Monday, September 11th, marks the 22nd anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States, when nearly 3,000 people were killed when hijacked jetliners crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania.
Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attacks and a U.S.-led war in Afghanistan followed for 20 years.
Within days, former president George W. Bush responded to the attacks by saying: “On my orders, the United States military has begun strikes against al-Qaeda terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.” This marked the beginning of a new era of conflict.
The United States embarked on its longest war, standing shoulder to shoulder with a new government in Afghanistan that Washington helped establish after ousting the Taliban from power.
The sounds of America’s war with the Taliban echoed through the mountains and valleys of Afghanistan for two decades.
A pivotal moment came in May 2011 when American forces located and killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. It was a symbolic victory, but the conflict endured.
On February 29, 2020, after almost 20 years of conflict, the United States signaled an unexpected shift in its stance, no longer casting a shadow of enmity over the Taliban. Pledging friendship, the U.S. initiated peace talks.
In a historic move, President Joe Biden ordered a complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, an exit without conditions, by September 11, 2021, marking the twenty-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Yet, twenty-two years after those attacks, the United Nations Security Council still grapples with the specter of global terrorism emanating from Afghanistan.
The presence and activities of nearly twenty terrorist groups, including ISIS and al-Qaeda, loom ominously under the shadow of the Taliban.
Arian Sharifi, a former National Security Council assessment official in Afghanistan, reflects on the outcome, stating: “The Americans came out of the region without achieving anything in my opinion. They gave legitimacy to groups that they were chasing as terrorists through the Doha agreement. Unfortunately, the main price was paid by the Afghan people.”
The Taliban, however, now claims to maintain security across the country, but the region and the world remain deeply concerned about the persistent global terrorist threat.
Meanwhile, the people of Afghanistan, the primary victims of these tumultuous developments, have seen many of their fundamental rights eroded under the shadow of the Taliban regime. Hunger and hardship once again afflict them, casting a shadow over their daily lives.