The 20-year mission in Afghanistan for which the United States (US) had sacrificed tremendous blood and treasure ended in the worst way imaginable with a poorly planned and executed withdrawal that saw the Taliban immediately retake power and form a hardline interim government that includes known terrorist leaders. The manner in which the US handled negotiations with the Taliban over the last three years contributed to the speed with which they were able to over-run the country in August 2021. The return of Taliban rule will likely increase terrorism challenges both for the region and on a global scale as groups like Al-Qaeda rebuild in the country and foreign terrorist fighters relocate there to find shelter under a regime ruled by fellow Islamist radicals. Moving forward, the US must work with like-minded nations to condition assistance and diplomatic recognition on the Taliban meeting certain human rights and counterterrorism conditions and improve its remote counterterrorism capabilities.
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