“When U.S. forces leave Afghanistan, the Taliban will implement our law on the Afghan government, either by dialogue or by force,” said Azizi, a young Taliban fighter, who traveled from his home just outside the capital to give an interview. He gazed out of a third-floor apartment overlooking a middle-class neighborhood in Kabul bustling with students and modern coffee shops. “We will follow the same Shariah system in Kabul as we do in the provinces.”…

Many of America’s allies in Afghanistan, who bet on a durable U.S. presence to nudge the country toward social progress and some prosperity, fear a rushed exit.

“If they were here to fight the Taliban, then they should not give [Afghanistan] back to the Taliban,” said Fahim Hashimy, an entrepreneur who built a conglomerate providing logistics to American bases and later established a television channel. “The youth that have learned to live a new way of life. The women who are used to a new standard of life, they can’t just be handed over to someone else.”…

“People are increasingly concerned about the return of the Taliban and they’re looking for ways to arm themselves to protect themselves,” Afghanistan’s top security official, national security adviser Hamdullah Mohib, said in an interview. The Taliban “believe that without U.S. support they will overrun all our provinces and the government in a month.”