Press release

Afghanistan: Coming full circle 20 years later

Over the course of the last twenty years, the political and security landscape across Afghanistan has experienced many phases. From America’s initial intervention after 9/11, with the support of NATO and coalition forces, to overthrow the Taliban and dismantle terrorist safe-havens, the country was a geopolitical priority for national policymakers. This early regime change brought about civilian optimism and the prospect of democracy and the proliferation of lasting human and women’s rights.

In 2003 America’s decision to intervene in Iraq signalled the start of a troubled period for Afghanistan that allowed the Taliban and their proxies to regroup and challenge this ongoing transformation. In concert with the Taliban’s resurgence on the battlefield, years of graft and ineffective governance produced civilian frustration and space for exploitation. As the spectre of extremism waned and was replaced by the return of great power competition, Afghanistan gradually declined in international importance.

Outside of the country in America, growing domestic dissatisfaction with the status quo accelerated Washington’s decoupling with its longest-running war and partners on the ground. Today the situation in Afghanistan has come full circle with the Taliban back in control of the country and charting a course on governance and security.

Below you will find a collection of commentaries and articles from GLOBSEC researchers explaining how Afghanistan got to where it is now, how the failure occurred, as well as what it means within the European and international context.