Return of the Taliban: What next for Afghanistan?
A question of not if but when? The Taliban are continuing to gain ground ahead of the final withdrawal of US-led forces from Afghanistan, so much so that former military commanders predict the fall of Kabul within months. We ask about the latest fighting, the Afghan security forces who have fled across the border into Tajikistan and how a return of the Taliban to the place they were before 2001 would change the lives of ordinary citizens.
Ahead of a speech by Joe Biden on the drawdown that has included a surprise early departure from Bagram Air Base, we also gauge the mood among foreign powers. How much US support can there be without boots on the ground? Will Turkey ensure as promised the security of Kabul airport? And what about neighbours closer to home: Pakistan, India, Iran and also China?
China, an ally of Pakistan with its Belt and Road infrastructure building initiative, is worried that lawlessness will allow armed groups to mount attacks on its border in Xinjiang province, where the wholesale crackdown on Uighur Muslims has spawned blowback. Could Beijing now tread where the Soviets and the Americans got bogged down?
Produced by Charles Wente, Juliette Laurain, Léopoldine Iribarren and Jack Colmer Gale.
The Debate with François Picard will be taking a break over the European summer and will return on August 23.
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