PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – Just weeks before the U.S. planned to completely withdraw combat troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban has gained power.

After nearly 20 years of United States military presence in Afghanistan, the Taliban has captured the capital city, Kabul.

“It was expected it could take months, that was the prediction, but it appeared to take days,” said Dr. Ali Riaz, Illinois State University professor of South Asian politics.

With the Taliban back in control, Riaz says Afghans have justified fears of the group’s style of governance.

“Marginalize the minorities, prosecute the opponents,” Riaz said about the Taliban.

For local veterans like Karl Newman, who was in Afghanistan in 2008, he says the situation is heartbreaking.

“So many people have spent all their lives there, lost their lives there, were injured there for the better of the Afghan people,” Newman said.

But he says without stronger resistance from the Afghan military that was helped trained by the U.S., the Taliban’s resurgence was unfortunately inevitable.

“10 years ago if we would’ve left, the same thing would’ve happened, and also if we left 10 years from now, the same thing would’ve happened. The Afghan army has to fight for their own country, and their own people,” Newman said.

Riaz shared similar thoughts about the Afghan government’s ability to stand on its own.

“Rampant corruption, lack of inclusivity, the serious disconnect between government and the people in Afghanistan,” Riaz said.

Riaz also says the Taliban has said things will be different under their latest resurgence, but what that means is yet to be seen.

“Whether that means different in terms of changing or their tune—we’ll have to see. We’ll have to wait,” he said.

“For two decades, American troops have worked alongside Afghan allies to defeat threats to our national security and protect our shared values. We must never lose sight of their immense sacrifices and the courageous American soldiers who have served our nation, put their lives on the line and worked to create opportunity for the people of Afghanistan – especially women and girls.

But an endless American military presence risking thousands of additional American troops was not sustainable. As our military mission comes to an end, we must do everything in our power to uphold our promises to our allies and protect Americans in Afghanistan, Afghan interpreters and partners to our troops and the journalists who bravely continue to deliver the news, and that’s why I voted for overwhelmingly bipartisan legislation to expedite the visa process and cut through red tape to quickly relocate our allies”

– Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, 17th District- (D)

“The evacuation of the United States Embassy in Kabul and the fall of the Afghan government into the hands of the Taliban is deeply disappointing but predictable given the Biden Administration’s approach.

“For months, the White House and President Biden have ignored the warnings about the situation in Afghanistan by many in Congress and the defense communities. Despite the warnings, the Administration pushed ahead with an ill-advised, poorly planned, and needlessly rapid complete drawdown of America’s presence in Afghanistan in an attempt to seek a political victory before the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. 

– Congressman Darin LaHood, 18th District-(R)