It looks rather like the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks next month will be remembered less for the US finally extricating itself from its longest war than the Taliban regaining vast swathes of territory in the country.
In recent days, the US has ramped up fierce air strikes in support of Afghan government troops as Taliban forces advance on critical provincial capitals Herat, Kandahar and Lashkar Gah. The defense official told Starr that there was deep concern that the ultra-fundamentalist militia could take some of its target cities and trigger a collapse in confidence in the Afghan government.
Such a scenario would not only roll back gains, such as they are, from 20 years of Western involvement in the country. They would again expose its people to feudal-style rule and mean a return to discrimination against women and girls. It would also expose Biden to accusations he deserted Afghans for his own political ends and present him with a genuine foreign policy disaster, just as the pandemic he had hoped was over renews its assault on the US .
So, could the President change his mind?
It doesn’t seem very likely. Biden has long been skeptical of a prolonged troop presence in Afghanistan. And there’s no public yearning for America to stay for decades on end — like it did in South Korea for instance. And to be blunt, the reasoning the President spelled out in April when he decided to leave is about what is best for the US and not Afghans.
“No doubt, Kristina Timanovskaya is our hero; she found the courage to speak out and faced repressions for her bravery,” Tikhanovskaya told CNN’s Jim Sciutto, but raised fears for the runner’s safety even outside her country.
“Unfortunately, this case is also a sign that not a single Belarusian who has left the borders of Belarus is safe,” Tikhanovskaya said. “On the other hand, this is also a sign that the regime is fragile, insecure. If you are really in control of the situation, you don’t chase athletes for their comments on Instagram.”