Uncertainty in Afghanistan leads to political unrest

Afghans+gather+on+a+roadside+near+the+military+part+of+the+airport+on+Friday+in+hopes+of+fleeing+the+country+after+the+Talibans+takeover.+

Wakil Kohsar / newsweek / CC by SA

Afghans gather on a roadside near the military part of the airport on Friday in hopes of fleeing the country after the Taliban’s takeover.

The United States declared war on Afghanistan the October after the Sept. 11 attacks in New York. Now, 20 years later, the United States has officially withdrawn all personnel and American troops out of Afghanistan as of Aug. 30, 2021.

“Tonight’s withdrawal signifies both the end of the military component of the evacuation but also the end of the nearly 20-year mission that began in Afghanistan shortly after Sept. 11, 2001,” General Frank McKenzie said in a Pentagon news briefing on Aug. 30.

The Taliban took over Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, on Aug. 22, causing the urgent removal of all American personnel and troops to be evacuated.

Since the week of Aug. 14, American troops began evacuating American personnel, Afghans, citizens of our Allies, and other men and women with American visas. Since then, 116,700 men and women have been evacuated from Afghanistan, and approximately 122,300 people have been relocated since the end of July.

President Joe Biden set Aug. 31 as the deadline for all personnel to be evacuated.

“First, on evacuation, we agreed that we will continue to close — our close cooperation to get people out as efficiently and safely as possible,” Biden said. “We are currently on a pace to finish by Aug. 31. The sooner we can finish, the better. Each day of operations brings added risk to our troops.”

However, amid the evacuation, on Thursday, Aug. 26, an ISIS-K suicide bomber took the lives of 13 American service members and more than 100 other men and women at the Kabul Airport. In retaliation, the U.S. launched their first strike at the ISIS-K planner, who took responsibility for the attack. The 13 American lives lost in this attack mark the first time an American has passed away in Afghanistan since last February, prompting outrage. Biden addressed these concerns. 

We will continue to hunt down any person involved in that heinous attack and make them pay. Whenever anyone seeks to harm the United States or attack our troops, we will respond. That will never be in doubt.”

— Joe Biden

“I said we would go after the group responsible for the attack on our troops and innocent civilians in Kabul, and we have. This strike was not the last,” Biden said. “We will continue to hunt down any person involved in that heinous attack and make them pay. Whenever anyone seeks to harm the United States or attack our troops, we will respond. That will never be in doubt.”

The United States involvement and evacuations in Afghanistan have caused political unrest as many Americans believe the Biden administration has dealt with the evacuations poorly. Although this question is up for debate, the real discussion lies in what the United States represents to the world and the American people.

“The U.S. military is a global superpower, but what that represents to Americans is vastly different than the threat it poses to regular people in occupied countries such as Afghanistan,” said Ava Litvak, a junior at Carlmont High School.

With our military fully evacuated from Afghanistan ending the longest war in American history, we must, as a country, turn to heal and re-imagine our role in the world. 

“As Americans look on the current crises in Afghanistan, I think it is imperative we consider our roles in the situation because of our national identity and what it means outside our borders,” Litvak said.