As the US-led full NATO withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan is now thoroughly underway, severe security considerations remain largely unanswered. The Taliban are set to seize more control in the imminent and inevitable power vacuum. A growing Islamic State in the Khorasan Province, in addition to a resurgent al-Qaeda, are also taking root across the country. Weekly attacks in Kabul by these competing factions attest to this worsening security situation, in a potential return to the civil war which ravaged the country 30 years ago.
In the midst of these impending security challenges the tangible gains made across the country lie risk to halting, if not reversing altogether. In particular, the rights of women, a universal human right which has been hard fought in Afghanistan by NATO and Afghan troops, is perilously close to collapsing should an embolden Taliban grow to empowered. This is especially worrying when regional partners may favour a more stable domestic security situation in Kabul, over continued progress on women’s rights – in addition to the explicit rights of traditionally marginalised ethnicities such as the Shia Hazara.
As President Biden set the deadline for the troop withdrawal for the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 atrocity, does this politically arbitrary deadline reflect the security situation on the ground? Many think not. The crucial questions now turn to what effects NATO – and indeed regional allies – still achieve after the troop withdrawal. As Australia – a vital military ally in Afghanistan – announce the closure of their embassy in Kabul, there remains a very real doubt as to not only these effects which NATO can potentially still achieve, but also, the very survival of the government of Afghanistan itself.
The Henry Jackson Society are pleased to welcome you to join this timely and informative event, where we will be joined by expert speakers and practitioners.