Summary of Why Afghanistan Fell

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Why Afghanistan Fell summary

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Over the summer of 2021, Afghanistan’s government collapsed with greater speed and ferocity than many had foreseen. Yet the regime’s downfall was long in the making, writes Ajmal Ahmady, a senior official in the country’s last government before the Taliban takeover. He faults rampant corruption, geopolitical interests, and national leaders’ inability to recognize and ally with local powers. His insider’s take on the situation offers an important postmortem on America’s longest war.

About the Author

A senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, Ajmal Ahmady served as Afghanistan’s governor of the central bank from June 2020 through mid-August 2021.


The Afghan government suffered from a toxic political environment.

Afghanistan’s political circumstances did not augur well for lasting democracy. Internal squabbling, fraud and inexperience plagued the country. Then, in February 2020, America went back on its bilateral security agreement with Afghanistan and inked the Doha peace treaty with the Taliban. The accord, which sidelined the Afghan government in negotiations, provided for the safe withdrawal of all US personnel in exchange for the release of 5,000 prisoners who were part of the Taliban.

Rural areas fell rapidly under Taliban rule throughout 2020, as President Ashraf Ghani’s ministers fled the...

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