Leaving Afghanistan

What happens to the country after the forever war ends?

The Taliban delegation leaves the hotel after meeting with representatives of Russia, China, the United States, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Qatar in Moscow on March 19.

China and the Taliban Begin Their Romance

Beijing has its eyes set on using Afghanistan as a strategic corridor once U.S. troops are out of the way.

Soldiers lift a coffin into a van during the dignified transfer of two U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan

Why Afghanistan Is America’s Greatest Strategic Disaster

Pompeo's plan to make peace with the resurgent Taliban is a sad reminder of all that went wrong in Afghanistan—and how it could have been otherwise.

Afghan militia gather with their weapons to support Afghanistan security forces.

‘It Will Not Be Just a Civil War’

Afghanistan’s foreign minister on what may await his country after the U.S. withdrawal.

The Road to Peace

A mural showing a peace deal between the United States and the Taliban is depicted in Kabul.

If the Taliban Wins the War, Can They Still Lose the Peace?

The United States vowed to destroy the Taliban. Today, they are stronger than ever. But will that last?

Ashraf Ghani shakes hands with Biden.

Can Biden Save Ashraf Ghani?

To stop the Taliban’s advance and his government’s collapse, the Afghan leader must check his hubris at the White House door.

Members of Afghanistan's peace negotiation team

How to Close the Gender Gap in Peace Talks

Women’s representation is critical to lasting peace, but they are losing ground at the negotiating table.

ghani saleh afghan doha talks

There’s No Shortcut to Peace in Afghanistan

Washington’s latest idea of a transitional government would be worse than the dysfunctional status quo.

Afghanistan’s Neighbors

Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon

Central Asia Braces for Fallout of U.S. Pullout From Afghanistan

Since the war began, America has had one lens for Central Asia. What happens now?

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives ahead of the inauguration of the Salma Hydroelectric Dam in Herat, Afghanistan on June 4, 2016.

India Is Scrambling to Get on the Taliban’s Good Side

After decades of supporting the Afghan government, New Delhi is planning for its potential fall.

An Afghan man squats while a group of U.S. Army soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division secure the local bazaar in Yayeh Kehl, near Kabul, Afghanistan, on Nov. 14, 2002.

America, the Afghan Tragedy, and the Subcontinent

Four decades of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan have left South Asia transformed—and on the cusp of a realignment.

Women in Afghanistan

Director of Afghan Women Network, Mary Akrami, Afghan civil society and women’s rights activist Laila Jafari, and member of the Wolesi Jirga Fawzia Koofi attend the Intra-Afghan Dialogue talks in Doha on July 7, 2019.

Afghanistan Can’t Achieve Stability Without Women

To reach a gender-conscious peace deal with the Taliban, Afghan negotiators need more time—and U.S. support.

A woman wearing a burqa walks past the site of a shooting in Kabul.

Afghan Women’s Problems Don’t End With the Taliban

A new U.S. intelligence assessment suggests women’s rights in Afghanistan face threats even without a Taliban takeover.

Women wait to receive wheat in Kabul.

Women Cut Out of the Afghan Peace Process

Two decades of progress are threatened by the Taliban return—and a hasty U.S. exit.

A doctor measures the blood pressure of a patient at the Kahdistan health clinic in Herat province, Afghanistan, on Oct. 7. The increasing presence of midwives across the country has started to play a role in improving a mother’s and baby’s chances of survival. Afghanistan’s maternal mortality rate has dropped from 1,300 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2002 to 638 deaths per 100,000 births in 2017.

Looming Aid Cuts Will Harm Afghan Women’s Health

With violence on the rise and the U.S. military drawing down, international donors are pulling back some assistance to Afghanistan. Women in refugee camps stand to suffer.

A Taliban Takeover?

Soldiers in Afghanistan's Bamiyan province

A ‘Life and Death Fight’ Against the Taliban in Central Afghanistan

Bamiyan, home to the Taliban-wrecked Buddhas, might be the start of Afghanistan’s pushback against the insurgents.

A Taliban commander ahead of an interview with AFP.

The Taliban Are Winning the War of Words in Afghanistan

The government’s radio silence is handing a propaganda victory to the insurgents.

A young shepherd plays with his sheep.

‘The Taliban Have Tracked Me’

In Logar province, just outside of Kabul, fear of a Taliban takeover rises.

An Afghan boy looks on in a damaged house near the site of an attack in Kabul.

Taliban Map Out Future Vision for Afghanistan

The militant group’s spokesman vows to “continue our war” until Afghanistan has an Islamic government.

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Afghan refugees arrive in Greece.

Biden’s Afghan Withdrawal Will Spark the Next Refugee Crisis

The European allies that fought alongside the United States will face the fallout as thousands of refugees flee the Taliban, giving fodder to far-right parties.

The CIA helps Vietnamese evacuees.

Is Biden Haunted by Vietnam? Should He Be?

The president said this withdrawal will be nothing like what happened in 1975, but there are some striking parallels.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about the situation in Afghanistan from the East Room of the White House in Washington on July 8.

Biden Defends Troop Withdrawal as Taliban Forces Advance

As U.S. focus moves elsewhere, regional powers are closely watching Afghanistan’s fate.

A U.S. Army advisor for the Afghan Air Force

U.S. to Prop Up Afghan Air Force

Afghanistan will get an injection of contractor support and planes for its beleaguered Air Force.

Tents at a camp for internally displaced families are pictured in Dand district, Afghanistan, on Jan. 7.

Will the End of the U.S. War Create More Afghan Refugees?

With the Taliban insurgency expanding, the U.S. withdrawal could provoke a major humanitarian crisis.

Charkint District Governor Salima Mazari points a gun as she visits  forces in Charkint district of Balkh province on June 29.

With the Militias in Afghanistan

As Afghan forces melt away, local armed groups are left to hold the line against the Taliban.

An anti-drone protest in Pakistan

Why U.S. Drone Strikes Are at an All-Time Low

The shift comes as the White House seeks to downgrade the threat of global terrorism after 20 years of “forever wars.”

Interpreters demonstrate for U.S. visas.

‘Now I Can’t Go Home’

Afghan interpreters who worked with the U.S. military clamor for U.S. visas to escape Taliban retribution.

Young people sit at the Wazir Akbar Khan hilltop during a national day of mourning in Kabul on May 11.

Top Afghan Leaders Visit the White House at a Low Moment

With the situation in Afghanistan rapidly deteriorating, expect the mood to be grim when Ghani and Abdullah meet Biden.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attends the NATO summit.

Turkey Looks to Expand Footprint in Afghanistan

Ankara is well positioned to play key roles after the U.S. withdrawal.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen speaks about seven women from Afghanistan who were assassinated for their efforts to improve the lives of Afghans.

Afghan Interpreters in the Crossfire of U.S. Pullout

Future U.S. partners will have to “think twice” about helping the Pentagon if Biden isn’t able to grant visas to Afghan interpreters, lawmakers said.

Members of Afghanistan’s Crisis Response Unit 222, an Afghan special police unit, participate in a training slowed down for the media in Kabul on Sept. 7, 2017.

The United States Needs Central Asian Partners to Protect Afghanistan’s Future

Ambitious post-withdrawal hopes can’t be achieved without bases nearby.

An Afghan Commandos soldier stands guard.

Afghan Air Force Could Be Grounded After U.S. Pullout

The one advantage the Afghan army had on the Taliban looks set to slip away with the hasty U.S. withdrawal.

A street vendor walks past a mural depicting an Afghan National Army soldier in Kabul on June 10.

U.S. Withdrawal Constrains Counterterrorism Options

Biden’s pledge to maintain U.S. capacity in Afghanistan without boots on the ground appears easier said than done.

Sons help their father at an Afghan hospital.

Afghanistan Swamped by COVID-19’s Third Wave

The government dithered and denied the pandemic’s severity. Now, a health disaster looms.

With the help of an interpreter (center), an Afghan National Army doctor (left) speaks with a U.S. Army advisor.

Inside Washington’s Fight to Save Afghans Who Saved Americans

Afghan interpreters were promised U.S. visas. Now, red tape may cost them their lives.

Onlookers stand near the site of multiple blasts outside a school.

Terror Attacks Surge in Afghanistan as U.S. Withdraws

Washington hopes to reduce spiraling Taliban violence, but it is losing its most potent leverage: troop presence.

Demobilized French soldiers arrive at the Gare de Lyon on their return from the First Indochina War in Paris, in May 1949.

What Biden Should Learn From Indochina

France’s withdrawal shows sometimes the costs of maintaining the status quo are higher than the costs of a drastic policy change.

A U.S. Army helicopter crewman mans a gun on the rear gate as it departs Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul on April 24, 2017.

Leaving Afghanistan Will Be More Expensive Than Anyone Expects

Penalties for broken contracts, fees for shipping equipment, and salaries for the Afghan military are just a few of the costs that will hit the United States as it leaves.

Former Afghan King Mohammed Zahir Shah arrives at Kabul’s international airport.

When Afghanistan Almost Worked

Five decades ago, before the great powers intervened, Afghanistan was on a much better path than today. But the longed-for “decade of democracy” was soon shattered.

Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar arrives for peace talks in Moscow.

Afghan Ambassador: ‘The Ball Is in the Taliban’s Court’

Roya Rahmani says the Taliban have no justification for continuing their war after the departure of international troops.

U.S. soldiers stand guard as U.S. President Donald Trump makes a visit to their airbase.

The U.S. Never Can Say Goodbye to Afghanistan

The Pentagon is going to need more firepower to pull out U.S. troops.

Afghan cadets take part in a firing exercise during a training program at the Officers Training Academy in Chennai, India, on Feb. 18.

Afghanistan Shows the Limits of India’s Power

With the United States departing, New Delhi is seeking new ways to project influence.

An Afghan man feeds pigeons.

Afghans Don’t Need U.S. Troops. They Need Islands of Stability.

Here’s how the Biden administration can prevent chaos in Afghanistan, even after it withdraws.

U.S. troops return home from Afghanistan

‘Bring the Troops Home’ Is a Dream, Not a Strategy

A full withdrawal from Afghanistan is a costly blunder and failure of leadership.

Children walk through ruins in the Qarabagh district of Afghanistan.

Afghans Haven’t Forgotten Taliban Atrocities

The United States’ withdrawal may be a balm domestically. It’s anything but for those that lived through the horror.

Then-U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrives at a U.S. base in Maidan Shar.

From Moral Responsibility to Magical Thinking: How Biden Changed His Mind on Afghanistan

After 9/11, Biden embraced the idea that U.S. troops should leave the country better than how they found it. Now, as president, he’s withdrawing them regardless.

A U.S. soldier during Operation Khanjari in Afghanistan.

Biden Just Made a Historic Break With the Logic of Forever War

But will he really end the United States’ other open-ended conflicts?

U.S. President Joe Biden walks through Arlington National Cemetery.

Biden’s War at Home Over Afghanistan Is Just Beginning

After making the right call on withdrawal, the U.S. president better get ready for second-guessing.

U.S. Army troops from the 10th Mountain Division collect their duffels after returning from a nine-month deployment in Afghanistan to Fort Drum, New York, on Dec. 8, 2020.

What to Do With U.S. Forces in the Persian Gulf

As the United States leaves Afghanistan, the question of troops in the Middle East to support the Afghan mission looms large.

biden afghan withdrawal

Is Leaving Afghanistan Misguided or Overdue?

Biden’s withdrawal announcement is meant to end a 20-year war, but Washington has been dragged back into conflicts before.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks from the Treaty Room in the White House in Washington on April 14.

How Will Biden Pivot on South Asia?

After the U.S. withdraws from Afghanistan, its rivalry with China is likely to define the new administration’s approach to the region.

Biden speaks about the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in the White House.

U.S. Bucks Won’t Stop in Afghanistan

Biden administration officials have said U.S. troops are leaving the battlefield in Afghanistan, but the U.S. aid spigot won’t end.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan from the Treaty Room in the White House in Washington, on April 14.

The Wisdom of Leaving Afghanistan

The United States hadn’t accomplished its goals in 20 years. The next few weren’t going to make much of a difference.

Afghan security forces conduct a military operation.

Biden’s Withdrawal Plan Sets the Clock Ticking in Afghanistan

With troops to depart on Sept. 11, the next five months are critical for any chance of peace.

A U.S. soldier fires a rocket-propelled grenade during a firefight with insurgents in the Pech Valley, Afghanistan, on June 22, 2012.

A Masterful Account of America’s Doomed Afghanistan Mission

Wesley Morgan’s “The Hardest Place” is embedded reporting at its finest.

kabul university attack

How Liberal Values Became a Business in Afghanistan

Washington promised to bring liberal democracy to Kabul. It created a bloated and ineffective sector of artificial NGOs instead.

A man reads a local newspaper showing a photograph of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, in Kabul on Nov. 8, 2020.

In Afghanistan, the Choice Isn’t Withdraw or Endless War

A middle path, with a greater role for India, is still possible—and preferable to either extreme.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wave prior to a meeting in New Delhi on Sept. 14, 2016.

India Joins the Afghan Peace Negotiations

Long sidelined by Islamabad, Moscow, and Beijing, New Delhi is finally taking a seat at the table.

U.S. President Joe Biden with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at the White House, Mar. 8.

Austin Calls for ‘Responsible’ End to Afghan War

The U.S. defense secretary, in a surprise visit to Afghanistan, warned that Taliban violence remains “pretty high” as Biden weighs withdrawal.

As vice president, Joe Biden visits an Afghan National Army (ANA) training center in Kabul on Jan. 11, 2011.

Biden’s Options in Afghanistan

The United States and Pakistan must work together to secure the country’s future.

A general view shows tents at a camp for internally displaced families in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, on Jan. 7.

Washington Makes a Last-Ditch Effort for Peace in Afghanistan

The Biden administration’s new strategy could put it on a collision course with President Ashraf Ghani.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at the State Department.

In Race Against Time, Biden Officials Launch New Afghan Peace Drive

Washington’s latest proposal would draw on Beijing, Moscow, and Tehran for support.

Joe Biden holds up a copy of his daily schedule, which includes statistics about how many U.S. troops have died while serving in Afghanistan and Iraq and updates about the coronavirus caseload in the U.S., while speaking before a roundtable event with military veterans at Hillsborough Community College on Sept. 15, 2020 in Tampa, Florida.

Biden Has a Plan to Not Break Afghanistan

New details are trickling out about how the United States is preparing to withdraw its troops without leaving chaos behind.

Security personnel walks past a wall mural with images of Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan, and and Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Kabul on July 31, 2020.

Biden Has No Good Options in Afghanistan

Facing a May 1 deadline to withdraw U.S. troops, the new administration must walk a tightrope toward peace.

Photographers, including Jawad Jalali, take shelter as a new explosion is heard while photographing an attack in Kabul in this archival photo.

‘This is the Darkest Moment’: Afghans Flee a Crumbling Country

The educated middle classes that were meant to be the foundation of a new Afghanistan are tired of terror, insecurity, and the return of the Taliban.

Afghan National Army Brig. Gen. Amlaqullah Patyani, the commander of the Kabul Military Training Center, introduces then-U.S. Vice President Joe Biden to Afghan recruits during a break in training on military operations in urban terrain during a two-day surprise visit to Kabul on Jan. 11, 2011.

How Not to Leave Afghanistan

Congress has issued a report on the longest war in U.S. history. Here’s hoping Biden ignores it.

A convoy crosses a bridge in Termez, now part of Uzbekistan, during the withdrawal of the Soviet Red Army from Afghanistan, on May 21, 1988.

America Is Going the Same Way as the Soviets in Afghanistan

The Soviet withdrawal was a disaster. The U.S. version looks eerily similar.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani arrives with the government delegation during a visit in Herat province, Afghanistan, on Jan. 21.

To Leave Afghanistan, Biden Must Solve His Ghani Problem

Even as the United States checks the Taliban, it must stop the Afghan president from playing the spoiler.

A plume of smoke rises over Khost city moments after a car bomb detonated at the gates of an Afghan National Security Forces base on Oct. 27, 2020, leading to an eight-hour battle between Afghan forces and unknown attackers part of a spate of violence in the region near Camp Chapman.

Another Base Attack in Afghanistan Hushed Up to Hurry U.S. Exit

Camp Chapman, once the scene of the CIA’s second-deadliest day, was hit again in December—but never reported.

A member of Afghan security force stands guard at the site of an attack in Kabul on Dec. 20, when a car bomb targeting an Afghan lawmaker killed nine people and wounded more than a dozen others.

As Peace Talks Reconvene, Afghanistan Grapples With Targeted Killings

2020 was one of the deadliest years on record for such assassinations, many of which are still unclaimed.

A beggar who said he lost his leg from a mine injury is seen in traffic on Sept. 21, 2019 in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Afghanistan Needs Truth Before It Can Have Reconciliation

Politicians and warlords have benefited from decades of violence. The victims of the country’s endless wars could provide the key to a lasting peace.

An Afghan toddler whose family has been internally displaced sleeps in a hammock at a refugee camp in Herat on April 21, 2018.

In Afghanistan, Bringing New Life Into the World Is Deadly

Terrorist violence and COVID-19 have set maternal health back decades.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to troops during a surprise Thanksgiving day visit at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan on Nov. 28, 2019.

Trump’s New Defense Secretary Announces Afghan Withdrawal

The hasty–and unexplained—move drew criticism from Republicans and the head of NATO.

An Afghan man cries beside the coffins of victims in a Taliban militant attack

Afghans Caught in the Crossfire While U.S. Prepares to Clear Out

Despite ongoing peace talks, intensifying Taliban attacks on Afghans across the country are out of control—and threaten the country’s future.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the troops during a surprise Thanksgiving visit at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan on Nov. 28, 2019.

Whatever Happens on Tuesday, Afghans Just Want an End to Their Own National Nightmare

Both Biden and Trump have pledged to pull U.S. troops out of Afghanistan. But the Taliban have a vote, too.

Flanked by Afghan soldiers, mujahideen fighters sit atop an armored personnel carrier with rocket launchers about 500 meters from the presidential palace in Kabul on April 25, 1992.

Afghanistan Is Not Doomed to Repeat Its Past

Peace talks in Afghanistan may come down to an agreement between the Taliban and Kabul on an interim government. Here’s how the sides can avoid the pitfalls of 1992 and 2001.

A coal trader lifts bags at a coal distribution workshop in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, on Sept. 26.

The Taliban’s Highway Robbery

After the peace deal with the United States, the militant group has doubled down on collecting “taxes” from Afghanistan’s coal miners.

Internally displaced people with their belongings flee from Nadali district to Lashkar Gah during the ongoing clashes between Taliban fighters and Afghan security forces in Helmand province on October 14, 2020.

The U.S. Once Surged into Helmand Province. Now the Taliban Is, Too.

As Afghanistan peace talks drag on, with Washington sending mixed signals on troop withdrawals, the Taliban make a violent bid for a key province.

Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar speaks during the opening session of peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Doha on Sept. 12.

How India Came Around to Talking to the Taliban

New Delhi is set to take on a greater role in Afghanistan’s peace process.