The legacy of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, including the rise of the Taliban and the humanitarian crisis

Categories: Afghanistan


The withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan in 2021 marked the end of a two-decade-long military presence in the country. While the decision to withdraw was driven by various factors, including the desire to end America's longest war and shift its foreign policy priorities, the aftermath of the withdrawal had profound consequences. This essay examines the legacy of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, focusing on the resurgence of the Taliban and the humanitarian crisis that unfolded in the wake of the withdrawal.

Taliban Resurgence

The rapid resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan following the US withdrawal sent shockwaves across the world. The factors contributing to the Taliban's swift takeover of the country are multifaceted and interconnected.

The withdrawal of international support for the Afghan government was a pivotal turning point. This included the withdrawal of military assistance, intelligence sharing, and financial aid. Without this support, the Afghan security forces faced significant challenges in maintaining control. Consequently, the vacuum created by the absence of international backing allowed the Taliban to exploit the situation.

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Moreover, the Afghan government's rapid collapse was a crucial factor in the Taliban's resurgence. The government faced issues of corruption, weak governance, and internal divisions, which undermined its credibility and effectiveness. In the absence of a cohesive government, the Taliban capitalized on the power vacuum, swiftly advancing and capturing key territories.

Furthermore, the Afghan security forces, demoralized and poorly equipped after the US withdrawal, faced daunting challenges. The lack of effective coordination and leadership, combined with numerical disadvantages against the Taliban, contributed to their inability to resist the Taliban's advances.

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This disarray allowed the Taliban to move quickly, capturing major cities and provinces.

The Taliban's resurgence was also marked by a well-coordinated and strategic approach to its military campaign. Gradually encircling major cities, cutting off supply routes, and weakening the government's hold on key regions, the Taliban executed a carefully planned offensive. This approach culminated in the capture of Kabul, the Afghan capital, and the ultimate collapse of the government.

Humanitarian Crisis

The US withdrawal and the subsequent Taliban takeover exacerbated an already dire humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. The impact of the crisis has been felt across multiple dimensions, affecting the Afghan population in various ways.

International sanctions imposed on the Taliban, while intended to pressure the group, had significant collateral effects on the Afghan economy. The freezing of Afghan assets abroad further exacerbated the country's financial instability. As a result, Afghans faced economic hardship, with inflation soaring, the local currency collapsing, and unemployment skyrocketing.

Additionally, the return of the Taliban to power brought with it concerns about human rights and repressive policies. Reports of restrictions on women's rights, press freedoms, and access to education raised international alarm. These policies disproportionately affected women and minorities, further restricting their access to basic services and opportunities.

Afghanistan's economy was plunged into turmoil following the withdrawal. The loss of international aid, sanctions, and the freezing of assets resulted in a severe financial crisis. High inflation, a collapsing currency, and unemployment created a bleak economic landscape, leaving many Afghans struggling to afford basic necessities.

The humanitarian crisis also affected access to healthcare and education. Many healthcare facilities were forced to close or operate at limited capacity due to insecurity and a lack of resources. Schools faced similar challenges, with many children unable to attend classes, jeopardizing their future prospects.

Massive Humanitarian Needs

The US withdrawal and the subsequent events in Afghanistan have created massive humanitarian needs that continue to strain the country and international efforts to provide aid.

Food insecurity has become a pressing issue in Afghanistan. The combination of economic instability, disruptions in supply chains, and the displacement of people has led to widespread hunger and malnutrition. Families across the country are struggling to secure basic sustenance, exacerbating the suffering of Afghan civilians.

Access to healthcare remains a challenge, particularly in conflict-affected areas. Many Afghans face difficulties in obtaining medical care, leading to increased mortality rates from preventable diseases and childbirth complications. The lack of access to healthcare is a pressing concern that requires immediate attention.

The conflict and insecurity have led to the displacement of thousands of Afghans. Many have been forced to flee their homes, leading to a displacement crisis. These internally displaced persons (IDPs) face precarious living conditions and limited access to basic services. Addressing the needs of IDPs is crucial in mitigating the humanitarian crisis.

Humanitarian organizations have been working tirelessly to address the needs of the Afghan population. However, their efforts have been hindered by security concerns, funding shortages, and logistical challenges. Providing aid in a conflict zone is inherently complex, and the scale of the crisis in Afghanistan presents significant challenges.


The legacy of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan is a complex and multifaceted one, characterized by the resurgence of the Taliban and a deepening humanitarian crisis. The Taliban's swift takeover of the country exposed the vulnerabilities of the Afghan government and security forces, as well as the consequences of international withdrawal.

The humanitarian crisis that followed has had devastating effects on the Afghan population, particularly women, children, and minorities. Access to basic necessities like food, healthcare, and education remains a challenge for many Afghans. While humanitarian organizations continue their efforts to provide assistance, the scale of the crisis is immense, and addressing it requires a concerted international response.

The events in Afghanistan also underscore the broader challenges of nation-building, conflict resolution, and humanitarian intervention in complex and protracted conflicts. The US withdrawal serves as a sobering reminder of the importance of long-term engagement, comprehensive strategies, and international cooperation in addressing the root causes of conflicts and their humanitarian consequences. The road to stability and recovery for Afghanistan is long and fraught with challenges, but it is a path that the international community must continue to support and navigate with care and empathy.

Updated: Nov 09, 2023
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The legacy of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, including the rise of the Taliban and the humanitarian crisis. (2023, Nov 09). Retrieved from

The legacy of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, including the rise of the Taliban and the humanitarian crisis essay
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