Afghanistan in danger as Taliban flex muscle

People in Afghanistan have lived in a so-called peace due to presence of US and NATO military forces which have tried to underpin the stability of the country and save the country from turning into terrorist safe haven. After almost two decades, now Afghans are terrorized with the extreme fear of the return of Taliban as well as other militancy forces including Al Qaeda, which would soon turn the country into a neo-Caliphate. According to media reports, Taliban forces have resumed their campaign to conquer and grab rural areas across the country even before the foreign forces have completed their withdrawal, which is due by the end of August.

When United States will observe the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Afghan government will be fighting for its survival or may be by that time, Afghanistan will go under Taliban and jihadist rule.

Commenting on the upcoming realities in Afghanistan, Mohamed Chebaro is a British-Lebanese journalist with more than 25 years’ experience covering war, terrorism, defense, current affairs and diplomacy wrote in the Arab News: I was one of the few Arab reporters to cover the Afghan war in 2001 and its aftermath. For me, that story was very close to home as I was raised in Beirut in the 1970s and 1980s, prior to moving to the UK just as the “black wave” — or the rise of Islamist fundamentalism — was making strides across the Middle East and parts of Central Asia. From a young age, I followed the mujahideen’s fight against the Soviet invaders and later, at university, I drew parallels between Lebanon and Afghanistan’s pluralism and the challenges in shaping a national identity that were constantly outdone by religion, sectarianism and foreign influence in Lebanon, added to ethnicity and tribalism in Afghanistan.

I recall writing academic papers on “Moscow’s Afghan paradox” and its failure to shape an Afghan state and society, with ideologies, religions, cultures and ethnicities checking all efforts to unify the country and cement its national identity. Such adversities are gathering pace again in Afghanistan, as that wave of fundamentalism has not receded, nor is it likely to waiver soon. 

Across the ages, Afghanistan has defied invaders, but it has also defied peaceful coexistence between its people.

With the number of casualties mounting, international organizations and regional neighbors are bracing themselves for new waves of displacement. The outgoing US generals remain confident that the 300,000-strong Afghan military will be able to hold on to provincial capitals, despite their dwindling supplies and air cover and the Taliban’s “strategic momentum.” Their advice is for the central government to defend the cities and withdraw from less strategic rural regions, but that would mean a protracted struggle that I am not sure the current Afghan government has the stomach for, or is capable of winning.

History has shown Afghans to be intuitively political. It has been said they have never lost a war, as they seemingly manage to strike a deal at the eleventh hour and shift their allegiance.

Recently, Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen contended that Taliban’s latest battlefield gains were made through negotiations, insisting that they did not have the means to militarily capture 200 provinces in eight weeks. But he also said, Taliban have the capacity to gain control over the rest of the country by means of the weapons acquired from surrendering Afghan troops if they were forced to.

What does that mean?

Although people in the West in particular believe Taliban will not deprive girls to education and that they will not re-implement the intolerant and extreme form of religion which was seen between 1996 to 2001, analysts say, Taliban will never change in its nature. It will re-impose the 1996-2001 type rule in the country, if not worse, while this time, Taliban will also grant space to radical Islamic militancy groups such as Al Qaeda and Islamic State as well as Iranian proxies, thus turning the country into a land controlled by radical Islamic forces, jihadists and terrorists.

Sensing such cruel consequence, Afghans already are acquiring visas and leaving the country before it is too late. Some of them believe, American has been defeated after 20 years in the country.

Some experts of Afghan affairs say, Vladimir Putin’s Russia, Xi Jinping’s China, Pakistan and Iran all have an opportunity in the post-US era to help Afghanistan stay peaceful. They could demonstrate that, where America failed, the likes of Russia and China, for example, can broker a stable state that is able to tame the region’s terrorism beast and prevent Afghanistan once again becoming a regional magnet for dark forces from far and wide.

Whatever the analysts say, in my opinion, once the US and NATO troops are totally withdrawn from Afghanistan, none of the foreign nations will get any opportunity in playing role in the country. Afghans do not believe Russia and still consider Moscow as an aggressor, while to majority of the people, a non-Muslim China may also not be seen as an ally. In this case, two nations in particular, Pakistan and Iran will become dominant players in Afghanistan within next one year, and they would jointly use Afghan soil in implementing their vicious terrorist agendas.

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