Recently, President Joe Biden made a vigorous defense of his decision to hastily withdraw US troops from Afghanistan. He would go on to add that the US has nothing to do more in Afghanistan and Afghans should now defend their country.
I am an Afghan, who grew up in war. I have seen violence that may be difficult for you to imagine. I was there when the Taliban captured Kabul in 1996, and I survived their rule — and survive is the right word for that experience. I am not sure my country could survive the same again.
My country has endured too much in the past four decades. We have been the battlefield of superpowers, starting when the USSR invaded in 1979 and the United States armed the mujahedin to fight for them, until 1992 when the Mujahideen then turned on each other, in the absence of a common enemy. The United States took its leave at that time, Afghanistan no longer useful for them. And into this chaos swept the Taliban, and then eventually, Al Qaeda. This war that has gone on nearly half a century claimed over 1.7 million lives and left over 2 million injured.
The time has come for the narrative that this is Afghanistan’s war to end. One must look beneath the fighting in Afghanistan, to see the machinery behind it. The Taliban were birthed of the civil war in the 1990s and that civil war was birthed from Afghanistan being the Cold War proxy playground. The Government of the United States bears not all responsibility for this, but it does bear a very significant share of the moral responsibility of the war in Afghanistan, as Hillary Clinton acknowledged in 2009 during her remarks in congressional hearings on the Obama administration’s foreign policy.
And despite the emerging evidence that questions the wisdom of arming the mujahedin, the United States has continued indirect support to elements that undermine peace in Afghanistan through its ongoing financial assistance to the Government of Pakistan which has played a role in harbouring and resourcing the Taliban from within their territory, as part of that country’s “strategic depth” policy. While the violence plays out on Afghan soil, the terrorists who wage it are recruited, trained and equipped outside of Afghanistan borders. The flow of money into Pakistan that has bolstered a government hostile to the elected Afghan Government and sympathetic to the Taliban is not a US investment that has benefitted Afghans.
After nearly 20 years of their presence in Afghanistan, the United States unilaterally decided to sign a peace deal with a terrorist organization that has taken the lives of tens of thousands of my countrymen and women, has committed war crimes, consistently worked to destroy the country’s developing infrastructure, communications capacity, education system, free media, and democratic institutions. The United States Government made promises to the Taliban on behalf of the Afghan Government without their permission, and without consulting Afghans themselves. The “peace” the US has brought us is worse than the war they brought us. Whatever it is the US thinks it’s brokering in Afghanistan through Zalmay Khalilzad, it is not peace.
Through the “peace” deal and US deference to the Taliban at the expense of the Afghan Government, the Taliban have gained much desired legitimacy and international recognition. This gave them an infusion of confidence, and their enhanced capacity for violence and resulting territorial gains in recent weeks surprised even the Taliban themselves.
What is not surprising is the atrocities that have accompanied Taliban takeovers of districts. Well documented evidence shows an undeniable pattern of human rights abuses, from the brutal execution of unarmed surrendering Afghan soldiers to whipping women for being out of their houses alone, from burning down girls’ schools to bombing public infrastructure. Their rules banning girls’ education and employment are unchanged from when they ruled in the 1990s. Their demand for families to hand over girls and women for their fighters to “marry” has made families flee areas under Taliban control. Thousands have been killed, and thousands more displaced, now living on the streets after fleeing Taliban fighting that accelerated alongside the expedited US timeline for withdrawal. My former colleague, a young woman who lost her father to war and is now her family’s breadwinner, was forbidden from going to the pharmacy to buy medicine for her ill mother in a district controlled by the Taliban in Takhar province. There, each family — many of whom are poverty stricken, struggling to feed themselves — has been asked to rotate buying and cooking food for large groups of Taliban. If they disobey, they are brutally punished.
The Taliban haven’t changed and they will never change. This includes preserving their ties with Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups despite having pledged to stop cooperation with these groups. Currently more than 20 terrorist groups are fighting in Afghanistan from Middle Eastern and South Asian countries, with clear evidence pointing to cooperation between Taliban and these terrorist groups. In 2020, Afghanistan ranked first on the global terrorism index with a score of 9.59 points, making it the country most affected by terrorism on Earth. The war in Afghanistan is not a civil war; it is a war, rather, of terrorism that is almost guaranteed to spill beyond the region. It thus demands a shared responsibility to counter.
The world’s most powerful country made a deal with the devil. While the consequences of this may not soon wash up on US shores — though it will, eventually, if history is any guide — and it is Afghans who will pay the blood-soaked price, one immediate cost to the US is clear: President Joe Biden sold away all remaining remnants of the moral authority of the United States when they abandoned the people of Afghanistan to the wolves who will eat us alive as the world watches — the Taliban
See original post at Murwarid Ziayee