Daily US Times: “We need to close the book on a 20-year war,” this is how a US official broke the news on Tuesday that the last US soldiers would be out of Afghanistan by 11 September. Afghans are now facing a pivotal moment as the US is pulling out itself.
Twenty long years, what does this “book” say about the country that some 10,000 US-led Nato troops will soon leave behind?
It is a dramatically different country than the shattered land and pariah state of the Taliban toppled in the US-led invasion of 2001 after the attacks on twin-tower and the Pentagon.
But this withdrawal window is decisive. It could accelerate a push towards peace, or a descent into violence that shreds the more open society which has been taking root – however slowly and unevenly – over the past twenty years.
Tamim Asey, Executive Chairman of the Institute of War and Peace Studies in Kabul, warns that the best possible outcome to expect is that this withdrawal timeline serves as a catalyst and a mechanism to pressure Afghan parties to reach a political settlement by September or face a bloody Syrian-style civil war.
Few would have expected this last chapter of the US military mission in Afghanistan to read like this: a triumphal Taliban poised to return to the country’s power on the battlefield or through peace talks and negotiation where they hold most of the cards; much-vaunted “gains” slipping away by the day in a wave of targeted killings of the educated, active, and ambitious lifeblood of an emerging society.
Many Afghans are now fear a terrible tumbling towards civil war in a conflict already described as one of the most violent in the world.
You may read:US troops ‘to leave Afghanistan by 11 September’