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US Military Has Left Afghanistan – But What About Those Left Behind?

The Afghanistan War is officially over, but the future is uncertain for hundreds of Americans still there.

By:  |  August 31, 2021  |    582 Words
GettyImages-1234877922 Afghanistan

(MARCUS YAM / LOS ANGELES TIMES)

After two decades at war, the United States military has finally left Afghanistan. President Joe Biden set August 31, 2021, as the deadline for the United States to leave the country, and that day has arrived.

The conclusion of the war has gotten a lot of criticism – not because it was ending, but because of how it ended. The U.S. military started pulling out of Afghanistan before making sure civilians had the chance to leave. This resulted in a rushed, last-minute evacuation of American citizens and Afghans who had helped America during the 20-year-long war.

President Biden declared that the Afghan chapter of American history is over, saying:

“The past 17 days have seen our troops execute the largest airlift in US history, evacuating over 120,000 US citizens, citizens of our allies, and Afghan allies of the United States. They have done it with unmatched courage, professionalism, and resolve. Now, our 20-year military presence in Afghanistan has ended.”

Almost as soon as the U.S. military had withdrawn, the Islamic terrorist group called the Taliban took over the country – leaving America with control of just one airport to fly people out.

GettyImages-1234871526 Kabul airport

Kabul airport
(Photo by Xinhua via Getty Images)

In the two weeks since the Taliban takeover, the Biden White House says it has evacuated 6,000 U.S. citizens and helped airlift 122,000 people to safety. Other countries joined the effort, too; the United Kingdom states it evacuated more than 15,000 people, Germany 5,347, and Italy 5,011. Even American radio host Glenn Beck raised $30 million for a private rescue effort, hiring planes and working with a charity to transport 5,100 Christians and other people at risk of persecution from the Taliban, such as women and U.S. nationals.

August 30 was the final day of the evacuation, but that doesn’t mean everyone was able to leave. Getting to the airport was very difficult, especially as people had to travel through dangerous areas to get there. Once people arrived at the airport, they may not have been able to board a plane due to the large crowds. There was also the threat of terrorist attacks. On Thursday, August 26, two terrorist bombings took place near the airport gates, killing 13 U.S. Marines and soldiers, as well as many Afghans.

Many are saying this dangerous situation was the fault of the American government and its bad decisions. But is that the end of the story? Not really. According to the government, around 350 Americans have been left behind in Afghanistan, with no way to get out. What will happen to them? There is also the question of what will happen to the Afghan locals who helped the U.S. – will the Taliban take revenge on them? Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Taliban has promised to let people leave the country if they have the right papers, so there may be hope for them.

Other matters to think about are the weapons and military supplies left behind by the U.S. – reported to be worth billions of dollars. The Taliban is already collecting this equipment and will likely use it to control their country. Will Afghanistan once again become a place for terrorist groups to grow, as it was in the past?

Finally, how will these events affect the United States’ reputation around the world? Many people are suggesting American allies may not be able to trust the U.S. anymore – how could this affect America’s future, and the future of the world?

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