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California Community Reacts To Planned U.S. Troop Exit From Afghanistan


People absorbing news of the planned U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan include Afghan Americans. KQED's Rachael Myrow reports.

RACHAEL MYROW, BYLINE: The U.S. has been fighting a war in Afghanistan for nearly 20 years, but it's been involved for much longer, which is to say since Mizgon Zahir Darby of the East Bay was a little girl.

MIZGON ZAHIR DARBY: Both my mother and father left Afghanistan to escape the war, the Soviet invasion that had occurred.

MYROW: Darby founded a magazine for Afghan American youth in 2001, when she was just 18 years old.

DARBY: My father came here as an immigrant, and my mother came here as a refugee.

MYROW: Today, Darby is closely connected with efforts to support Afghan-focused mental health and education in the Bay Area.

DARBY: There's a lot of tension with a drawdown that is occurring in the Afghan community.

MYROW: Darby worries Afghanistan is likely to return to Taliban rule at great cost to the civilian population. President Biden has vowed to rebuild federal refugee programs gutted by the Trump administration. But Darby says it's not enough to bring in a few thousand more refugees while the situation in Central Asia deteriorates.

DARBY: A lot of us want to create that stability back home so that they can feel comfortable where they are.

FARID YOUNOS: Leaving the country without any positive consequences for Afghanistan, it is very irresponsible from U.S. side or international community.

MYROW: Farid Younos emigrated from Afghanistan 41 years ago. He's a retired professor of cultural anthropology. Biden's announcement strikes many as just the latest indication that Americans are tired of an endless war. Younos anticipates the power vacuum created by the U.S. pullout will benefit the Taliban and its allies in Pakistan.

YOUNOS: Afghanistan will go into chaos if the Taliban take over. And more people will die and a lot of other atrocities will be committed.

MYROW: Younos wants to see some form of international peacekeeping maintained in Afghanistan. Otherwise, he predicts, thousands of refugees will flood from the country, desperate to save themselves.

For NPR News, I'm Rachael Myrow in San Francisco. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Rachael Myrow