to be ending a war whilst committing to a continuation of airstrikes.