With the recent killing of President Hamid Karzai’s half brother in Kandahar, Afghanistan is again in the spotlight as the United States attempts to withdraw the majority of her ground support in the country. But three security issues loom large as the military attempts to leave. They are: the potential reemergence of the Taliban, the possibility that the youth of the country will grow to resent the U.S.A., and the city of Kandahar itself.
The Potential Reemergence of the Taliban
The reason the United States put ground forces into Afghanistan was to oust the Taliban government that was running the country and providing safe haven for Al-Qaeda operatives. The initial push into Afghanistan was successful in removing Taliban members from positions of power and installing a new government under Karzai in its place.
But then, when the U.S. began to focus on Iraq, the Taliban began to creep back into the country. This caused Barack Obama to call for another troop surge into Afghanistan to again repel the Taliban advance. Again, the United States was temporarily successful. But the threat with the troop withdrawal is that the Taliban will again return. If the Taliban returns the instant the U.S. removes its ground presence from the country, then the Afghanistan mission has to be considered a failure. Additionally, if the Taliban regains control, it will again be able to harbor terrorists who pose a major security risk for the whole world. So the most pressing security threat is the threat of a reemergence of a Taliban-led government.
The Youth Population Grows to Resent the United States
The average age of the population in Afghanistan is only 18.2 years old. A full 42.3 percent of the population is currently 14 or younger. A population with these age demographics is highly impressionable, as most teenagers are. The second biggest threat to the United States’ security is that this population would grow to hate the America. If the military leaves Afghanistan and the government collapses or civil war breaks out between the current government and the Taliban or another challenger, it could wreck the country.
If the country does fall into a state of chaos, the young population of Afghanistan will likely view the United States’ entry and subsequent withdrawal as the root cause of the collapse. If this happens, it will not matter what government is in charge; they will have a distrust and dislike of the America. This would reopen Afghanistan as a safe-haven for terrorists who may attack the West.
The City of Kandahar
The city of Kandahar is the second largest in Afghanistan and has proved the most difficult to control for the United States and President Karzai. Additionally, it is known as one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Its police force is under-funded, and some estimates put assassinations at 20 per month or higher. If there was a place where a revolt could begin, it would be in Kandahar. If President Karzai cannot control Kandahar, it would very likely become a Taliban stronghold and a place where it could operate with impunity. The control must also offer all of the citizens of the city safety; if it does not, they could be swayed by recruiters to join a terrorist cause. While most of Afghanistan is relatively safe and under control, Kandahar sits as a powder keg, waiting to explode and end all of the United States’ progress in eliminating the Taliban.
CIA – The World Factbook – Afghanistan
A Dangerous Job in Kandahar – Afghanistan Crossroads
Two Westerners Under Taliban Rule in Kandahar