Afghanistan: America’s Longest War

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By Georges Abi-Aad

After 20 long years and four presidents, the war between the United States and terrorism in Afghanistan has finally ended, with the last U.S troops departing from the country August 30, according to USA Today. With no more U.S soldiers remaining on Afghani soil, the Taliban have gained control of the nation. 

For most of today’s generation of college students, including myself, the war between these two nations has spanned from our early childhood up until our adult lives — making many of us unaware of how the war started and what to expect now that it is over. Here are some key points about the war, including how it war began, the current status of what is happening, and what is to be expected of the Taliban and Afghanistan.

How did the war between the United States and Afghanistan begin?

As conflicts arose in the Middle East during the 1980s and 1990s, the United States took a stance to lend their assistance to some of the countries in need. However, according to History.com, al Qaeda’s leader at the time, Osama bin Laden, opposed U.S. involvement during both the Israel-Palestinian War and the Persian Gulf War. 

Members of al Qaeda carried out the terror attacks that occurred in September 2001, also known as 9/11. History.com states that as a result of 9/11, President George W. Bush initiated Operation Enduring Freedom, which was the mission to eliminate the Taliban forces and Osama bin Laden’s influence in Afghanistan. However, Operation Enduring Freedom transitioned from what was expected to be a few months of conflict to the 20 years of war that we have witnessed. 

What is happening currently in Afghanistan?

As a result of American troops withdrawing from Afghanistan, the Taliban’s activity in the nation has risen drastically. For example, on August15, as reported by the Council on Foreign Relations, members of the Taliban had captured the capital building of Afghanistan and are currently leading the nation on their own accord. On August 26, as the United States was evacuating Americans and Afghan allies from the Kabul airport, there was a terrorist attack carried out by ISIS-K that killed 13 U.S soldiers and 60 Afghan civilians, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

What can we expect from the Taliban now?

According to USA Today, it is foreseeable that the Taliban will have conflicts with the rivaling radical Islamic group, ISIS-K, who may challenge the Taliban for control of Afghanistan. If tensions rise more between the two groups, there is no telling how many more lives will be lost in their pursuits of power.

USA Today reports there are at least 100 U.S citizens still stuck in Afghanistan. With American citizens stranded in Afghanistan, diplomatic cooperation may form between the Taliban and the U.S to evacuate those citizens.

What do the students on campus think about what is happening now and may later occur in Afghanistan?

“We’re no longer in Afghanistan, and I think that is a good thing,” said Patrick Bacher, a senior majoring in simulation and game design. “Maybe in the future, we could look towards how we can prevent things like this from happening and how we can maybe execute these situations more properly.”

Junior Nathan Lembo said the departure of U.S. troops left a lot of uncertainty for the future.

“There’s a good amount of relief that a lot of U.S troops will not be in harm’s way as a result of the conflict anymore,” said Lembo. “I think there’s a lot of things that people are going to have to figure out…There might be a civil war in the process, and the Taliban could collapse on itself after finally being in full power to the public…I think that there’s still going to be some involvement from the U.S and other countries, kind of trying to negotiate or interact with whoever’s in charge.”

Image depicting the American and Taliban Flags created by Georges Abi-Aad via Photoshop