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  • Ryan Wittler

The Taliban Has Taken Afghanistan

Associated Press

It’s been just five weeks since President Biden announced the end of America’s longest war, withdrawing troops from a country many have said they never should have been in.

In that time, the Taliban has made remarkable progress (despite the U.S. and allies having spent billions of dollars training the Afghan military and police in the last two decades), seizing nearly all regions and finally moving into the capital city, Kabul, on Sunday.

What it means:

The Taliban has seized power. On Sunday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country as Taliban militants sat on the outskirts of the capital and its negotiators met with Afghan officials to discuss the transfer of power. The spokesman for the Taliban also told reporters that “the war in Afghanistan is over.”

That same day, Associated Press reported American diplomats (including the U.S. ambassador) had been moved from the embassy to the Kabul International Airport. AP also reported seeing smoke billowing from the embassy, a sign officials are destroying important documents (which aligns with a CNN report from Friday that they had been directed to do so).

What’s next:

President Biden has maintained the U.S. is turning its attention to other adversaries, namely China, saying the U.S. and NATO have done enough to help the Afghans defend themselves. However, Secretary of State Antony Blinken did tell NBC that the U.S. will maintain a “core diplomatic presence” in Kabul located at the airport.

According to Bloomberg, Taliban officials have said the transfer of power will be safe, though there are reports the militants will try to “reimpose the fundamentalism that defined their earlier rule,” undoing two decades of hard-won progress for women and other members of society.

In April, during a speech at the White House, President Biden made his intentions in Afghanistan clear:

“I’m now the fourth [U.S.] President to preside over American troop presence in Afghanistan: two Republicans, two Democrats. I will not pass this responsibility on to a fifth.”

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