The Fall of Kabul Government or Peace with the Taliban; What is the Ultimate US Aim?
The Fall of Kabul Government or Peace with the Taliban; What is the Ultimate US Aim?
The evacuation of the US-led coalition from Afghanistan is taking place with such speed as if the force had initially been sent to an unknown destination by mistake.
The September 2001 battle with Afghanistan-based Al-Qaeda fighters following attacks on the World Trade Center in New York lead to the downfall of Taliban’s fanatical government in Kabul.
The United Stated was the hero of this war; freedom from the grips of the Taliban and the promise of the establishment of democracy and equality between men and women were reasons for which tens of thousands of American soldiers were dispatched to this country.
Hopeful Americans paid billions of dollars in taxes to embed principles of democracy in Afghanistan, to pull it out of poverty and backwardness and to help its reconstruction. Millions of suffering girls and women who had been imprisoned at their homes found the opportunity to study, find jobs and become members of commissions for the new Constitution, Loya Jirge (traditional grand assembly) and the country’s parliament.
Masoudeh Jalal was the first woman who competed in presidential elections with Hamid Karzai, the head of Afghanistan’s transitional government.
I happened to be in Afghanistan during the first days after the fall of the Taliban, and witnessed first-hand its impact on the country’s most important cities from north to south – from Kandahar and Jalalabad to Takhar and Mazar- i- Sharif cities freed from the grip of the Taliban.
I had been in touch with Mujahedin commanders who had key roles in the fight against terrorism and the Taliban, and witnessed mutual strategic cooperation in communication between American and Afghan sides.
Afghans have paid a hefty price for the freedom and security they strived for over the past 20 years. Hundreds of thousands of military and civilian citizens in military and unmilitary zones have given their lives fighting against the Taliban in unequal fights, camisados, explosions and suicide attacks.
More than 2,000 US soldiers have lost their lives in Afghanistan (2,372 soldiers and civilians). Over the past 20 years thousands of foreign soldiers under the coalition banner have been killed, too, but my focus is on US forces that have lost more than 3,000 soldiers in Afghanistan.
These were soldiers whose mothers sent them with pride to war against terrorism and ignorance. I had also talked to mothers of these victims and American aid workers who had lost their lives in Afghanistan; women who are proud of American values and consider their children not as victims but heroes in defense of values and principles of democracy they are committed to.
…And that is not to mention those the war has left disabled or with mental scars. I am facing the question as where US forces evacuation in Afghanistan means a change in strategic policy in the region, what is their answer to the families of American victims and their innocent blood shed for the US army? Those young men and women who were sent to Afghanistan to defend democratic values and principles of democracy but only their coffins were returned home?
The United Stated has a strategic agreement with the elected Afghan government and is committed to defending and supporting the governance and the people of Afghanistan. What will to become to this strategic agreement signed with Karzai on July 4, 2012 during Obama’s presidency and Hilary Clinton auspices.
Today, Asharf Qani’s government is under increasing pressure to deliver its commitment to the nation, fulfill its duties on the one hand, and meet US government’s demands, on the other.
Before I go into the details of that demand, let me refer to what is widely known and extensively covered practice of bribery and corruption within Afghanistan’s government.
It is widely reported that president Karzai’s administration – who has been twice elected as the leader of Afghanistan - was corrupt, and the current government has been unable to fight corruption in government departments. The billions of dollars that left American tax payers’ pockets to build the country’s infrastructure and reorganize security forces and the army were wasted or better said embezzled.
While the Taliban government did not receive dollars in the form of aid, their attempts to cultivate opium poppy and their network of heroin smugglers turned Afghanistan into the most major center of production and illegal procurement of narcotics in the world.
Today, the situation is neither better than the past nor the US has come to the end of its tether. What we hear about the armed Taliban sailing through the country now is the outcome of the peace agreement signed between US government envoy Zalmay Khalizad and the Taliban in Qatar. These are the same Taliban members who had been released at the US request from high security prisons.
Throughout his years of frequenting between Kabul and Doha, Khalilzad prepared the grounds for the release of dangerous Taliban members from prison in the pretext for peace. These are those who are on the forefront of attack against cities and who are organizing confrontation with the central government.
Moreover, during the past 20 years, plans to eradicate Mujahedin groups who were at the forefront of fighting the Taliban and terrorism were completed. They were marginalized as warmongers and a considerable number of effective individuals along with and those with experience of war against the Taliban assassinated in recent years.
Today, there are hardly a handful of figures in the key Coalition of the North left. Some are corrupted to the core by American taxpayer’s dollars thus have no incentive to fight the Taliban, and some have become too old to continue.
Besides, there are no arms to combat the Taliban as people have left the task to the Police and the national army. At best of times, soldiers of the National Army could hardly feed their families with their meager wages and now it has been months since they had been paid last. For whom and for what ideal should they sacrifice their lives when they see that their strategic partner secretly vacates their base in the dead of the night and gone?
What are the US reasons for such hurried policy that is equally unbelievable for foreign observers as for the people of Afghanistan?
I believe this is part of Mr. Zalmay Khalilzad’s plan in imposing the peace agreement with the Taliban and implement promises the US gave them in Qatar.
The Afghan government has in the past months refused to accept Khalilzad’s proposed peace plan and negotiate with the Taliban. Ashraf Qani did not accept the establishment of a transitional government and insisted that the solution to reaching peace with the Taliban lies in an early general election.
Today, the advancement of the Taliban and United States refusal to support the army or prevent cities and towns to fall under their control is aimed at putting the central government under enormous pressure to the point of falling.
Ultimately, the US envoy’s plan in Afghanistan is to push the government to either resign or succumb to negotiating with the Taliban and accepting their request for power-sharing.
We referred to shortcomings, to bribery and corruption and security and economic problems left unresolved, but it should be noted that over the past 20 years, schools have been built and government departments established. Afghanistan has a Constitution and political, security and government offices.
The threshold of government tolerance should not be tested to the point of the annihilation of these achievements and the fall of the country into national insecurity and wars of attrition.
Like its rugged land, Afghanistan holds within its borders different tribes and cultures neither of which accepts the superiority of the other. Memories of the massacre of smaller religious tribes have not been forgotten; memories of women being whipped and beheaded in Kabul stadium, of the destruction of the country’s greatest cultural and historical heritage: Buddha’s statues in Bamian.
Perhaps it would be best if the US would concentrate on security, intelligence and anti-terrorism rather than sending hundreds of thousands of soldiers to get involved in direct combat; to concentrate on building up culture and development of ideas and deliberation in Pashtun areas at the frontier with Pakistan where people are more prone to extremism and teachings of backward religious seminaries.
Today, Iran, Russia and China’s connections with the Taliban are not out of their love for them but out of enmity to their shared enemy.
The US aim is not only to put maximum pressure on the Kabul government but by leaving the Taliban a free hand to cause insecurity at Iran, Russia and China’s borders, thus forcing them to appreciate America’s presence in the region. Now with the rise of terrorist groups at their borders, these countries have to foot the bill for the security the US provided them for free.
The following days are going to be decisive but it is unlikely that even with the fall of the central government or power-sharing with the Taliban, the confrontations would easily cease. Equally, assuming power by the Taliban will not create peace and security in Afghanistan.