What Afghanistan’s Collapse Means for the Rest of the World
The Biden administration’s decision to pull troops out of Afghanistan after over a trillion dollars and 20 years of resources spent has had massive implications for the region: in what seems like barely any time, the Taliban has run into Kabul, forcing the President of Afghanistan out of the country. But what exactly does that mean for the international scene?
The images of dozens of people running to hold on to a soon-to-depart military airplane in Kabul will not likely be forgotten in the near future. Afghanistan’s rapid fall to the Taliban has huge ramifications for life within Afghanistan and the larger Middle East. Joe Biden’s legacy, especially in foreign policy, rests on his handling of this situation, which, until this point, has been largely criticized.
The Taliban Could Harbor Extremists
According to the Department of the Treasury, the Taliban “maintained a strong relationship” with al-Qaeda and “meet[s] regularly” with them. This alignment of their version of Sharia law with many facets of the doctrines of organizations like al-Qaeda and ISIS, which have previously flourished under Taliban control, spells out an inevitable cooperation between the two.
The existence of an Afghan government under Taliban control means that military spending is at the full discretion of a militant political group with control of a significant portion of the Middle East. That power, already causing issues within the city of Kabul, could force other states known to be associated with terrorist organizations, primarily Pakistan and Iran, to institute tougher policies. In sum, Taliban control spells danger for Western ideals and success for extremist ideologies.
Human Rights May Be Violated
In other territories where the Taliban has been in control for decades, women are restricted from getting an education, finding work, or even going out in public. According to some reports, fighters have already blown up hospitals and infrastructure and shut down schools: that becomes a human rights problem the international community will undoubtedly have its eye on.
The Taliban, which has made a large portion of its money through the opium trade, is now ready and able to work on its heroin, along with booming meth production. Going even further, it has access to billions of dollars worth of American weaponry donated during America’s time in the desert. That combination will grow the drug abuse problem within the Middle East and likely result in the exploitation of millions, simply to keep the Taliban in power.
What the United States Should and Can Do
While Joe Biden has yet to admit his fault in the situation, given that this is the first situation where he has truly been placed on the defensive, it’s important that they take the right steps.
Ensure that the Taliban Does Not Access American Funds. While the Treasury already took the crucial step to freeze American assets in Afghanistan, the Taliban has access to government reserves donated by the United States. In stopping those funds from reaching the wrong hands, America can protest the Taliban’s new reign.
Institute a System of Sanctions Against the Group. Along the same lines, the Taliban’s actions will likely cause turmoil in the upcoming months, especially given their history in women’s rights, the drug trade, and extremism. American sanctions, while already in place, should put sufficient pressure on the Taliban to keep them under control.
Work with the International Community to Hold the Taliban Accountable. Because Afghanistan is already part of a number of international agreements, including those to battle money for terrorism, the Taliban must be reprimanded for what many expect is inevitable cooperation with terrorist groups. As has already been done with neighboring Pakistan and Iran, those measures should put significant, if not preventative, pressure on the Taliban to ensure America’s continued stake in the safety of Afghanistan.
While economic and political guards will not do a significant amount to stop the new reality within the Middle East, it still presents itself as one of the only and most likely steps that the United States government may take. In cooperation with Russia and China, both of which have already worked on military exercises near Afghanistan, the United States has to play a crucial role in preventing the spread of terrorism, even if the pullout from Afghanistan was a failure.