The 9/11 terrorist attacks shaped American politics for decades. In 2021, the Biden Administration’s timetable for withdrawal of military forces from Afghanistan was for domestic political reasons firmly tied to the 20th anniversary of 9/11. The problem was, nobody thought to remind President Joe Biden that the Taliban government also had a 20th anniversary to consider: their previous expulsion from Kabul.
By early September 2001, the military situation in Afghanistan was comparatively stable. The Taliban had, with Pakistani support, occupied large parts of the country, although not 95% of Afghanistan’s territory – a patently untrue claim that the Taliban had quickly convinced a timid international media without direct access to accept. The ex-mujahidin Northern Alliance, due to its foreign sponsors, remained in the north and in various inaccessible locations throughout the country. The Northern Alliance was a remnant of the Islamic State of Afghanistan, the mujahidin
government that came into being after the fall in 1992 of the secular, leftist Republic of Afghanistan which until 1989 enjoyed Soviet support. The Taliban held the major cities, but at least the non-Pashtun parts of the country remained vulnerable to Northern Alliance strikes and many of Afghanistan’s 325 districts had not seen any Taliban presence…

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