Afghanistan: The Taliban Takeover and its Strategic Fallout

Afghanistan: The Taliban Takeover and its Strategic Fallout

National Security, 15 December 2021

Although it is still too early to predict the full strategic fallout of the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan after nearly 20 years, triggering an unexpectedly swift collapse of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) and the Afghan government and state, its implications are without a doubt, seismic. The withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan in 1989, after a 10-year-long intervention, was followed by the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the Soviet bloc within two years, the collapse of the Najibullah PDPA government in 1992, and the intra-Mujahideen fighting from 1992-96. That interlude paved the way for the takeover of Afghanistan in 1995-96 by the Taliban == a religious militia raised by Pakistan in the refugee camps and madrasas on the Pakistani side of the Durand Line. It was nominally led by a religious preacher, Mullah Omar, anointed as the ‘Emir-ul-Momineen’ or Commander of the Faithful [with a cloak attributed to Prophet Mohammad (PBUH)]. It led eventually to the allegiance and arrival of Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, the fateful airborne terrorist attacks of 9/11 in the United States, the US two decades of ‘war on terror’ fought on Afghan soil, and its final almost unconditional and unilateral withdrawal by the end of August, declaring ‘mission accomplished’. By then, ahead of the US withdrawal deadline, the Taliban had on August 15 swarmed into Kabul.