Faced with the Taliban’s meteor shower, Joe Biden did not back down: The US president has promised to end the withdrawal from Afghanistan, but the options appear to be less likely to affect the country’s fate.
“The decision was made to withdraw with full awareness that what we have just seen is likely to happen,” Laurel Miller, the US ambassador to Afghanistan until 2017, told AFP.
Michael Gugelman, a researcher at the Wilson Center, shares this observation that he is “surprised” and “very concerned” by the pace of insurgent regional gains that have taken six of the 34 state capitals: “We all knew that the Taliban would intensify their offensive as soon as Biden announced his departure.
Former US President Donald Trump has decided to withdraw international forces. His successor postponed the deadline for a few months, but U.S. and foreign forces will leave the country by the end of the month.
According to Joe Biden, the primary motive for the intervention, triggered by the September 11, 2001 attacks, was to marginalize al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization, for a long time.
“Nearly twenty years of experience, + one more year + fighting in Afghanistan is not a solution, but a recipe for staying there forever,” the Democrats who longed for the end of the United States last month for the longest war in its history.
– American “betting” –
Pressured by questions as the Taliban progressed, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken made it clear in recent weeks that the tax would not change: Washington would maintain “support” for the government in Kabul, especially in terms of military training, but that retirees, Afghans should choose their own destiny.
The key question now is whether US airstrikes, which have intensified in recent days, will continue after August 31. At this point, there is no answer, and the Biden government has warned that it will be sought only if there is a terrorist threat from al-Qaeda or the jihadist group Islamic State.
However, Eli Dennenbaum, a researcher at the French Institute of International Relations, underscores that the Biden administration “bet” that “the return of the Taliban is not a major threat to US security.”
Beyond that, the Americans are still pretending that they can resume the now stalled diplomatic talks by threatening to make Afghanistan a “para-state” if the Taliban take the lead on the diplomatic front. A strict version of Islamic law in force when they ruled the country between 1996 and 2001.
Laurel Miller, Asia director of the International Crisis Group, now the Conflict Prevention Organization, said the United States “definitely uses this pressure mechanism because they have nothing else.”
– “Political Expenditure” –
“Of course, the Taliban would like to gain the legal and financial support of the international community, but their priority is to seize power, and if they have to choose between legitimacy and power, they will choose power,” he warns.
According to her, the most promising situation for the government in Kabul – probably the most promising – is to freeze the situation on the ground today and then negotiate a political solution.
Michael Kugelman doubts whether the United States can change its course in favor of the Taliban by leaving Afghanistan.
“I fear the Taliban are too strong. The Afghan army has also laid siege. Americans can change the situation,” he added.
American public opinion in particular is against this war, or is not interested in it. In the political class, the insurgency is not really weighted: the opposition to the withdrawal is the same as it was at the time of its announcement, i.e. a few neoconservatives and part of the military.
“Even if the worst situation arises and the Taliban threatens to occupy the whole of Afghanistan, it will not change the government’s account” because “the political cost of the returning forces will be greater than the withdrawal,” explains Michael Kugleman.
Biden-Blingen’s speech, which promised to place democracy and human rights at the center of its foreign policy, was far worse.
“It shows that this talk is only valid for certain countries, not everywhere,” he told a former U.S. diplomat.