Kabul [Afghanistan], August 14 (ANI): US President Joe Biden's decision to withdraw all United States and NATO troops from Afghanistan held dire consequences for President Ashraf Ghani government but few predicted that the Taliban will surge so rapidly taking control of about 85 per cent of the country.
Harlan Ullman, writing in The Hill, said that while many post-mortems will explain how and why this stunning reversal of fortune occurred with such rapidity, forecasting the likely consequences for Afghanistan, the region and US policy and credibility is a more difficult task.
Given the divergent interests and complicated politics that made Afghanistan the "graveyard of empires," establishing clear-cut winners and losers will prove elusive at best.
A Taliban victory does not mean a better future for that country, says Ullman.
In some cases, local warlords will remain in power, accommodate the Taliban or suffer strangulation by being cut-off from access beyond its limited areas of control. That could ignite local outbreaks of civil war and insurgencies against the Taliban.
Whether these will be persistent and widespread will depend on the brutality of Taliban rule and the capacity of Afghans to continue the fight after decades of violence and conflict.
Pakistan will attempt to impose greater influence on the Taliban through the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI). This will doom Prime Minister Imran Khan's outreach to improve relations with the US to failure.
The US has no illusions about Pakistan's past duplicity in denying its support of the Afghan Taliban. And, as terrorism grows, so will western concerns about the security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons, reported The Hill.
China is most likely will play a more reserved role. Aside from an interest in Afghanistan's rare earth minerals and other resources, China's Belt and Road initiative is not suited for these conditions and thus won't reach Afghanistan, says Ullman.
Russia will seek a more opportunistic posture to increase regional influence in large part to prevent spillover of violence and terrorism.
Iran, already exerting a strong presence in Nimroz province and Herat will try to expand that influence. Whether the Shia-Sunni tension and the continuing and growing drug trade will limit Tehran's aims is an open question, reported The Hill.
For the US, the Biden administration will be rightly chastised for abandoning many tens of thousands of Afghans and their families who supported and worked for coalition forces. Women will suffer, says Ullman.
Politically, while the Afghan debacle was a genuine bipartisan effort beginning with George W Bush's 2001 invasion and the subsequent slide into "nation-building" under Barack Obama's administration, President Biden will take the blame, Ullman added.
Republicans will use that to beat Democrats in the 2022 congressional elections, ironically for executing the promise Donald Trump made but couldn't keep ending the endless wars.
For allies, the change of presidents alone was reassuring to dismiss the notion of "America First" as US policy. But this withdrawal and the descent of Afghanistan into some form of chaos will not be ignored, says Ullman. (ANI)