The Taliban extremist forces are back in power in Afghanistan. Following the gradual withdrawal of the American occupation forces the religious ‘terrorist’ government took effective control of the entire Afghan territory, one village, town or city after another, in a record speed encountering little or no resistance as they marched to the capital city, Kabul. Kabul fell to the shocking surprise of the Western powers (especially the US) who had predicted otherwise. No one saw it coming too soon.
Last Monday there was pandemonium at the Kabul international airport as despondent terrified Afghans trooped there in a desperate effort to flee the country. Western powers (America, France, Germany, Britain etc) hurriedly deployed Special Forces on the ground to help evacuate thousands of their nationals and their Afghan local collaborators (or traitors if you like).
The Americans, sequel to the 2001 World Trade Centre terrorist attack in New York City (perpetrated by the Al-Queda obscurantist force) had invaded Afghanistan chasing away the Taliban from power. The infamous 9/11 horror in the States led to global repercussions, one of which happened to be the Afghan invasion. Osama Bin-Laden and Saddam Hussein are no longer with us in flesh and blood. They paid the supreme price for aiding and abetting global terrorism.
For the past twenty years thousands of American soldiers had died maintaining the military engagement in the Asian country; billions of Dollars had been spent to maintain stability and civilised order. Sophisticated arms and ammunition were supplied and tens of thousands of local troops equipped and trained to be able to stabilize the country in the event of American inevitable departure.
A couple of Presidents had succeeded themselves at the White House but none was able to crack the Afghan nut with manifest satisfaction. Former President Donald Trump took the bull by the horn by negotiating with the Taliban. He initiated the American withdrawal plans citing cost and fatigue. Though we all knew all along that Trump, true to type, was playing populist politics with the Afghan dilemma.
Now with Trump electorally trumped and deposed President Joe Biden had sought to provide the final solution to the Afghan military adventure. Declaring that the major objective for which Uncle Sam intervened mightily had been attained Biden concluded that by the end of this month all American soldiers would be home.
While it is true that for the past two decades America succeeded in conquering the Afghan nation imposing her democratic will the hearts and minds of all Afghans were not won over. Last Sunday chaos and anarchy was unleashed on the capital city as the determined Taliban combattants enterred the city seizing the presidential palace.
Online and on international TV networks images of panic and confusion were beamed around the world. As American military jets and special forces struggled amid surging crowd at the airport to impose order for the evacuation to take place as planned Afghan folks sought to leave by all means possible and impossible. Some of them were seen falling off military planes as they headed for the sky!
The deposed President, Ashraf Ghani, reportedly fled Kabul with his family and trusted aides. He allegedly left the presidential palace with flashy cars and millions of Dollars in cash! Justifying his swift abandonment of duty for exile he had said he decided to leave in order to avoid bloodshed. But Ghani had no choice for no one was ready to fight or defend him or the country at the crucial moment of the Taliban invasion.
Now, the ultimate questions: did America suffer another humiliating military defeat in Afghanistan like in Somalia and Vietnam? Has freedom been dealt a mortal blow? What happens next? What has changed since and what might change now? Whither Afghanistan?
The Afghan Taliban tragedy has demonstrated the limit of military might, diplomacy and charity. Afghans, in their majority, appear to prefer the Taliban to the invading foreigners. The American largesse, military might and diplomacy was not enough to win over the minds and hearts of the local population hence the crushing defeat.
The relative ease with which the Taliban forces overran towns and cities with little or no resistance must have shocked observers suffering from naivety. Soldiers and police forces simply surrendered to the Taliban as they marched towards Kabul! The clear message was sent to the invading forces that democracy made in America could not work in Afghanistan.
The Supreme leader of the Taliban and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Hibatullah Akhundzada, has ordered the mass release of prisoners across the country while assuring concerned Western nations that girls would not be banned from seeking education. Nice moves but fears and suspicion are still mounting over the Taliban sharia-based methods and tactics. Besides, their fraternity with terrorist organizations and rogue elements remains a cause for concern.
The American Afghan fiasco demonstrated something sinister: how an organized Islamic group could be patient and resilient in the face of the military armada of a superpower for many years. Now, the Taliban, no matter the negative image and reputation globally, are reaping the fruit of resistance and perseverance!
Africa may be far away from Afghanistan but the chaos of the past few days in Kabul had reminded us of Libya after the killing of Colonel Muammar Ghaddafi. Till now Tripoli and Benghazi remain cities ruled by arms and terror! Some sophisticated armoury looted from the Libyan arms depots had found their way into some vulnerable African countries, including Nigeria, making terrorism as exemplified by Boko Haram to flourish.
Like Libya the Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan may have serious consequencies for the world peace. How their emergence onto the national scene is managed or mismanaged could go a long way in igniting yet another tragedy linked to terrorism.
The Afghan Taliban tragedy is a shame to America in particular and the global community in general. The war against terror may have suffered a major setback in Afghanistan. President Biden must assume responsibility and marshal out a robust plan for the future.