In the past few months, Afghanistan has become an attractive arena for the spread of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.
Harleen Gambhir is a Non-Resident Counterterrorism Fellow at the Institute for the Study of War. She focuses on the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham’s global strategy and operations, as well as on the organization's propaganda and digital presence.
On Saturday, June 14, Afghanistan held its second round, run-off presidential election since no presidential candidate was able to secure at least 50 percent of the votes in the first-round election on April 5. In that first contest, the two front-runners, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and Dr. Ashraf Ghani, won 45 percent and 31.56 percent of the vote, respectively.
John D. Lawrence is the Director of External Relations at ISW.
He has more than 25 years of experience in Washington, DC working on government relations and public affairs. Most recently he directed Congressional affairs at the International Foundation for Electoral Systems and prior to that was the acting head of outreach at National Defense University's Near East South Asia Center.
The White House is dropping strong hints that the number of American troops in Afghanistan after 2014 may fall below 10,000, possibly even below 5,000. Unnamed White House officials suggested to the press that lower levels of U.S. support to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) will be sufficient to contain future Taliban threats.
If America's experience in Iraq offers any single, unambiguous lesson, it is the folly of just walking away. The United States must not repeat this mistake in Afghanistan. Isolation and disengagement have severely damaged American credibility and security, as can be seen most dramatically in Ukraine today.