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Ongoing Consequences of the Botched Afghanistan Withdrawal

People run alongside a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane as it moves down a runway of the Kabul airport in August 2021

1. Counterterrorism Efforts More Difficult

After the Biden administration decided to withdraw all United States forces and personnel in August 2021, many analysts and national security experts pointed out the issues resulting from the poorly planned action and the various consequences that the U.S. will face in coming months. In early April 2022, U.S. General Richard Clarke testified to a Senate Committee that conducting an effective counterterrorism operation is more difficult because of the administration's withdrawal of all U.S. military from Afghanistan. When asked about conducting counter-terrorism operations in radical hotbeds without assets from previous U.S. deployment in Afghanistan, General Clarke responded openly to the committee addressing the difficulties of such situations. General Clarke pointed out that while specific forces under his command are capable of counter-terrorism operations, he explained that the most vital element in effective counterterrorism is gathering information that allows such actions to take place. With Afghanistan now under the control of the Taliban, it is difficult for the U.S. to gather information from Afghan sources, given the terrorist group’s crackdown on Afghan civilians who have aided U.S. personnel.

2. Americans Still Stranded

The Biden administration’s botched withdrawal of U.S. military forces and personnel in Afghanistan left behind numerous American citizens in a country now controlled by hardline Islamic fundamentalists bent on killing both Americans and Afghans who help Americans. The administration and its officials have repeatedly stated that it’s irresponsible for people to say that Americans are stranded. According to various news reports, the approximate number of Americans and Afghan allies left in Afghanistan range from hundreds to thousands. Some Afghans with U.S. green cards or other visas have been imprisoned, tortured, or even put to death by the new Taliban government, which has sparked an outcry from the State Department. The U.S. government has negotiated with the Taliban for the release of Afghans with U.S. green cards or other visas, bringing them to America to start a brand-new life. For many Americans still stranded in Afghanistan, trying to flee a peaceful state is also impossible given the neighboring countries surrounding the country, including places like Iran, China, Pakistan, and others that are radical and anti-American.

3. U.S. Military Equipment Under Taliban Control

According to recent media reports, the U.S. left around $7 billion in military equipment following the Biden administration’s withdrawal in 2021. Scores of weapons like military planes, vehicles, and other equipment were left behind and are now in the hands of one of the world’s most infamous hardline Islamic terrorist organization. Some officials point out that much of American weaponry and equipment left behind are demilitarized and inoperable for the Taliban to use. The Pentagon stated that it has no plans to retrieve or destroy the military equipment, which is now in the hands of the Taliban fighters. Shortly after the withdrawal from Afghanistan, Taliban fighters were seen parading U.S. military equipment on social media and national news, mocking the U.S. military before they withdrew from Afghanistan. The new Taliban government has also decided to give operable American weaponry to neighboring countries like the Islamic Republic of Iran, which will use American military technology to improve its army.

4. Human Rights Violations

The Biden administration’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan has resulted in various human rights violations by the new Taliban government. Thanks to social media outlets, humanitarian organizations, and local journalists, the American public can see the consequences of the administration's actions for withdrawing quickly and ignoring the deadly consequences that many Afghan men, women, and children will face. While the U.S. and United Nations have called for the Taliban to cease its human rights violations, the leadership of the Taliban has merely ignored international outcry. Taliban fighters have engaged in arbitrary arrests, detentions, torture, violent beatings, house searches, and robberies on ordinary Afghan citizens who are defenseless to stop them. Under the Taliban’s Islamic government, the terrorist group’s Sharia practices govern and remove all Western influence that many Afghans benefited from when U.S. military forces were in the country. While U.S. military forces were in Afghanistan, Afghan women were free to wear and act the way they wanted to, but now with the Taliban in power they have created barriers to female’s health, education, movement, expression, and association.

5. Creeping Iranian Influence

One of the critical reasons why the U.S. had a national security interest in maintaining troop presence in Afghanistan revolved around the country bordering the Islamic Republic of Iran. This allowed U.S. officials to have a staging ground against Iran and potentially launch operations against the Islamic Republic should tensions between the U.S. and Iran escalate. Thanks to the Biden Administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, the U.S. does not have the ability to launch counterterrorism operations against Tehran, which sees U.S. withdrawal as a positive for the safety and security of the Islamic Republic. Additionally, the Islamic Republic has decided to engage in peaceful relations with the Taliban, given that both governments are controlled by radical Islamic fanatics who are anti-American and anti-Israel. When the U.S. military quickly evacuated from Afghanistan and left behind expensive military equipment, the Taliban provided some of it to the mullahs in Iran as a sign of good gesture between the two neighboring countries. Should Iran and the Taliban continue to generate friendly ties with each other, this will grow Iran’s already dominating influence in the Middle East, causing more problems for U.S. foreign policy. The hatred for the U.S. by groups like the Taliban and the Islamic government outweigh any of their sectarian differences, which means that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) could potentially find another staging ground to develop its influence in Afghanistan and potentially train Taliban fighters with U.S. military equipment.

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