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Former Central Bank Governor Ajmal Ahmady discusses Afghanistan's perilous future

Ian Bremmer speaks to exiled Afghan Central Bank Governor Ajmal Ahmady on his own harrowing escape and the perils that await the very much aid-dependent country's economy now under Taliban control.

A US veteran on the “betrayal” of leaving Afghans behind

Former US Army Captain Matt Zeller owes his life to an Afghan interpreter and resents what he sees as the Biden administration's decision to let the Taliban dictate the terms of the withdrawal. He asks Americans to think about all the Afghans who got left behind despite risking their own lives to help US forces. "Put yourself in their shoes," urges Zeller, who has a sobering message for America after leaving Afghanistan: "We're now going to carry a moral injury that will never abate. A scar that will never disappear." Watch his visceral testimonial on this episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer.

Watch the episode: Afghanistan, 2021: Afghan & US military perspectives as the last soldier leaves

Does Biden’s deadline really mean anything?

Well, deadlines are deadlines. That, for now, seems to be the Biden administration's position on Afghanistan. On Tuesday, the White House announced it would not extend the current August 31 deadline for the full withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan.

The decision flies in the face of efforts by US lawmakers from both parties and foreign allies, who have pressed the White House to extend the deadline. Seeing the chaos in Kabul airport and the Biden administration's botched handling of the withdrawal so far, they want more time to get Americans and other Western nationals out of the country, as well as the thousands of Afghans who supported the NATO mission or the former government and now face reprisals from the Taliban.

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The Graphic Truth: Who hosts the most Afghan refugees?

Afghanistan has been mired in conflict — spanning the Soviet invasion, civil war, and the US occupation — since the late 1970s, prompting a decades-long refugee crisis. In 2020, after the Trump administration announced the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and inked a subsequent deal with the Taliban, Afghans began leaving the country in droves, fearing exactly what we are seeing today: a Taliban takeover. Most have gone to neighboring Pakistan, as well as Iran. We take a look at which countries hosted the most Afghan refugees as of December 2020, and how that compares to their broader refugee populations.

No exit from Afghanistan

While much of the world watches the tragic and deadly chaos around Kabul's airport, a potentially much bigger migration crisis has already begun, and will only get worse in the coming weeks and months: huge numbers of Afghans desperately trying to flee the country as refugees or asylum-seekers.

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Europe in "shock & disbelief" over US withdrawal from Afghanistan

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Europe:

What has been the European reaction to what's happening in Afghanistan?

Well, I think shock and disbelief is the appropriate expression for it. Shock and disbelief over the Americans just cutting out running, although you might argue that we should have seen it coming. And then, of course, a lot of long-term questions that will play out over time. Can the United States be relied upon, right or wrong? That question is going to linger for quite some time.

Are the EU nations prepared to accept Afghan refugees?

Well, the priority at the moment must of course be those that have worked for our forces, our development efforts, our embassies, and to get them out. As otherwise, Europe already has a substantial number, as a matter-of-fact Afghans are the number one nation when it comes to regular migration. Last year our figures for 2020 was 34,000 coming in. There are nearly 150,000 of them in Germany, there are 30,000 in Sweden. This is to compare with single digit thousand numbers in the US. So there will be an enormous effort to try to help displaced refugees in the region, and then the somewhat more managed global handling of the refugee issue will be called for.

Would you recognize the Taliban?

The Taliban have returned to power in Afghanistan after two decades. Over the next few weeks and months, a host of foreign nations with a stake in the country's future will have to make a very tough choice: grant legitimacy to a regime that has committed atrocities against its own people, or risk the potential fallout of turning Afghanistan into the isolated, drug-running state sponsor of terror it was prior to US occupation. For some, the decision will depend on how the Taliban behave, while others seem to have already made up their mind.

Here are a few arguments on both sides of the international recognition debate.

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Biden's speech on Afghanistan ignores serious failures; Afghan refugee crisis

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on President Biden's Afghanistan speech, the Afghan refugee crisis that will follow the Taliban takeover, and booster shots in the US.

What did you think of President Biden's speech on the Afghan withdrawal?

Two things. One, I thought he made a very compelling case for why the United States needed to leave when we did. The reduction in US troops that already happened under Trump, the strengthening of the Taliban, the difficulty of any expansion, I get all of that, but it was, listening to it as if the last 72 hours hadn't happened. He said that, "this is on me, the buck stops with me," but didn't talk really about any of the serious failures and how they could have occurred on the ground in Afghanistan. And there's a lot to answer for there. So I certainly don't give high marks to the speech, if I'm being honest with you. I'm doing my best.

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