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Denver experts weigh-in on what happens to Afghanistan following U.S. withdrawal

Posted at 4:23 PM, Aug 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-31 20:34:53-04

DENVER — On Tuesday, during an address to the nation, President Joe Biden said 100 to 200 Americans remain in Afghanistan following the U.S. withdrawal. But according to security experts, hundreds of Afghans who supported America’s involvement in Afghanistan also remain in the country.

Last week, Haroon Zarify, who was stuck in Kabul but made it back to Englewood, said his family members provided security for Americans but were unable to get out of the country.

“My dad and my brother, they’ve been going every day with documents to the airport. At that checkpoint, they have to show this to the Taliban to get in the gate to get to the Americans. So they’ve all seen this. They (the Taliban) know my dad used to work with Americans,” Zarify said.

Nader Hashemi, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver, said the Taliban’s record of harassing, intimidating, and even killing those who worked the U.S. leaves room for skepticism as the organization now promises to be more peaceful.

“There’s a legitimate fear among Afghan citizens, particularly those that have visas to travel to the United States, who are known to have worked with the U.S. military, that if they’re stopped at a Taliban check point they could be harassed, intimidated, arrested or even killed,” Hashemi said.

Hashemi said moving forward, the Taliban should be held accountable.

“They claim they’re going to allow free passage; they claim they’re going uphold basic rights for citizens; they claim they want an inclusive government. I think the U.S., Europe, and Canada should tie future relations with the Taliban to conditionality, and those conditions should be the Taliban living up to its promises,” Hashemi said.

Hashemi said lawmakers should address what’s transpired in Afghanistan over the last 20 years.

“The American taxpayer poured over $1 trillion into Afghanistan,” Hashemi said. “There’s a need for accountability. What did we get for that investment? Where did things go wrong? Who’s responsible and what are the lessons to be learned for future military and diplomatic initiatives abroad?”

Hashemi said he thinks lawmakers should create a 9/11 style commission to find the answer to many of those questions.