Updated: Sep 15
Last year, after clinching a deal with the #Taliban, the #US ceased its 20-year invasion. What began as the USA’s ‘War on Terror’ in 2001, ended quite ironically in leaving the country in the hands of the Taliban. Utter chaos ensued, creating even more #refugees.
However, the US engagement in #Afghanistan can be traced back to two decades earlier.
The US interest in Afghanistan piqued after 1978, when, after the Saur Revolution, a USSR-aligned Marxist-Leninist government was established in Kabul. To counter the USSR, the US began supporting anti-Soviet groups – known as the Mujahedeen. One of these will gain notoriety by becoming the Taliban in the next decade.
The US in fact, financed the Mujahedeen, exploiting them for its own advantage and imported foreign fighters into Afghanistan. This had a devastating result, as after both the US and Soviet Union departed from the country, Afghanistan fell into a brutal civil war, resulting in the formation of the Al-Qaeda as well as the Taliban.
After the USSR withdrew, the Afghan government collapsed within three years, plunging the already war-torn country into a civil war. As a result, the Taliban seized power, making it a safe heaven for the Al-Qaeda.
A week after the 9/11 attacks on the US, President Bush signed a joint resolution, authorizing the intervention in Afghanistan.
After 20 years, the US began its peace deal with the group in Sept 2020, declaring that it will ‘end its longest war’ by Sept 11, 2021, regardless of the progress of the intra-Afghan peace talks. But even before the stated date, the Taliban succeeded in overrunning the country.
The longest war of the US was over, leaving in its wake thousands on a desperate mission to leave the country and rendering them refugees in Europe. Also, since Aug 2021, Afghanistan remains the only country in the world, where the majority of girls are barred from schools.
The hasty US withdrawal meant most of the improvements done in the country in the past 20 years were lost, but the US defended its move, citing the completion of its counter-terrorism mission, regardless of the aftermath.
After the invasion of #Afghanistan in 2001, the #US forces invaded #Iraq in 2003, with the aim of destroying ‘Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (#WMD) and putting an end to the regime of #SaddamHussein. Even though the US forces managed to capture and hang the former Iraqi president, it could not prove its claims of WMDs in Iraq.
After a few months of combat, the US army promulgated an order, for the disbandment of the Iraqi army and intelligence services. This let hundreds of well-armed and trained men onto the streets of Iraq, escalating the violence. By the end of the year, Saddam Hussein was captured at #Tikrit. But, the next month, the Bush administration had to concede its ‘pre-war arguments about extensive stockpiles of chemical, biological and nuclear weaponry in Iraq appear to have been mistaken’.
Furthermore, the US excesses in Iraq are laid bare by evidence of prisoner abuse inside the US run #AbuGhraib prison. With small headways made at building anew the political systems in the country, violence, especially sectarian violence, continues to ravage Iraq.
In 2010, after more than seven years, the US declared that it aims to end its combat mission in Iraq. In an address to the nation, US President Barack Obama stressed that, ‘in the end, only Iraqis can resolve their differences and police their streets’.
Finally in December 2011, the last of the US troops left Iraq, with estimates suggesting that approximately 100,000 Iraqis were killed in the nine-years long US military intervention. As in the case of Afghanistan, the US left Iraq still struggling with security problems and sectarian divisions.