President Obama is expected to announce at his State of the Union address tonight that 34,000 US troops — half the number currently stationed there — will return from Afghanistan next year. The war in Afghanistan has now continued for over ten years, since US forces entered the country after September 11th. The country, however, is still far from stable, and as Alex Strick van Linschoten, co-author of An Enemy We Created: The Myth of the Taliban-Al Qaeda Merger in Afghanistan, explains, US involvement has become a crutch for a country still trying to find order. “It is a reality that the only thing holding the country together at the moment is essentially the presence of the foreigners, yet at the same time it’s one of the reasons for the continuing instabilities,” Strick van Linschoten says.
Alex Strick van Linschoten has lived in Afghanistan since 2006. With Felix Kuehn, he is the co-author of An Enemy We Created: The Myth of the Taliban-Al Qaeda Merger in Afghanistan, co-editor of My Life with the Taliban, and The Poetry of the Taliban. He is currently working on a PhD at the War Studies Department of King’s College London. Follow him on Twitter @strickvl.