Afghanistan in 2021 under the Taliban regime
The scenes of the US Air Force, leaving Kabul with thousands of Afghan citizens, running next to it, in an attempt to escape Kabul, after Taliban came to power, is so powerful, that this day will remain a benchmark in the history of Afghanistan.
After 20 years of US military presence in Kabul, the USA, leaves the country, while the Taliban take over, leaving also behind huge questions about what went wrong, and of course about the future. Questions that will determine not only the position of the United States in the international arena, but also questions that the American citizens will need to be answered, as a means to justify their policies and their sacrificies all these years. Except for Americans, Europe will have to come up with a fresh narrative, that will legitimize its presence in the international community, and that will validate their policies from now on.
When the US left Iraq in 2011, and the war they were mingled there since 2003, they were accused that they created much space for the Islamic regime to come to power. In 2014, the Islamic forces gained power and it was only later in 2016 and more specific one day after Syria took over Palmyra city, which was also occupied by the Islamic State, that the Iraqi army, together with Peshmerga Kurds from the semi-autonomous Iraqi State and some US military help, managed to win power again and make the Islamic forces leave control of the country to them.
So an obvious question is, why this didn't happen in Afghanistan? Or if there is any potential to happen in the near future...? For 20 years, and more than 80 billion dollars spent on reorganizing Afghan military forces, it becomes known that most of this money, got lost into a vicious circle of corruption, one that favoritized commanders who kept their soldiers' salaries for themselves, while the soldiers continued their training normally. After the gap that the US left by leaving Afghanistan, it is no surprise that the Afghan military forces that depended on the US support almost totally, fell apart, leaving ground to the Taliban, who after so many years of US presence and of military know-how, they became experts, ready to win power and impose their rule.
Biden now puts the blame on his predecessor, who made this terrible agreement with the Taliban last year, and which ofcourse was terrible and it empowered them, but is this enough? Is it enough when some months earlier he denied the case of the Taliban coming to power? Will this legitimize him in the eyes of his voters? And most important, is the narrative that "the war for terrorism in Afghanistan finished years ago and they have no reason for presence there" enough for a country that wants to come accross as a democratic one, while they leave behind Afghanistan and the people there at the mercy of the most brutal islamic option that ever existed?
Women in Afghanistan ask for help, while Europe and the US reassess their policies, obviously not in a position to legitimize those policies, and even more to find a solution to this problem that they calculated so wrong, leaving them also exposed in regard to the democratic narrative they will have to come up with...
Ashraf Ghani, the official Afghan President of the country who took power first in 2014, exactly the year that the Islamic State took over in Iraq, a man who lived many years in the US and got educated also there, left the country without saying anything to his people, thus appearing also, as part of a game that never prioritized the people of Afghanistan, despite his TedeX talks, that showed him to really be worried and considering about the transformation of his country. His chance to prove that he was more than a US choice, vanished when few days ago, he run away of his country, in order to save himself and vanished with millions of dollars that he put in a bag.
Obviously the country must have already been divided into influence zones, and it remains to be seen which are these zones, and how this balance will transform the region in the near future, and also how the balance between superpowers will be shaped. Turkey, seems that will grab the chance, to use the huge migration flow that will soon appear from Afghanistan, as a new leverage for diplomatic pressure, while the rest of the non-developed countries of the European Union, such as Greece, might have to face a new migration wave, as after the crisis and the pandemic, and especially after the division that the quarantine issued to peoples' hearts, and the fact that there isn't and there never was even in the past, an organized European plan for handling migration, this can prove to be a new cause for one more clash in the Greek society, and a new cause for arousing racism, in a country like Greece, that didn't have the time yet, to discover where it stands in all this, and recover by its wounds...
Till then, the most crucial issue, is only one: Women in Afghanistan who had the misfortune to be born in a country ravaged by war and extremism. Praying for them is an irony. And irony is all what we ALL offer to them right now!!!
written by Themis Panagiotopoulou, PhD in Political Science