This spring, President Joe Biden announced that the United States would withdraw from Afghanistan. His administration believed the Afghan military would defend important cities and fight the Taliban until a ceasefire.
Prior to the Taliban offensive, U.S. officials stated that they did not expect any provincial capitals to be taken over until the fall.
A carefully planned strategy by the Taliban, however, has resulted in rapid battlefield advances that have allowed insurgents to take control of a series of provincial capitals over the past week. The total number of insurgents now at nine is boosted by the addition of three more on Tuesday. This includes several large cities.
Officials said that the latest U.S. intelligence assessment indicated that Kabul could be overthrown by militants within a matter of months. Officials in the United States now fear that Afghan soldiers, civilians and other personnel will flee Kabul ahead of an attack by the Taliban.
Allies have been shaken by the rapid fall of Afghan regular forces, even those who contributed troops to the U.S. coalition. This has also rekindled concerns about the U.S.’s ability to fulfill its commitments abroad. India has closed its consulate in India and sent a plane to evacuate its citizens. According to U.S. officials, the U.S. military has accelerated plans to evacuate its well-staffed American embassy if Kabul demands it.
Afghan Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar stated Tuesday that the Taliban offensive is a violation of an agreement with the U.S. in January, which set the stage for American withdrawal. He called on the U.S. to use military force and other sanctions to respond.
Biden seems to be sticking with the plan to withdraw all troops by Sept. 1. He said Tuesday that he did not regret his decision.
Some allies, foreign experts and critics of Biden’s policy worry that Afghanistan’s chaos could open the door to extremist groups returning to Afghanistan and give China and Russia the opportunity to expand their influence.
Bradley Bowman, a veteran of Afghanistan and senior director at Foundation for Defense of Democracies Center on Military and Political Power in Washington, said that Mr. Biden “knows from experience that America’s actions overseas matter, but he is willingly overlooking the far-reaching implications of America’s withdrawal.”
He said that China and Russia diplomats could be expected to mount a whisper campaign in capitals around world that Washington is unreliable and will abandon its friends sooner than later.
Biden’s administration stated that the U.S. had spent enough money and lives in Afghanistan after 20 years. Now, U.S. priorities shift to rebuilding America and dealing with China, Russia, and other countries.