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The US and NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan, planned to end at the end of August 2021, the rapid Taliban takeover of tens of provinces in the war-torn country and the meddling of regional actors, such as Russia, Pakistan, Iran, and China, in the Afghani affairs, have worrying strategic ramifications for the future of the country and poses political and security challenges for its neighbors. Worse than that is the threat to the Afghani civil society that in the past two decades enjoyed libera democratic values. Should the Taliban regain control over Afghanistan, the latter might become again a focal point for global international terrorism and pose a threat to the western world, Israel included.
The war on Afghanistan is the longest in US history. For 20 year the US has waged a tenacious war against al-Qaeda’s terrorism nests and the Afghani Taliban. Unwillingly, it was dragged to this war following the 9/11 attacks. Indeed, it managed to wear down al-Qaeda, kill tens of its senior leaders and force many of them to seek refuge in Pakistan and Iran, however it didn’t break al-Qaeda and despite Taliban vehement denials a few hundreds al-Qaeda fighters are still active in Afghanistan.
In February 2020, President Trump arrived at understandings with the Taliban (the Doha Agreement) within which he undertook to release Taliban prisoners and withdraw US forces from Afghanistan within 14 months, in return for the Taliban undertaking not to harbor al-Qaeda and negotiate for peace with the pro American regime in Kabul, to ensure the country’s stability. The election of President Biden stalled the withdrawal in light of the president’s wishes to reexamine the details of the agreement. The Taliban stressed that this was a breach of the Doha Agreement and threaten to pick up the hostilities against the US troops. The fear of security escalation in Afghanistan led Biden to surprisingly instruct an immediate withdrawal starting July 2021 to end by the end of August 2021 save for a contingency of 650 troops that will provide security for Kabul. So far over 90% of the US installations have been vacated including the notorious Bagram base where Taliban prisoners were incarcerated and tortured.