The People We’re Leaving Behind in Afghanistan

Young Afghans defied the Taliban and signed on to reconstruction efforts, only to learn that U.S. and NATO forces would be abruptly withdrawn.

Link: https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/the-people-were-leaving-behind-in-afghanistan
“There’s little reflection on failures and America’s role in these failures,” Akbar said. “That’s frustrating to watch. We are being left with a huge mess. We are being told to deal with it mostly on our own. Of course, it’s our responsibility. It’s our country. But it’s not a mess we created on our own.”

A City Under Siege: What the War Looks Like on Afghanistan’s Front Line

As bullets from a Taliban machine gun ricocheted through the street below, an Afghan soldier wearing an “I Heart Kabul” T-shirt took a brief rest. “There has been fighting day and night.”

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/13/world/asia/afghanistan-helmand-taliban.html
As the planes departed and the smoke drifted lazily into the air, Captain Safi laid back on a green cot and put his hand to his temple, exhausted. At 28, he had been in the military for 11 years. “It has been a tough decade,” he said.

U.S. Built the Afghan Military Over 20 Years. Will It Last One More?

As the United States withdraws from Afghanistan, it leaves behind broken and battered Afghan security forces to defend the country from the Taliban and other threats.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/28/world/asia/afghanistan-security-forces.html
Until recently, Lieutenant Atash was in charge of several police outposts. One sold out to the Taliban. Another was overrun. At least 30 of his officers have abandoned their posts, he said.

Opinion | I Met a Taliban Leader and Lost Hope for My Country

Afghan women know the cost of the wars started by men, and we will continue to suffer after American forces withdraw.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/21/opinion/Afghanistan-Taliban-Women.html
As men continue to bicker over the future and control of Afghanistan, I have already lost my home and my country. I worked in Kabul as a television journalist for 12 years, and finally left in November after threats to my life.

Opinion | Biden Ditches the Generals, Finally

Another casualty in the graveyard of empires.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/17/opinion/sunday/biden-afghanistan-war.html
Gates told reporters he had only just learned the “eye-opener” that the Taliban were attracting so many fighters because they paid more. Generals in Afghanistan said the Taliban were giving fighters $250 to $300 a month, while the Afghan Army was paying about $120. So Gates, employing the American way of throwing more money at a problem, got the recruits a raise to $240. And this pathetic bidding war with the Taliban was eight years in.

For Biden, an Anguishing Choice on Withdrawal from Afghanistan

Five factors will influence the U.S. role and the prospects for peace after two decades of war.

Link: https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/for-biden-an-anguishing-choice-on-withdrawal-from-afghanistan
“The expectation that violence would gradually reduce as we went into the peace process is not taking place,” Miller said. Attacks on American forces have stopped, but more than ten thousand Afghans—a significant number of them civilians—have died since the U.S.-Taliban deal, a senior Army officer, who is now on his seventh deployment in Afghanistan, told me. Dozens of Afghan soldiers are dying every day in what has become a “staggering” death toll, General Kenneth (Frank) McKenzie, Jr., the head of the U.S. Central Command, told me when I travelled with him to Kabul this month. Americans haven’t taken notice because Americans are not the ones dying.

Last Exit from Afghanistan

Will peace talks with the Taliban and the prospect of an American withdrawal create a breakthrough or a collapse?

Link: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/03/08/last-exit-from-afghanistan
In my meeting with Ghani, he seemed abandoned, like a pilot pulling levers that weren’t connected to anything. He professed gratitude to the United States, but was clearly uneasy with the deal. Recently, he said, he had ordered the release of five thousand Taliban prisoners—“not because I wanted to, because the U.S. pushed me.” He feared a security disaster, as Taliban fighters returned to the streets and American soldiers left the country. “The U.S. can withdraw its troops anytime it wants, but they ought to negotiate with the elected President,” he went on. “They should call me. I’m the elected President.”

She Killed an American in 2012. Why Was She Freed in the Taliban Deal?

The internal debate in Washington over the fate of an Iranian prisoner in Afghanistan illustrates one of the difficult decisions the end of a war brings.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/15/world/asia/afghanistan-prisoner-exchange-taliban.html
As peace negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban continue in Qatar, the internal debate in Washington over Ms. Hasan’s fate illustrates one of the difficult decisions that efforts to end a war can bring. To some officials, particularly those inside the F.B.I. and other national security organizations, her release by the Afghan government, under pressure from the Trump administration, was an affront to justice.

‘I Could Just Vanish’: In Kabul, Pocket Notes to Prevent Anonymous Death

As violence engulfs them, some Afghans carry notes with their names, blood types and relatives’ phone numbers in case they are killed or severely wounded.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/12/world/asia/afghanistan-attacks-pocket-notes.html
“This is how we live in Afghanistan,” she added. “It is not just me. I talk to some people who say goodbye to their families every morning because they don’t know what will happen to them during the day.”

Targeted Killings Are Terrorizing Afghans. And No One Is Claiming Them.

Most officials believe the Taliban are behind the attacks on civil leaders, but others fear that factions are using chaos as a cover to settle scores, in an echo of Afghanistan’s past civil war.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/02/world/asia/afghanistan-targeted-killings.html
KABUL, Afghanistan — A military prosecutor who thought upholding the law was the highest honor, a doctor who inspired her family to study medicine, a journalist who wanted to hold those in power to account and a human-rights activist who sought to combat poverty in her home province: all murdered within weeks by unknown attackers as winter settled over Afghanistan.

How a ‘Distorted Culture’ Led Elite Australian Troops to Kill 39 Helpless Afghans

The findings of a long-awaited military inquiry painted a scathing picture of a cavalier and deceitful ethos among special forces.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/18/world/australia/afghanistan-war-crimes.html
Commanders ordered junior soldiers to execute prisoners so they could record their first “kill,” then covered up their actions. Adolescents, farmers and other noncombatants were shot dead in circumstances clearly outside the heat of battle. Superior officers created such a godlike aura around themselves that troops dared not question them, even as 39 Afghans were unlawfully killed.

Why Trump Carried Out His Pentagon Purge

With his Administration coming to a close, the President is still reshaping the government around himself.

Link: https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/why-trump-carried-out-his-pentagon-purge
The situation in Afghanistan is tenuous. In February, American and Taliban diplomats signed an agreement, by which the United States would withdraw all of its forces once security conditions in Afghanistan were stable. But Trump has been reducing the number of U.S. troops even though the conditions have not yet been met. American officials say that the President has been undercutting his own negotiators and emboldening the Taliban. “The trouble with the Taliban is, they are getting everything for free now,” an American official told me.