United States has pulled all its troops out of Afghanistan, ending its longest war to cries of shame at home and celebratory gunfire from its victorious Taliban enemies in Kabul.
The last of the American troops overseeing a desperate evacuation effort flew out of Kabul airport on Monday night, completing a withdrawal that has raised deep questions about the United States’ status as a superpower.
Taliban fighters quickly swept into the airport and fired weapons into the sky in jubilation, celebrating an astonishing victory for the hardline Islamist movement two decades after US forces invaded Afghanistan and toppled them from power.
However, the Taliban will inherit a devastated country despite the United States spending billions to rebuild it, with deep poverty, drought and Islamic State threats among the many challenges.
For the Afghan people, many are terrified of a repeat of the Taliban’s initial rule from 1996-2001, which was infamous for their treatment of girls and women, as well as a brutal justice system.
The withdrawal came just before the end of an August 31 deadline set by President Joe Biden to call time on America’s longest war — one that ultimately claimed the lives of more than 2,400 US service members.