U.S. President in a statement this Tuesday uttered that he did not regret his decision to withdraw from Afghanistan adding that the U.S. has spent more than $1 trillion over 20 years and lost thousands of troops. These words by the President of the U.S. supplement the argument that “Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires”.
The question that arises here is that who made it so? Is it the Afghan people? Of course not! Is it Pakistan? Not exactly! It is actually the high ambitions of expeditions of the major world powers that compelled the mountainous landlocked country into a constant battleground.
An overview of the recent history of Afghanistan reveals that, initially, Russian military ambitions have been high on Afghan soil until the latter got a severe blow back in the home country with the demise of the former Soviet Unionist Republic – USSR.
Russia invaded Afghanistan in late December 1979 apparently in support of the Afghan communist government in its conflict with anti-communist powers (guerrillas). It so happened during the Aghan civil war. Civil war is exactly what is high on the apprehensions of the international community and that if it is the case yet again as evident from the ongoing internal fight for power between government forces and several armed groups then Aghanistan might once again be at the receiving end of all the obstacles.
The U.S. that is now eager to leave Afghanistan in the midst of the crisis attacked the latter with heavy bombings on October 7, 2001. Seemingly, the US was responding to the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, in which nearly 3,000 people were killed. Officials identified Islamist militant group al-Qaeda, and its leader Osama Bin Laden, as responsible. Bin Laden was reported to be hiding in Afghanistan, under the protection of the Taliban, who had been in power since 1996. When they refused to hand him over, the US intervened militarily. Since then the conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions.
Afghanistan has ever been and would be a hard choice for whatever world powers tried to conquer it. One reason might be the tough terrain and another and most pertinent one is, perhaps, the bravery and extraordinary valor of its people.
Even pre-historic evidence lets out that Afghan people never let go of their courage and strength of national supremacy. They have never been welcoming to the foreign invaders, to say the least. Instead, they’ve always given a tough time to those who keep an eye on their land – Afghanistan.
What’s currently going on in Afghanistan?
Taliban are constantly advancing towards northern districts and have been able to turn each northern victory into an opportunity to send more forces to other critical positions. That raises the alarms that a Taliban consolidation in the north could make it easier to turn their eyes on Kabul. Taliban fighters could isolate Afghanistan’s capital in 30 days and possibly take it over in 90 days, Reuters quoted a U.S. defense official as saying.
Currently, at least 9 provincial capitals have been seized by the Taliban in Afghanistan within a week. Nimruz province in the south was the first provincial capital to fall to the Taliban insurgents. The Taliban had already gained vast parts of rural Afghanistan since launching a series of offensives in May this year. The speed of advances made by the Taliban is shocking for the government and its allies.
However, in Western Afghanistan Farah has been the moot point for the Taliban. There are fights ongoing in various parts and the Taliban are attempting to advance on the western side as well. Once they take control of the Farah and other cities in the area, the Taliban would be able to funnel their fighters towards other regions of strategic military importance in order to reinforce their positions.
About the U.S. military withdrawal
As 95 percent withdrawal of U.S. and allies is complete the fears are high in Afghanistan as well as in other countries of the region about the post-withdrawal chaos.
Afghanistan – a country that is currently home to various lingual and ethnic groups including Baloch, Tajiks, Hazaras, Pashtuns, Kyrgyz, Turkmen can become a launchpad for the terrorism-related operations in adjoining countries due to an environment of agitation between various Afghan factions.
There are also fears of rising ISIS’ influence within Afghanistan as the U.S. is backing off the battleground. Iran has serious apprehensions that the future might not be safe for the Hazaras in Afghanistan.
The United States is likely to complete the withdrawal of its forces this month in exchange for Taliban promises to prevent Afghanistan from being used for international terrorism. The Taliban promised not to attack foreign forces as they withdraw but denied agreeing to a ceasefire with the government forces.
The only suggestible way forward, perhaps, would be an early intra-Afghan dialogue process. Only this can avoid furthering the unrest in parts of Afghanistan. All the regional countries most essentially China, Pakistan, and Iran must come forward and dispense their diplomatic energies focussing on intra-Afghan peace and negotiation. A peaceful Afghanistan would be in favour of humanity, to say the least.