fischer180_Robert NickelsbergGetty Images_troops leave afghanistan Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

Darkness Over Kabul

Now that President Joe Biden has formally declared an end to the US troop presence in Afghanistan, conflict and chaos are all but certain to follow. The Afghan people will be the first to suffer, but they are unlikely to be the last.

BERLIN – The Afghan drama is nearing its end, at least as far as Western militaries are concerned. Exactly two decades after al-Qaeda’s attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, the last Western troops are, if US President Joe Biden sticks to his timetable, scheduled to leave Afghanistan on September 11, 2021. The war had to end at some point. But after so much blood and treasure spent, many will be wondering what, if anything, has been achieved.

Though al-Qaeda’s terror network was weakened by the war, it was not destroyed. The United States tracked down and killed the group’s leader, Osama bin Laden, and expelled the Taliban from Kabul. But outside of the capital and a few other areas, the Taliban is stronger than ever – and poised to reclaim power once Western troops leave.

Radical Islamist terrorism has not been defeated, either militarily or ideologically, and remains a constant threat to the West. After all these years, Afghanistan still lacks stable governing structures capable of policing domestic terrorism, corruption, and the drug trade, let alone offering Afghan society the prospect of a more peaceful, prosperous future. Regional stability will probably be more fragile after the Western withdrawal than it is today.

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