Afghanistan’s Geography, 20 Years After the U.S. Invasion

MIN READMay 18, 2021 | 21:24 GMT

An Afghan soldier stands guard at a checkpoint outside a U.S. military base in Bagram, located roughly 50 kilometers north of Kabul, on April 29, 2021.

(WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images)

Geography and history have left Afghanistan a fractured landscape, the contours of which are re-emerging as the United States withdraws from its 20-year engagement. Landlocked in Central Asia, Afghanistan has a history of being a geographically fragmented nation with an equally fragmented society, with concentrations of ethnic, sectarian and clan affiliations that have long shaped the Afghan context. After the U.S.-backed invasion in 2001, the country’s otherwise warring populace was temporarily brought together through a newly established Afghan government backed by the U.S.-led coalition. However, Washington’s latest decision to end its 20-year occupation threatens to tear the delicate threads preventing the country from once again descending into civil war....

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