Americans are leaving Afghanistan: what now?

“We wrote history”. Anas Haqqani, a leader of the fundamentalist movement of the Taliban, welcomed the departure of the US military, which withdrew completely from Afghanistan on the night of Monday to Tuesday. This departure puts an end to twenty years of war against the Taliban, now masters of the country. Accompanying this historic moment, painful for US President Joe Biden, victorious gunfire erupted in Kabul, the Taliban celebrating their takeover of the airport in the Afghan capital.

The defeat of the Americans, who left Afghanistan after twenty years of presence, is a “lesson” for other invaders and for the world, said on Tuesday the main spokesman of the Taliban, Zabihullah Mujahid, at the airport. Kabul, then the Taliban came to power on August 15 after a lightning offensive.

The US military withdrawal was therefore completed 24 hours before the end of the day on August 31, a deadline set by President Joe Biden. However, there are still between 100 and 200 Americans still present in Afghanistan, according to details given Monday by the head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken. Washington will continue to “help” American nationals who want to leave the country after the departure of the troops, he stressed. Some 6,000 US nationals have been evacuated since the airlift was set up on August 14.

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US “Will Work” With Taliban If “Keeps Its Promise”

Joe Biden will address his fellow citizens this Tuesday, many of whom are wondering what these two decades of engagement in Afghanistan have ultimately served. After that ? The United States “will work” with the Taliban if they “keep their commitments,” Antony Blinken said on Monday. “Every step we take will not be based on what the Taliban government says, but on what it does to meet its commitments,” said Antony Blinken, stressing that Afghanistan’s new masters should “deserve” their demand for legitimacy and support from the international community.

At the same time, the UN Security Council adopted Monday a resolution setting in stone the “commitments” of the Taliban in favor of the “safe” departure of those who want to leave Afghanistan. Thirteen of the fifteen members voted in favor of this text drafted by the United States, France and the United Kingdom, while China and Russia abstained. In the resolution, the Council says it “expects” that the Taliban will keep all their “commitments”, in particular with regard to “the safe departure” and “order” from Afghanistan “of Afghans and foreign nationals”.

According to the resolution, the Security Council also “reaffirms” the importance of “respect for human rights, including those of women, children and minorities”, and “encourages” the establishment of an inclusive political solution. “with a” significant “participation of women.

On the other hand, this resolution makes no reference to the “safe zone”, or protected zone, mentioned by Emmanuel Macron. Sunday, the French president had declared that Paris and London would plead at the UN for the creation of such a zone in Kabul, in particular to allow the continuation of the “humanitarian operations”.

However, the Elysée was delighted with the adoption of the resolution. “We got what we asked for, namely what was needed for the airport to be a safe place for those who want to leave Kabul,” said the French executive. Questioned Monday, diplomats at the UN explained that it was not a “protected area” per se but rather to hold the Taliban accountable for their commitment to allow a “safe passage” for the candidates to the departure.

Taliban threats against ISIS in Khorasan

The UN Security Council resolution also “demands” that Afghan territory not be used to “threaten or attack” other countries or to harbor “terrorists”. A strong enmity, however, opposes the Taliban and the Islamic State to Khorasan (EI-K), which has carried out deadly attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan for several years. This group claimed responsibility for the attack on Thursday near Kabul airport, where thousands of candidates for exile were crowding. This attack left a hundred dead, including thirteen American soldiers. This local branch of ISIS also claimed responsibility for the rocket attack that targeted Kabul airport on Monday.

ISIS’s attacks in Afghanistan are expected to end with the departure of US troops from the country, failing which the new government will crack down on this group, main Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid assured Monday in an interview with AFP. “We hope that the Afghans who are under the influence of ISIS (…) will abandon their operations seeing the establishment of an Islamic government in the absence of foreign powers,” he said. .

“If they create a situation of war and continue their operations, the Islamic government (…) will take care of them,” warned Zabihullah Mujahid, whose movement promised peace upon coming to power two decades later. to have been driven out. Taking a radical Sunni line similar to that of the Taliban, the IS-K, however, diverges from the latter in terms of theology and strategy. The two groups are in direct competition to embody jihad. A sign of the strong differences between the two, IS-K called the Taliban apostates in several statements and did not congratulate them after their capture of Kabul on August 15.

The Taliban have promised to put in place an “inclusive” government, but only after American and foreign troops have left the country. Negotiations around the formation of the new executive are still ongoing. “It is important to announce the government, but it takes a lot of patience. We are in the process of consulting to form the government in a responsible manner,” said Zabihullah Mujahid, citing “some technical problems” but without giving more details.

A complex future

On the ground, the country is operating slowly. Banks, government departments and other public institutions remain largely closed. Several officials told AFP that they had been prevented from returning to work by the Taliban, who announced upon their return to power a general amnesty for all state officials. The latter promised to improve the Afghan economy but, without access to international aid and funds held abroad, the future of the country, one of the poorest in the world, looks complex.

On Sunday, Abdul Baqi Hazzani, the acting minister of higher education in the Taliban government, assured that Afghan women could study at university, but in single-sex classes, the new regime also showing its intention to offer a “Islamic and Reasonable” curriculum.

Since taking power in mid-August, the Taliban have tried to display an image of openness and moderation, especially on social networks, in the face of fears of a return of the same type of fundamentalist and brutal regime as when they were in power between 1996 and 2001. The education of girls and women was then prohibited.

Afghans “will be able to continue their higher education in accordance with Sharia (Islamic law) in safety, without women and men being mixed”, announced Abdul Baqi Hazzani. The Taliban want to create “an Islamic and reasonable curriculum, in accordance with our Islamic, national and historical values, and, on the other hand, to be able to compete with other countries,” he said. Girls and boys will also be separated at primary and secondary levels, which is already widespread across the country, still very conservative.

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In the face of the Taliban, resistance was organized in the Panjshir valley, north-east of Kabul, around the National Resistance Front (FNR), led by Ahmad Massoud, son of Commander Ahmed Shah Massoud, assassinated in 2001 by Al- Qaeda, and Amrullah Saleh, deputy chairman of the ousted government. Made up of fighters from anti-Taliban militias and former members of the Afghan security forces, it vowed to resist the Taliban. Both parties have said they want to resolve the impasse through negotiations, but no progress has been made on the fate of this strategic area.



Gwénaëlle Avice-Huet is Senior Vice President in charge of Schneider Electric's strategyGwénaëlle Avice-Huet is Senior Vice President in charge of Schneider Electric’s strategy


Economist and essayist, Nicolas Bouzou is the founder and director of the Asterès consulting firm.Beatrice Mathieu


Frédéric Filloux is a columnist for L'Express and editor of the Monday Note.Frédéric Filloux


Each week, the Bookstore of the eco offers a title in the news.Jean-Marc Daniel

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