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Prelims Capsule

International Relations

US intervention in Afghanistan – Did USA failed in Afghanistan?

US intervention in Afghanistan – Did USA failed in Afghanistan?


  • GS 2 || International Relations || India & its Neighbours || Afghanistan

Why in the news?

The withdrawal of USA from Afghanistan is testimony to the fact of the changing world order.


  • In February 2020, the United States and the Taliban signed the “Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan” in Doha, Qatar, under which the Trump administration made a similar decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by May 1, 2021, but it was conditional, i.e., if the Taliban agreed to a cease-fire.
  1. Taliban actions to prevent Al-Qaeda or any other terrorist organization from hiding in Afghanistan.
  2. A 90-day cease-fire agreement.
  3. UN-sponsored talks between the US, Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, and India to develop a consensus strategy for Afghanistan..
  4. A meeting between the Taliban and the Afghan government in Turkey in the hopes of forming an “inclusive” interim administration.
  5. A lasting truce and an agreement on the basic foundations of the future political system.
  • The Taliban had made the release of Taliban detainees a condition for initiating intra-Afghan negotiations, which began in September 2020 but failed to produce any results.


  • The United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) declared in April 2021 that they would remove all soldiers from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon (known as the 9/11 attacks).
    • During the first announcement, there were roughly 2,500-3,500 US soldiers in Afghanistan, with a NATO force of under 8,000. The military drawdown began in May and will be completed by the symbolic anniversary of September 11th.

The Major Events in the US War in Afghanistan:

  • In September 2001: Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, then-US President George W. Bush declared war on the Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.
  • In November 2001: The Taliban evacuated Kabul as the Northern Alliance and a US-led coalition marched into the Afghan capital.The Northern Alliance, formally known as the United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan, was a united military front formed in late 1996 after the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan seized control of Kabul.
  • The Bonn Agreement signed in Bonn, Germany, in December 2001, giving the Northern Alliance’s core actors the bulk of power and reinforcing the warlords. The Taliban regime has been declared defunct.Karzai was sworn in as the head of the Agreement’s 29-member governing council.
  • In between 2004-2009: General elections were held, and Karzai was re-elected for a second term as President.
  • In April 2014: Following a series of disputed elections, the United States brokered a power-sharing agreement for a so-called Unity Government, with Ashraf Ghani as President and Abdullah Abdullah as Chief Executive.
  • In December 2014: S and NATO soldiers formally completed their combat mission, shifting to a support and training role while continuing to conduct operations against Taliban and Al-Qaeda targets.
  • In between 2015 to 2018: In the east, an Islamic State affiliate arose, and the Taliban gained control of about half of the nation.
  • In September 2018: The United States named veteran Afghan-American diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad as a Taliban negotiator.
  • In September 2019: Following a spike in Taliban assaults, the US halted discussions with the group.
  • In February 2020: The Afghan Peace Agreement is signed as the first step toward a final peace agreement.

Reasons behind US Pulling Back:

  • The United States had long since concluded that the Afghan war was unwinnable, but it desired a face-saving withdrawal.
  • The current decision was based on information obtained by American intelligence, which indicated that Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups in Afghanistan do not constitute an immediate threat.
  • However, as is customary, some troops will stay in the area to provide diplomatic protection.
  • Following the withdrawal, the US can deploy covert Special Operations, Pentagon contractors, and intelligence operations to counter serious terrorist threats in the country.

Afghanistan’s Short- and Long-Term Effects:

  • The Taliban have made fast territory gains since the remaining US soldiers began withdrawing.
    • If the Taliban held control of 73 of Afghanistan’s 407 districts before May, by the end of June, the number had risen to 157.
    • They are contesting another 151 districts, leaving the government in control of 79. The Taliban’s military onslaught is focused on the northern districts, distant from their southern heartland, and many provincial capitals are under threat.
  • The government of President Ashraf Ghani undoubtedly faces a tough task as the Taliban have been launching attacks.
  • The Taliban’s chances of striking a peace deal with the Afghan government are slim, since they think they can defeat the Afghan government militarily.
  • Kabul may fall within six months, according to the American intelligence community..
  • The withdrawal of the Americans has shifted the battleground’s power balance in favor of the Taliban, who are already making quick gains and may launch a massive attack targeting city centers and province capitals after the Americans leave.
  • Experts believe there are three possible outcomes:
    • A political solution in which the Taliban and the government agree to a power-sharing system and cooperatively determine Afghanistan’s future, which appears to be a long shot at the moment.
    • An all-out civil war might erupt if the government, which is backed financially and militarily by the West, maintains control of important towns while the Taliban expands its territory in the countryside and other ethnic militias battle for their fiefs.
    • This is already taking shape. The Taliban have taken control of the country.

Impact on Others:

  • Impact on Taliban:
    • The latest announcement has taken away all incentives for the Taliban to engage in dialogue with the Afghan government, claiming that the US has breached the agreement by delaying the withdrawal from May to September, allowing the Taliban to take “countermeasures,” and that the US will be held liable for any future consequences.
    • The Taliban have said that they would not participate in a fresh round of discussions to determine Afghanistan’s future, which will take place in Turkey later in April 2021.
  • Impact on China:
    • It stands to lose a lot if Afghanistan remains unstable, since this might affect the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
    • A Taliban-led government in Afghanistan might spark instability in China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region, which is home to the Uighur minority.
    • In contrast, as a Pakistani ally, it may be able to play a larger role in Afghanistan.
  • On Russia:
    • The US withdrawal brings Russia full circle following its defeat and departure from Afghanistan three decades ago at the hands of US-backed Mujahideen.
    • Russia has stepped into the role of mediator in Afghanistan, although both the Taliban and the Afghan government have expressed reservations about its actions.
    • Russia’s strengthening ties with Pakistan might lead to Moscow taking on a post-US role in Afghanistan.
  • Impact on Iran:
    • It shares borders with both Pakistan and Afghanistan, so it sees both as active security concerns, and a Taliban administration in Kabul will further heighten this impression.
    • Iran, on the other hand, has recently played both sides because to its ties to the Hazaras in Afghanistan. Despite their mutual animosity and religious differences, Iran established ties to the Taliban a few years ago, hosting a Taliban delegation in Tehran.
  • Impact on Pakistan:
    • A Taliban takeover of Afghanistan would finally put a favorable force in control in Kabul, which the Pakistani Army has traditionally viewed as “strategic depth” in its eternal enmity with India.
    • Pakistan is attempting to counter India’s influence in Afghanistan by bringing the Taliban to Kabul. A violent takeover, on the other hand, would be unacceptably brutal in the eyes of the international community, leaving Afghanistan insecure.
    • In such a situation, Pakistan may confront a new flood of Afghan refugees as well as the growth of anti-Pakistan terror organizations like the Tehrik-i-Taliban.
    • Pakistan would like the Taliban to be accommodated in power through discussions and a peaceful solution from a strategic standpoint, as this would allow it to stabilize its war. -infested western frontier.
    • Pakistan will have to bear the whole brunt of the instability caused by a looming civil war and the resulting refugee crisis. It will have to keep an eye on Afghanistan’s instability as it threatens to pour over the border.
  • Impact on India:
    • Trump’s previous plan offered India a role by recognizing it as a regional stakeholder, but the new proposal has put a stop to any aspirations of India’s participation.
    • Another source of worry is terrorist groups with ties to India, such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, whom India’s security service thinks have already migrated in significant numbers to Afghanistan.
  • It was claimed that India initiated contact with the Taliban in Doha, indicating a late but realistic recognition on India’s part that the Taliban will play a key role in Afghanistan in the future years.
  • In dealing with the Taliban, India has three important areas.
    • Defending Indian assets in Afghanistan worth billions of rupees.
    • Preventing a future Taliban administration under Pakistani authority.
    • Ensuring that anti-India terrorist organizations sponsored by Pakistan do not receive assistance from the Taliban.
  • Previously, India opted not to engage the Taliban, but it now appears to be experimenting with a new approach.

Mains oriented question:

Discuss the implications of the United States’ departure from Afghanistan on India. (250 words)