The only goal of the Taliban has been to take full control of Afghanistan and impose a Taliban constituted Islamic rule which is comical.
by Anwar A. Khan
Afghanistan has been witnessing more blood with every sunrise. The Taliban’s thirst for blood keeps growing and the state of insurgency seems like a never ending story. The USA, NATO, Russia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and other parties have battled for years in Afghanistan but the situation keeps worsening only. Understanding the current events, one question comes naturally. Who is responsible for the Afghanistan insurgency? Why, after the intervention of so many nations, is the situation still out of control? With whom help, how did the Taliban gain control of a major part of the country? How other states have only taken advantage of Afghanistan and left the country to burn?
Tuesday, September 11, 2001, in the morning, two commercial planes American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the north and south towers of the world trade center in Manhattan, USA. Both 110-storeyed towers collapsed, taking down other surrounding buildings along with them. In the same morning at 9:37, a third plane American Airlines Flight 77, bumped into the west side of the Pentagon. Fourth plane, United airlines flight 93 which was heading towards Washington D.C. with the possible target of White house or Capitol building got diverted and hit the ground in a field in Pennsylvania.
This was the biggest terrorist attack by far and reaction was obvious. All four planes were hijacked and all fingers pointed towards the terrorist group Al-Qaeda running from Afghanistan and its leader Osama Bin-Laden. Then British prime minister Tony Blair met George Bush and helped him convince the other nations to support USA against terrorism. Many European nations, Australia and NATO pledged to assist the USA militarily.
On October 7, 2001, the war in Afghanistan began with aerial bombings on possible Taliban and Al-Qaeda hideouts. Even Iran sent its Quds force to fight along with the USA in the war that was never going to end. US fighter planes and drones attacked on targets but they also blew up more than half of the Afghanistan that was already burning. They couldn’t kill Osama Bin-Laden until 2011 but the goal of abolishing the Taliban was never achieved. Afghanistan is now even witnessing its worst insurgency caused by the Taliban.
Mohammad Sardar Daoud Khan overthrew the royal family of Afghanistan in 1973 and declared it a republic. He revoked the constitution and started some reforms as well. But he could not enjoy the power for long. A Marxist Leninist political party named People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) seized power and Mohammad Daoud was assassinated. PDPA was established in 1965 influenced by the USSR involvement which was begun a few years earlier. Afghanistan people enjoyed democracy under the PDPA regime too but they slowly started implementing Marxist-Leninist ideology that was quite different from their local and Islamic identity.
Extreme implementation of these policies created a stir among people. The USSR helped the PDPA government financially and sent contractors to make hospitals, roads, schools etc. in Afghanistan as the government brought socialist reforms and moved to state atheism. PDPA went too far to curb religious practices and jailed several religious leaders, preachers and followers. They reportedly killed thousands of people who just simply wanted to follow their religion in their own way. Rather than applying a systematic process PDPA used aggressive and violent measures to turn the whole population to liberal and atheist from their Islamist ideology. These moves kept making the government unpopular and forced religious people to come together forming groups and fight against these atrocities.
As the repression of the government increased, more and more people stood against the regime to restore their Islamic identity. An open war has begun between Islamic groups and the government. Now the Soviet Union decided to intervene and sent its Red Army to Afghanistan in 1979. Over 100,000 Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan with the support of the Afghan military. A term Afghan Mujahideen came into light to represent various rebel fighters struggling against Soviet Union and Afghan military.
They were groups of many tribes united under the banner of Islam. The military intervention of Soviet Union triggered the USA who did not want Afghanistan to become a Soviet Union territory. Amidst the escalating cold war, the USA took this as an opportunity to make a dent in rising USSR supremacy and establish themselves closer to the USSR. They started sending weapons and other support to the Islamist groups Afghan Mujahideen.
Saudi Arabia too supported the cause, who was interested in establishing an Islamic rule in Afghanistan to gain advantage against Iran. Pakistan took this opportunity to come closer to the USA for more funding and let them use assets of their spy agency ISI. Afghan Mujahideen now were no longer rebellion tribal fighters, and with the major support from USA, Saudi and Pakistan they grew stronger and more structured. It was the origin of a so-called Islamist organisation that later branched into Taliban. Now they could face Soviet and Afghan army with the latest US weapons and eventually Soviet withdrew in 1989.
First the Soviet invasion and then the USA intervention turned out to be major turning points that altered the history of Afghanistan and the whole world.
Now an official date has been announced by Joe Biden and 31st August will be the end of America’s combat involvement in Afghanistan. The announcement has come at the time when the Taliban has become deadliest in years. They have taken control of a major part of the country including several border crossings.
The only goal of the Taliban has been to take full control of Afghanistan and impose a Taliban constituted Islamic rule which is comical. There is a small fraction of Taliban who want this to happen with peace by signing treaties with the USA and other countries and a large part of the Taliban want to acquire power with force. Either with the force or with talks, the outcome will be horrible for the world and for Afghanistan.
World’s most advanced military power, the USA, pledging in front of their citizens to win every war with any nation if needed could not overthrow a militant group in 20 years. Sorry to say that but there is no hope for a bright future for Afghan people in near terms. Everybody played its part in Afghanistan to take more and more strategic advantage over their rival nations and the Taliban grew stronger with every passing year.
The same leaders of Afghanistan, USA supported against the USSR nurtured the Taliban that grew stronger with the Saudi and Pakistan support that years later outlined the deadliest and biggest attack on the USA by far. It is ironic that the US fought in Afghanistan for more than a decade to cut the same tree which they nourished when it was a mere seed. That tree has now become so deep rooted since 2001 that it could swallow whole Afghanistan.
Afghanistan has witnessed the footsteps of Neanderthals to the glorious Indus valley civilization. It became the cradle of several religions as Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. They were also influenced by Iranians, Indians, Mongols, Turks and Greeks under their rule. The diversification of this kind led them to divide into several tribes that could never unite as a nation even until the modern times. That gave advantage to the Taliban and other groups to impose their atrocities.
The USA had started a war against the Taliban in 2001. Since then, they killed several big leaders of the militant group, but even after 20 years they could not win this fight. Domestic pressure forced the USA to withdraw its forces and the process was already started in the Obama period.
“In Afghanistan, the past – the darkness of Medieval age is back” but with more ferocity – for using or selling of religion – Islam, but in their own manufactured brand of Islam – Talibani Islam, once again…Sorrows and sufferings for Afghan people will be knowing no bound. Who will control these terrible Talibani people?
In fact, Afghanistan is now a terrified inhabited place! I feel Sahraa Karimi and other Afghan families wailing from deep-down of my heart. How shall I and where shall I pray for their safety?
-The End –
The writer is an independent political analyst based in Dhaka, Bangladesh who writes on politics, political and human-centred figures, current and international affairs.