Afghanistan 2021: US Withdrawal, the Taliban return and regional geopolitics

Boni, Filippo (2022). Afghanistan 2021: US Withdrawal, the Taliban return and regional geopolitics. Asia Maior, XXXII pp. 375–391.



Afghanistan in 2021 was characterised by the withdrawal of US troops and by the sudden fall of Kabul to the Taliban in August. After 20 years of war, and US$ 2.3 trillion spent in the conflict, the US was eventually out of Afghanistan and the Taliban back in power. The latter’s ability on the battleground did not translate in the capacity to govern the country, whose population suffered a dramatic deterioration in living conditions, also due to the freezing of assets and cuts in international aid following the Taliban takeover. Hopes that the Taliban had become a moderate force were dashed by the new cabinet announcement. Rather than being representative of the Afghan social fabric, the cabinet did not include any women and was mostly formed by Pashtuns, to the neglect of other Afghan ethnic groups. The international relations of Afghanistan under the new Islamic regime saw Pakistan, China and Russia increasing their influence, amid concerns that instability in the country could have significant repercussions on their domestic politics. Among the regional players, India is the one that has been weakened more significantly by the American exit and the return of the Taliban. [math mode missing closing $]

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