The United States will definitely leave Afghanistan . With the announcement of the Administration of Joe Biden to withdraw all its troops so climbing over the coming months, the superpower ends a converted military intervention in an immense and forgotten humanitarian disaster that has become entrenched for nearly two decades .
The conflict in the Central Asian country has left a trail of death that is difficult to quantify. According to Amnesty International , the 19 years and six months of war have caused more than 150,000 deaths – almost 60,000 would be Afghan soldiers and policemen – and 1.2 million displaced people. In 2019, the UN indicated that more than 38,000 dead would have been Afghan civilians. More than 400 humanitarian workers and 54 journalists have been killed in that period.
On October 7, 2001, the White House, under George W. Bush, launched its global war on terror with bombings against key territories in Afghanistan controlled by the Taliban regime – whom the CIA trained and financed between 1979 and 1989 in the framework of the Cold War against the USSR – after refusing to stop hosting the jihadist group Al Qaeda and its leader, Osama bin Laden , the mastermind of the attacks against the Twin Towers and the Pentagon .
The so-called ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’, which the US carried out together with the United Kingdom and a coalition of NATO member countries including Spain , officially ended on December 28, 2014. As of 2015, the international coalition agreed to stay in Afghanistan to train and advise Afghan forces.
However, with the rise of Taliban power and the appearance on the scene of the jihadist group Islamic State , the conflict has continued to rage ever since, with new reports of incursions, attacks and bombings almost daily.
Beyond overthrowing the first Taliban government (a few weeks after the first bombings) and ending the life of Bin Laden (in 2011), the US mission in Afghanistan has been a clear failure. Two decades after their intervention, the Taliban continue to control much of the country.
And, despite the peace negotiations between the Taliban and the Government of Kabul -supported by Washington-, levels of violence have skyrocketed in the first months of 2021. The UN on Wednesday denounced 573 civilians killed and 1,210 injured in the clashes registered during the first quarter of the year, which represents an increase of 29% compared to the same period in 2020.
USA, under investigation
In March last year, the International Criminal Court authorized an investigation to look for possible cases of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Afghanistan by the US, the Taliban and the national authorities. The prosecution accused members of the US armed forces and the CIA of “committing war crimes of torture and cruel treatment, attacks on personal dignity, rape and other forms of sexual violence.”
Currently only 2,500 of the up to 100,000 soldiers that the US had on Afghan soil remain, as well as another 7,000 foreign troops, most of them belonging to the Atlantic Alliance.
America’s longest war
Afghanistan has been America’s modern Vietnam . With almost two decades, the world’s greatest power has been trapped in what is the longest war in its history . US troops have suffered more than 2,400 losses and nearly 20,000 soldiers have been wounded in a contest that has not prevented the Taliban from maintaining significant quotas of power. Additionally, nearly 4,000 other American contractors have died in Afghanistan in that time period, according to a 2019 Brown University report .
The conflict would also have cost US coffers billions of dollars. That same report estimates the total cost to be around $ 2 trillion .
The war in Afghanistan has tainted the last four US presidents: promoted by George W. Bush, maintained by Barack Obama and retired with Donald J. Trump and now Joe Biden. The departure of the 2,5000 soldiers that still remain in the Central Asian country will put an end to a failed mission that has become a stone for Washington.