The US has ruined Afghanistan. It can’t just walk away now | Simon Tisdall

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The departure of American troops risks civil war, and many Afghans fear the return of a fundamentalist society

The approaching US withdrawal from Afghanistan is not an honourable retreat – it’s a capitulation. The best the Americans can hope for in exit talks with the Taliban, due to resume in Doha later this month, is a promise that coalition troops, unlike the British army led by General Elphinstone in 1842, will not depart under fire. After more than 17 years of conflict, with at least 38,000 civilians killed and millions more injured, traumatised or exiled, none of the long-term objectives set out by George W Bush following the 2001 invasion has been met. In short, the US has lost the war, and lost badly.

The al-Qaida terrorists who used Afghanistan as a base from which to launch the 9/11 attacks have not been wholly vanquished, as Bush promised. Their former leader, Osama bin Laden, is dead but the group, and likewise Islamic State, made territorial gains in Afghanistan last year, according to UN experts. It is unlikely that Taliban leaders could in future prevent jihadists once again using parts of the country as a terrorist safe haven – a key demand of American negotiators – even if they sincerely wanted to.

Related: US framework deal with Taliban raises hope of Afghan peace

Related: Trump wants out of America’s longest war, but Afghans can’t just walk away

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Link : The US has ruined Afghanistan. It can’t just walk away now | Simon Tisdall


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