How many US soldiers died in Afghanistan

Fear of the power vacuum in Afghanistan

The Taliban control large parts of rural areas and strategically important roads. In the cities they cause fear and terror with almost daily bomb attacks and targeted killings. "The war will intensify, get uglier - and drag on until the Taliban seize power," said Afghanistan expert Nishank Motwani. A collapse of the previous government structures, maintained by the presence of foreign troops, is feared. The country could then slide completely into chaos and a brutal civil war, at the end of which the Taliban will come to power again, fears an analysis by the AP news agency.

Since the administration of US President Donald Trump negotiated a withdrawal agreement between the US and the Taliban in February 2020, violence and the number of attacks on the civilian population have risen dramatically. More than 1,700 civilians died in attacks in the first three months of this year, an increase of almost a quarter compared to the same period in 2020, according to the UNO Afghanistan mission.

USA feels safe from attacks

For Washington, such concerns about the security of Afghan civilians hardly count. The administration of US President Joe Biden assumes that the security interests of the US will be safeguarded even after a withdrawal. Even remotely, it should be ensured that Afghanistan does not become a base for terrorist attacks on the United States, as the AP writes. The government in Kabul falls behind with its - from the US point of view, regional - security problems.

According to Biden, the US soldiers should have left Afghanistan by September 11th at the latest - this is the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the US Department of Defense near Washington, which triggered the US invasion were in Afghanistan. At that time, the US Army overthrew the government of the radical Islamic Taliban, which had given refuge to the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

How is Biden doing on the world stage?

Biden said in a televised address on Wednesday that US forces invaded Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks so that it would not be the starting point for attacks against the US again. "We have achieved this goal," said the US President. It is now time to "end this endless war".

The US could be drawn back into the conflict

The “New York Times” also sees US security as guaranteed after the withdrawal - at least in the near future. In the long term, the question of whether attacks on the United States could be planned again in Afghanistan is much more difficult to answer, according to the newspaper. The US could be drawn back into Afghanistan, similar to Iraq, warned insiders and unnamed active and already retired officials, according to the newspaper. US intelligence services have also warned Biden of the bleak future of Afghanistan and the looming victory of the Taliban, it said.

Al-Qaeda and the Afghan branch of the terrorist organization Islamic State (IS) are very weak within the country, as several intelligence officials told the newspaper. The IS fighters are fixated on conquering and securing areas for themselves at the local level, and not on carrying out international terror attacks against the USA, for example. In addition, the Taliban are also largely enemies with them.

Drones, long-range bombers and spy networks

The USA wants to see its security maintained from a distance and wants to ensure that Afghanistan does not become a base for internationally active terrorist organizations. For this purpose, drones, long-range bombers and spy networks are to be used, as the "NYT" writes. But the intelligence information from Afghanistan could be at risk. Afghan Army units, which have provided most of the threat intelligence so far, could be disbanded after the US withdrawal, leaving a huge void.

The US Department of Defense is already consulting with Afghanistan's neighbors such as Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan about "repositioning" US forces, according to senior US officials on the "NYT". Aircraft carriers with fighter jets and long-range bombers, which can take off from bases in the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean, could be used against insurgent fighters or their bases. For the prior clarification of the situation and search for bases, armed surveillance drones are to be used, it said.

Positions of Kabul and Taliban incompatible

Peace negotiations between the government in Kabul and the Islamists have so far made little progress. The USA favors a transitional government with the involvement of the Taliban and, in the long term, a consensus between all conflict parties. Whether this is even possible is in the stars. The Taliban insist on a return to an emirate led by a religious council of elders. In fact, the positions are irreconcilable, and violence is expected to escalate.

Head of state Ashraf Ghani is meanwhile practicing optimism and sees his troops up to the task. They are "fully capable of defending their people and their country," he said. According to the Afghan authorities, the country's 300,000 soldiers and police officers are already doing 98 percent of all operations against the insurgents. However, the US Air Force has so far been a key factor in combat missions. It provides vital air support, especially when Afghan troops are on the defensive. However, the lack of support from the US military could put the troops' morale to the test, as some experts fear.

Disaster for women

The troop withdrawal is already seen as a catastrophe for women and women's rights in Afghanistan. There is a great fear that the achievements of the past two decades may be lost again. Until their fall in 2001, the Taliban banned girls from schools and stoned women to death for adultery. Today there are women politicians, activists, judges and journalists in Afghanistan. If the Taliban are further strengthened through the withdrawal of troops, it is expected that this development will be undone and time will be turned back in the interests of the Taliban.

The Taliban said they respected women's rights as long as they are in accordance with Islamic law. "If you say that you will protect women's rights, you will do so according to your interpretation of Sharia law," said Afghan scientist Mariam Safi.

Dependent on foreign aid

Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world, heavily indebted and dependent on foreign aid. Although the country has mineral resources, the security situation has never been stable enough to fill the state coffers in this way. In November, donor countries pledged support to Afghanistan until 2024. However, due to the withdrawal of foreign troops, compliance with these aid pledges is questionable.

Despite the planned withdrawal of international troops, the UN wants to continue its political and humanitarian mission in the country. "We will investigate the situation further, but our work in Afghanistan will continue," said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric. It is "clear and obvious" that the withdrawal of NATO and US troops "will have an impact on the country as a whole". The UN has been "present in Afghanistan for a long, long time in the field of humanitarian development," he said.