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The United States and its NATO allies bid a symbolic farewell to Afghanistan and the war that’s still going on there.
On June 14th, at the NATO summit, a goodbye was said to the efforts in Afghanistan.
The 18-year effort cost the United States alone $2.26 trillion, and the price in lives includes 2,442 American troops and 1,144 personnel among U.S. allies.
Afghan losses were a bit more substantial, including more than 47,000 civilians, up to 69,000 members of the national armed forces and police, and over 51,000 Taliban killed.
NATO itself doesn’t release information about how many troops it had lost.
The military effort followed the 2001 arrival of a U.S.-led coalition that ousted the Taliban for harboring al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
NATO plans to leave civilian advisers to help build up government institutions. The 30-nation alliance is also weighing whether to train Afghan special forces outside the country.
These advisors will not receive any protection, as well as those who fought alongside the NATO forces from the Afghan side, in case if the Taliban targets them.
This withdrawal gave the Taliban an impetus, and several districts have been captured between June 12th and 14th.
On June 12, Taliban fighters imposed control over two districts located in the central and northern regions of Afghanistan. The group announced its fighters had captured the district of Zare in the northern province of Balkh.
Later on the same day, the group imposed control over the district of Tolak in the central province of Ghor following a heated battle with government forces.
On June 14th, things ramped up as Taliban captured four new districts in four separate provinces.
The Taliban stepped up its operations against government forces across Afghanistan following the US announcement of a plan to pull all troops from the country by September 11. In the last two months, the group’s fighters took over the centers of at least 17 districts.
The situation is such that even before the withdrawal is complete, the Taliban may capture the majority of the country’s provinces and their districts.
Seeing this reality develop, and looking to further increase its influence, Turkey is attempting to make moves.
On June 13th, a day before he could meet US President Joe Biden, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkey will be the ‘only reliable’ country left to stabilize Afghanistan.
As relations between the US and Turkey have been tense in recent years, Erdogan said he wanted to turn a new page with the Biden administration.
Seeing as to what a stabilization force Ankara has been in northern Syria, Iraq, Libya and even Nagorno-Karabakh, there is ample room for skepticism.