Afghanistan – Better late than never

Huffington Post Greece – Feb. 06, 2019

Eighteen years after the start of the Washington  and its NATO allies war against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, the language of logic has finally prevailed towards the next step.

This war, where Washington used more than 100,000 soldiers backed by thousands of NATO troops, cost more $ 2 trillion, hundreds of dead for allies, tens of thousands of air raids, missiles and bombs that leveled cities in Afghanistan and nearly 200,000 Afghans, mostly civilians, but also to the migration of more than 1 million in neighboring countries such as Pakistan, Iran and India and around 250,000 in Europe. In the end, direct negotiations between Taliban and Washington representatives began in Qatar, Doha, as an attempt to put an end to what George W. Bush launched in 2001.

On November 25, 2001, Washington announced the defeat of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, asserting that the presence of the US and NATO would be limited until the formation of an Afghan political government to lead the country and an Afghan army capable of maintaining security, stability and peace. In 2004, Afghanistan managed to hold presidential elections and in 2005 parliamentary elections.

Despite Washington’s efforts to prove the success of its military action through mock elections that did not bring any kind of stability, either economic or political, the situation was getting worse. Over time, the Taliban have reorganized and restored their influence in the country. Washington’s choice to rely on Afghan politicians who had spent most of their lives outside the Afghan environment did not encourage conservative Afghan society to accept them. Moreover, the economic structure established by Washington in the country was completely corrupt. Thus, the Taliban gradually gained control of Afghan territory to reach more than 60% at the beginning of this year, with control of Washington and allies supporting the Afghan government being confined to central cities facing attacks on a daily basis.

In a previous article, I spoke rationally about the inevitable development in Afghanistan following a study of the Afghan war experienced by the Soviets, which was one of the most important reasons for the fall of the Soviet Union. In this article, I talked about the growing Russian influence within the Taliban that aims to pull the carpet from Washington, as did Washington through the support it provided to Afghan fighters against the Soviets. A special conference was already held in Moscow calling for representatives of the Taliban and the Afghan government. My article closes with a clear message to Washington and NATO allies that it is time to overcome their narcissism and vanity and to pave the way for a diplomatic course directly with the Taliban to avoid the inevitable defeat of Washington and to stop economic bleeding and military casualties in Afghanistan. Indeed, during the past week the first direct negotiations between the Taliban and Washington began.

Despite Washington’s controversies and the Taliban leaks published by the Reuters news agency on the outcome of these negotiations, there is sure to be a positive development in the Afghan crisis. My source in Afghanistan assured me that the condition set by the Taliban were clear in terms of setting a specific time limit for the withdrawal of all US troops and NATO allied forces from Afghan territory as a prerequisite for reaching any solution that would end the conflict.

The US responded positively to this condition and underlined their intention to withdraw much of their troops from Afghanistan over the next few months. Washington, on the other hand, set as a condition that the Taliban stop all the attacks on the Afghan army and the western forces that support it after signing any agreement. Also, the Taliban will commit themselves to prevent the presence or formation of any jihadist group which may be attacking the West. For their part, the Taliban have confirmed that they will not stop their military operations until the last Western soldier leaves Afghanistan. At the end of the meeting, the two sides promised to meet again in a new session to be scheduled in the next few days or weeks.

It is paradoxical, in my view, that former US President Barack Obama, who represents the Democratic Party and promised to end the military intervention strategy to resolve international conflicts following the soft power theory, rejected any political solution with the Taliban and even increased troops in the country. On the other hand, Donald Trump, a representative of the Republican party seeing the war as the only strategy, took the decision to withdraw from Syria and start political talks with the Taliban to end the Afghan war. The only certain thing is that Afghanistan is now at the forefront of a political solution that will restore hope for the Afghan people. But Washington is preparing for the next war.