World a more dangerous place after West's withdrawal from Afghanistan, senior military analyst claims
One year on from the West's sudden withdrawal from Afghanistan, the world is "much less safe" and authoritarian leaders have been "emboldened", according to a senior military analyst
Colonel Richard Kemp said US President Joe Biden's decision to pull out of Afghanistan severely dented America's standing in the world and likely factored into Vladimir Putin's decision to invade Ukraine.
12 months on from the chaotic scenes that followed a frantic, badly managed withdrawal, Afghanistan has all but disappeared from the nightly news bulletins.
But right across that central-Asian nation, people are still living with the consequences of a decision made a world away in Washington.
In population centres across the country, queues at the UN's World Food Programme feeding stations are constant.
Afghans, who had just a year earlier held down respectable jobs, are now forced to beg for handouts.
At a distribution station in central Kabul, local resident Sara said she was now penniless.
She said: “My husband was martyred the day the Taliban came to power a year ago.
“We had some savings from his service to the Afghan military over the last 15 years. Now, all that is finished."
Before the US and its allies pulled out, 75 percent of Afghanistan’s GDP came from international aid.
Most of the funding was turned off overnight and the dire economic situation was compounded by crippling sanctions against the new government in Kabul.
Muhammad Sulaiman Bin Shah, former Afghan Deputy Industry and Commerce Minister, said: “The industries cannot import raw materials easily now, simply because they are not able to transfer funds abroad. I think that has also hit the labour market quite significantly.
"Our income levels deteriorated significantly. The sanctions have not affected the current authorities. They are simply affecting the common people indirectly."
The United Nations has described the situation in Afghanistan as the world's largest humanitarian disaster, with over half the population facing the threat of starvation.
It is the outcome many had feared and warned would follow the decision by President Biden to exit Afghanistan, two decades after coalition forces first entered the country.
The Taliban took full advantage - and as they rolled into the capital, panicked Afghans, many of whom had worked for the government and coalition forces, scrambled to get out.
At Kabul airport, US, British and other troops tried their best to manage the withdrawal, but increasingly desperate locals regularly broke through the airport's perimeter.
In horrifying scenes, some jumped onto one departing US aircraft, only to plunge to their deaths as it gathered speed and took off.
Just days before the end of the pull out, in the huge sewage canal alongside the airport, an ISIS suicide bomber targeted the thousands of people queuing there.
13 members of the US military were among the more than 180 killed.Right across the political spectrum, in the US and beyond, President Biden's handling of the Afghan withdrawal has been widely criticised and branded a low point in America's standing in the world.
Colonel Kemp said: "We’re much less safe with the Taliban in control than we were before. We can see already that al-Qaeda and the Taliban are still very much embedded with each other.
“On top of that, we’ve got the message that our withdrawal sent to the world, which I believe helped encourage President Putin to invade Ukraine.
“I think the reduction in US international credibility and reliability has made the world much, much less safe.”
In the year since the pull out, the UK has managed to get more than 20,000 Afghans safely out of the country and over to Britain.
But many more remain in Afghanistan, trapped in country and unable to leave.
Taliban promises that they have changed, that women could continue to work and girls would get a full education, have fallen way short.
There are growing concerns about the potential security threat to the West from the many extremist groups still present in Afghanistan.
Norwegian documentary maker Paul Refsdal, believes the Taliban are serious about confronting and eradicating ISIS.
The film maker has made multiple trips to Afghanistan and spent some considerable time documenting the Taliban.
He told GB News: “You have to remember that the Taliban have been fighting ISIS since 2015, before they took over last year, and that fight has been very brutal.
"So, that’s the thing they continue to do and they’re not doing this to satisfy Western audiences. They are doing this because they want the ISIS eliminated in Afghanistan."
However, last month's US drone strike, which targeted and killed the al-Qaeda leader in Afghanistan, highlights the continued security concerns here.
Ayman Al Zawahiri had been living in a property in Kabul, reportedly owned by a top aide to a Taliban government official.
The Taliban have taken to the streets across Afghanistan in recent days to celebrate the first anniversary of the Western withdrawal.
But for the vast majority of Afghanistan's citizens and the wider World there's little to celebrate.
The extremist threat continues to grow, the humanitarian crisis is worsening, and the freedoms the country's new leaders said citizens would enjoy, looks like being another false promise to the Afghan people.