This article was originally published by Politico Magazine on August 2, 2022. You can find the full article here.
The successful strike on Sunday against Ayman al-Zawahri —a man with no shortage of American blood on his hands — is a celebratory moment for President Joe Biden’s administration. For watchers of Afghanistan, it is also illuminating, like a flashbulb on the darkness that has enveloped Afghanistan since the American pullout a year ago.
According to initial reports, the Central Intelligence Agency used a drone to launch two Hellfire missiles at Zawahri after spotting him on the balcony of the Kabul safe house in which he was staying with his family. Even with the limited information now available, this assassination can tell us a great deal about the current security situation in the country, the state of U.S. capabilities to affect that situation and the future of Afghanistan and its people.
It also raises a host of questions that are yet to be answered.
Security is a growing worry
Since the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban’s nearly immediate takeover last August, the trend in security for the average Afghan has improved. Civilian casualties, for example, have declined as a result of the end of the long civil war waged by the Taliban against the U.S.-supported government.