In Afghanistan, despite trillions of dollars spent, hundreds of thousands of lives lost during two decades, America has given birth to a failed state, instead of achieving success in defeating radical Islamic terror. Heartrending images emerging from the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan evidently brings the elements of failures yet aftermath of past debacles in Iraq and Libya continues to simmer in the background. But unfortunately, those so-called pundits will never accept these plain facts. Instead they will continue dismissing these disasters as the “inevitable” consequence of centuries-old ethnic sectarian stability, prosperity, and national unity, marked by the strengthening of civil society embodying universal, or what we have come to call “democratic”, values. No one, instead of asking what went wrong in the past two decades should have actually asked – what went right in the so-called better times.
With too many discouraging news about the war on terror in a number of countries, such as Iraq, Libya and lately Afghanistan, we are witnessing the disturbing rise of a terror-monger Iran as a nuclear nation, which shall use its notorious muscle in scaring and threatening the world with the ulterior agenda of extorting cash and benefits in numerous ways.
We also are witnessing continuous hostility of Iranian proxies Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza and Houthis in Yemen not only flexing terrorist muscles but also almost uninterruptedly increasing capacities of destruction. America, instead of checking these evil forces or declaring war against these outfits has very recently removed Houthis from the list of terrorist entities, granting extended opportunities to this Iranian proxy in further accelerating dangerous terrorism in the Middle East targeting Saudi Arabia. In other words, by removing Houthis from the list of terrorist entities, the United States has clearly backstabbed Saudi Arabia, despite the fact of Riyadh being an all of Washington. One may conclude saying, America is using the Houthi card as an effective tool of blackmailing Saudi Arabia and extort billions of dollars. Here again, the unfortunate fact is, Saudi Arabia, being the leader and guardian of the Muslim world either is failing to realize this simple math or are unwilling to find alternative paths of confronting Iran’s and its proxy’s vicious notoriety. While the US and the Western world are putting equal emphasis on physical and cyber war (by putting huge attention to media), Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia are yet to start using the media as an additional tool of establishing dominance on the cyber and media warfare. We have witnessed how American media has played cruel role against the Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman with Jamal Khashoggi case. In this case, Khashoggi, a Muslim Brotherhood member and affiliate of the Taliban, Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda had surprisingly been considered as America’s blue-eyed-boy instead of being an enemy.
Wish Saudi ruler would realize this fact.
Anyway, in the troubled days of Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan, it was not the investment of trillions of dollars or a similar vast
In the untroubled days of Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan, it was not the investment of trillions of dollars o a similarly vast military commitment that made the difference. Rather, a focus on strengthening each country’s national ethos was the “secret sauce”, something that allowed for political frameworks to be founded upon local culture, national history, revered symbols, and familiar ideas. In cases where success lasted, solutions were reached through familiar political processes, all based on the trademarks of a distinctive national identity or cause.
Fledgling though it may have been, national identity nevertheless served as a critical unifying factor in each of these countries, gluing together countries otherwise factionalized along tribal, ethnic, sectarian, religious, and other dividing lines. A strong national identity was a necessary condition for the success of each of these countries. The recent history of Afghanistan and Libya demonstrates this point.
Until a Soviet-backed coup in 1973, Afghanistan’s last monarch, Mohammed Zahir Shah, presided over a functioning nation-state built around the country’s unique history, customs, and shared values. Despite a long history of tribal infighting, Zahir Shah managed to create national institutions which strengthened the country’s national identity, allowing Afghans to articulate a national identity alongside their own ethnic, tribal, and sectarian ones.
By the early 1960s, Afghanistan was sufficiently coherent as a nation for Zahir Shah to enact the constitutional reforms of 1964, which turned Afghanistan into a constitutional monarchy. A parliament was elected in 1965 and 1969, while successive governments worked under prime ministers who were not members of the ruling Durrani dynasty. The pace of reform was slow, but Afghanistan’s fledgling democracy was a remarkable island in a region dominated by authoritarian regimes. It could not survive the Cold War, and in 1973, a Soviet-backed coup ended Afghanistan’s decade-long experiment with democracy. The Soviet war machine arrived in 1979, and the rest is history.
In Libya, more than 140 tribes and three historically distinct regions used the traditional process of bay’ah to pledge allegiance to Sayyid Idris al-Senussi, a religious leader and anti-Italian resistance fighter. In December 1951, Idris became the first and only King of the United Kingdom of Libya.
The 1951 Libyan constitution offered expansive political and social freedoms, many of which would not have been out of place in Western Europe. Article 11 guaranteed the rule of law; Article 21 guaranteed freedom of conscience; Article 23 guaranteed the freedom of the press. The parliamentary system was elected through universal suffrage at a time when even Switzerland and Portugal barred women from voting.
Idris was the head of the Senussi clan, an ancient Hashemite family and Sufi order that stood above the Libyan tribal fray and had served as a unifying focal point for Libya for more than two centuries, most prominently in the decades-long war against Italian colonization prior to the Second World War. Many Libyans still regard the years between 1951 and 1969 as Libya’s “golden age”, and one of the limited windows in which an organic idea of “Libyanness” was developed. Libya’s distinctive national identity embodied universal values and was built around emerging national institutions that were consistent with Libyan customs, Libya’s unique history and its tribal context.
This, too, was derailed, this time by the pan-Arabist frenzy of the 1950s and 1960s. Pan-Arabism, socialist and Soviet-leaning, attempted to manufacture an Arab identity at the expense of national identity. Arab nation states were still fledgling and vulnerable, and many fell under the spell of its most charming ideologues. This movement brought Muammar al Gaddafi to power in 1969; once again, the rest is history.
In Afghanistan and Libya, and elsewhere across the region, periods of success were focused on attempts to build the foundations of a national identity. The West has quite flagrantly ignored the importance of this component of state-building, instead opting to transform nations in its own image. Perhaps the most prominent example of this mistake is the 2002 decision by the UN to veto an attempt by Afghanistan’s loya jirga tribal assembly to restore Zahir Shah to the throne, depriving Afghan politics of a possible independent arbiter. One wonders how things could have turned out differently, had the examples of history been heeded.
The West and western-influenced institutions such as the UN have supported western-sounding, often western-educated political leaders, pushing them to hold western-style elections in order to realize western political paradigms, with the help of western money and guns. This is nothing less than “radical westernism”. In every instance, it has led to complete failure. Taken together, this has produced human misery on a grotesque scale and has also contributed to the triumph of autocracy over liberty, thus diminishing the influence and security of the West.
What we understand now is – America’s war on terror has not achieved any success save for giving birth to newer terrorist entities in the world along with creation of rogue states or failed states, despite the fact that the hallmark of a radical ideology and rise of radical and political Islam is a claim to absolute truth. After wasting trillions of dollars, what America is seeing today is extended zeal in the Taliban and other jihadist groups in pushing forward the agenda of bringing the world under the Caliphate flags.
In Afghanistan, a neo Islamic State is being emerged, which may further spread within many other nations, especially Arab nations, unless there is immediate efforts from the countries under threats of the invasion of Caliphate-mongers in defeating such vicious circles. Arab nations need to immediately focus on establishing and further increasing their strength in cyber and media worlds.
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