ORLANDO, Fla. – It’s the end to the nation’s longest war as the last U.S. troops withdrew from Afghanistan a day ahead of the Aug. 31 deadline.
“The administration, this current one and the previous one, negotiated an exit after two decades. The Taliban, of course, have [spun] this as a victory and use it for their propaganda purposes,” said Owen Kirby, an expert on Middle Eastern affairs and nonresident fellow for UCF’s Global Perspectives International Initiatives program. “It was an agreement. They didn’t beat us militarily. Yes, we were there for some time but we didn’t lose a single battle.”
Kirby said the primary focus of the Taliban now is to consolidate a government -- one that will face several challenges.
“They’ve announced that, in a short time, they will present a cabinet or a new governing body. I think the international community is waiting on that,” said Kirby. “Running this government that they’ve just taken over is gonna be their first and primary challenge and then, of course, there’s the economy. With the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces, a lot of support to the government is also gone with it.”
And with the U.S. freezing nearly $9.5 billion of Afghanistan’s reserves after the Taliban seized the country, Kirby believes it will be an added problem for the Taliban.
“Central Bank of Afghanistan, most of their hard currency reserves are actually kept in the United States. They don’t have access to hard currency to purchase vital things for their new government,” he said.
In terms of what’s expected from the Taliban, Kirby said the U.S. expects them to follow through with the peace agreement they signed in 2020 with the Trump administration.
“The ball is sort of in the Taliban’s court. It’ll have to form their new government; we’ll have to see whether or not they follow through on previous agreements with us. Their pledge is not to allow Afghanistan to become safe haven for terrorist groups. We will see,” he said. “The Taliban previously hadn’t been at odds with the United States until, of course, they hosted Al-Qaeda, which perpetrated the 9/11 acts 20 years ago.”