Prospect of Afghanistan after US Withdrawal

Afghanistan is in a perilous state, much like Yemen. Afghanistan is also burdened by its sectarian divide, much like Saudi Arabia. Taliban policy will alienate most of the world on human rights issues, with its strict Salafi Islam. Whether it will be able to hold the country together is not clear. It is vital for all its neighbors to keep a dialogue with the Taliban, and to be patient for it to reach accommodation with all sectors of society. The US and Europe are trying to pressure the Taliban into conforming to their demands, which is arrogant and ultimately foolish.

There is a near-complete absence of an alternative political discourse that even attempts to raise the possibility that the Taliban, despite all of their questionable strategies and practices, may, in fact, be a national liberation movement. When I make this point, feminists, in fact everyone, denounces me. ‘Women’s education,’ they whine. I try to explain:

There is nothing in the Quran that suggests women shouldn’t study; or be heard to public affairs. The Taliban get that idea from tribal custom. That said, at least women are safe now. People can travel without fear of kidnapping. That is a greater freedom that university education. I think of the Amish in the US. Children are brought up and study to the age of 16. Neither boys nor girls study after that. The Amish think advanced education is dangerous, making people arrogant, questioning their faith. The Amish are lauded in the US. The Taliban are following that religious idea.

We should try to work with the Taliban, respect them (they beat the US single-handed), and be patient. They will soften. The Saudis are the perfect example. At least the Taliban provide basic safety. To boycott them, denounce them, without giving them credit where credit is due, is foolish and dangerous.

The US project in Afghanistan was doomed from the start. To maintain a secular, pro-US regime required the US to maintain its troops and bases in Afghanistan. All Afghans were using US money to further their own ends.

A notable example of this is General Abdul Rahim, an ethnic Pashtun, Defense Minister of Afghanistan (2004—2012). He and his family are now in the US. His younger son Daoud Wardak, the president of a Miami-based firm AD Capital Group, owns a $5.2 million Miami Beach condo at the prestigious St Regis Bal Harbour resort, and recently bought a $20.9 million mansion in California. His older brother Hamed Wardak, a Georgetown University grad and onetime valedictorian, is a businessman who ran the military transportation company NCL Holdings that was paying off Afghan warlords protecting American supply routes in Afghanistan. His fortune is probably in the hundreds of millions, but he is more discrete than his younger brother.

US-NATO evacuated 120,000+ Afghan ‘refugees’, who include many more such corrupt officials. The more than $70b in US aid to Afghanistan is now considered wasted, as few projects were finished, and most money was siphoned off into officials’ pockets. Afghan officials created ‘ghost soldiers’ who existed only on paper, so the US would pay for them. That the Afghan army collapsed was inevitable.

The foreign policies of the US have always served US demands and have rarely benefited the recipient. The current situation merely confirms this.

Here we should clarify how China, Iran and Pakistan can help Afghanistan to recover. Afghanistan has observer status at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. There are other regional organs which will be able to aid Afghanistan in recovering. In 1985, the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) was established by Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey to promote economic, technical, and cultural cooperation among the member states.

The Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) is an economic union of states located in Eastern Europe, Western Asia, and Central Asia, founded in 2014 by the leaders of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia, and later including Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. Russian President Putin has stated that his goal was to enlarge the Eurasian Customs Union to all post-Soviet states, to grow into a powerful, supra-national union of sovereign states like the European Union, uniting economies, legal systems, customs services, and military capabilities to form a bridge between Europe and Asia to balance the EU and the US. These and others including India will work with Afghanistan to promote peace and the recovery of Afghanistan.

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