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HomeGeopolitical CompassThe AmericasMiscue After Miscue, U.S. Exit Plan Unravels

Miscue After Miscue, U.S. Exit Plan Unravels

Authors: Michael D. Shear (White House correspondent), David E. Sanger (White House and national security correspondent), Helene Cooper (Pentagon correspondent), Eric Schmitt (senior writer, Times staff since 1983), Julian E. Barnes (National security reporter), and Lara Jakes (diplomatic correspondent)

Organization/Publisher: The New York Times

Date/Place: August 21, 2021 / New York, USA

Type of Literature: Analysis

Word Count: 3000


Keywords: Afghanistan, Taliban, US, Occupation, Diplomacy, Military, Strategy


Written by a team of New York Times correspondents which includes 4 journalists that have won multiple Pulitzer Prizes, this analysis of US’ intelligence and strategic failure in securing the safe and orderly exit from Afghanistan sheds light on the last days in Afghanistan under the Biden administration. The US military expected the Afghan Army to resist the Taliban and that takeover “was not likely for at least 18 months.” However, the Taliban regained control of Kabul in a matter of a few weeks as the US-backed Afghan army melted down – showing no resistance, either fleeing to neighboring countries or joining the Taliban. Classified intelligence services informed President Biden that the US had time to evacuate from Afghanistan—but they had no luxury of time. The 20-year-long war in Afghanistan has come to an end after the Taliban struck a deal with then-President Donald Trump. According to the Doha deal between Washington and the Taliban, the foreign occupying forces were supposed to leave by May 1, but the exit from the war-torn country was extended by the Biden administration until Sept. 11. The Americans had no idea that the Taliban would enter Kabul on Aug. 15, weeks ahead of the exit deadline. They were instead processing visas, running against time amid the steady march of the Taliban towards the country’s capital. Amid this process of the world’s biggest disorganized evacuation, absconding Afghan President Ashraf Ghani flew to meet Biden at the White House on June 25. Ghani made three requests: to slowdown issuing visas to those who worked for America and turn the process into a “low key” affair, or else it will erode trust in Ghani’s government; and speeding up security assistance and continuous air strikes against the Taliban. Americans knew a direct combat with the Taliban would invite wrath. Ghani was advised to secure key locations and consolidate his “ghost” Afghan forces, but he did otherwise and the government collapsed before the Taliban regained control of the country on August 15 morning.

By: Riyaz ul Khaliq, CIGA Non-resident Research Associate



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