The Afghan Taliban have won their 20 year war, waged upon them by the United States of America, which initially saw the group deposed from power in 2001. But the victory claimed by the Taliban, ousting its former US-backed President Ashraf Ghani, is beginning to open up many questions on what really just happened in Afghanistan.
Aiming to withdraw its forces by the September 11 deadline, set by President Joe Biden, the United States as a result have witnessed the collapse of a nation-building project, 20 years in the making, in just a matter of months. Back in early July, US forces suddenly, and without much prior warning, decided to pullout from the Bagram air base and quickly scaled down their presence in the country.
Almost immediately after the withdrawal from the US’ most important and largest military base, the issue of Afghanistan did not leave international headlines as the fighting between Taliban militants and the Afghan Army took center stage. The Western corporate media have often sought to focus on the impact that ending NATO’s intervention in Afghanistan will have on LGBT+ and Women’s Rights in the country, as an argument for continued presence there.
When the Taliban took over Kabul, Afghanistan’s Capital city, this Sunday, it came as a great shock to many US military experts as well as political analysts. The most surprising part being that the city fell without a single bullet having been fired, the Afghan government simply fled, including President Ashraf Ghani, its police forces hung up their uniforms and their military took off in their US supplied vehicles.
So what exactly happened in Afghanistan, what was the US plan, why is the Western media upset, and did the US government fail its mission?
Narrative vs. Reality
Whilst withdrawing is undoubtably the right decision when it comes to the US government war on Afghanistan, it may well be confusing to many that Joe Biden, who voted for the war and has been involved in keeping it alive, is the President to now stand behind ending it.
President Joe Biden, although making the right arguments now as to why the US should leave, does not suddenly absolve himself from the blame that he deserves for helping create and maintain this war. According to the most conservative of estimates, at least 45,000 Afghan civilians have been killed as a result of this horrendous regime change operation, along with thousands of NATO forces who fought for a bogus cause within the country.
The Taliban did not commit the September 11 attacks on the United States of America, in 2001. They did harbor members of al-Qaeda, but the US quickly removed the Taliban from power that same year and forced most of the formerly protected al-Qaeda members across the border to Pakistan.
The US government then remained in Afghanistan, using its brutal military tactics against the Afghan people, whilst creating the world’s largest narco-State under their de-facto jurisdiction. Lawlessness has been ripe in Afghanistan, as has been an environment in which terrorist organisations have been able to flourish.
The government of Afghanistan has had its bills paid by the United States, its some 300,000+ forces trained by NATO forces, and has been armed to the teeth with some of the latest in US military technology. All of this, however, did not stop a Taliban force of roughly 70,000 from pushing them out of over half of the country’s provincial capitals and seizing power with relative ease.
The fall of the US’ puppet government in Kabul is reminiscent of the fall of the Soviet Union’s former puppet regime led by President Mohammad Najibullah. When the Soviets decided to pull out of the country in 1988, they had tried to facilitate negotiations between their Afghan government allies and rebel groups in the country, a tactic which resulted in a resounding failure.
The US government really had only two options left in Afghanistan, to redeploy tens of thousands of its own forces into the country to fight the Taliban or to leave. If the US was committed to holding Afghanistan, they would have faced a tougher Taliban than the one they forced out of power 20 years ago and the war would have went back into full spin. So rationally, for the US to have remained in Afghanistan would have been too risky and with the ineffective Afghan government forces by their side, it could have been a complete embarrassment if they stayed to fight the Taliban.
The reason for the opposition posed by the Western media, to Biden’s withdrawal, is very simple to break down and is likely due to their donors often belonging to the military industrial complex. The argument that women were somehow safer with the US there is just a fallacy, for one, the reports about the Taliban perhaps prohibiting women from attending schools is yet to be seen. Yet, this is not the main point here, many areas throughout Afghanistan are currently without educational facilities for women and do not allow Afghan girls to get an education.
If the US stayed, it is likely that the Taliban would have over come US forces anyway and taken the country by force, which would have been much worse for female civilians than what has just transpired. The disingenuous reporting in the Western media paints Afghanistan as some sort of safe haven for women and gay rights advocates with the US military there, but this is a wildly inaccurate depiction of the previous situation. This is not to say the Taliban will necessarily make the country a better place for women and LGBT+ people, but it was certainly no utopia before.
Then we have the more speculative side of what really just happened in the world’s poorest nation. Did the US perhaps allow this to happen, knowing they had secured a deal with the Taliban?
Afghanistan is a country rich in rare earth mineral wealth, trillions of dollars worth of resources have for years lay below the country’s turf, yet due to the unstable security situation and lack of infrastructure, that wealth has not yet been exploited. The Taliban are widely known to be a force capable of maintaining law and order, in fact they entered Kabul early for the reason of preventing looting and armed conflict after the Afghan government collapsed and fled.
The US government also froze the assets of Afghanistan, currently preventing the wealth of the nation falling into the hands of the Taliban. This could be why the Taliban are behaving in a way which seeks to please the international community, or at least using the language to make them happy.
The Afghan Taliban have also entered talks with Turkmenistan, pledging security for the long envisioned US-supported TAPI pipeline, which would pass through the country. If Turkmenistan, which has the fourth largest gas reserves on the planet, is able to take advantage of Afghanistan, then it would quickly gain access to the European market. The go-between nation facilitating these talks between the Taliban and Turkmenistan is allegedly the US government. In addition to the pipeline, there are also plans on the table for the construction of railroads through Afghanistan, which, with stability, may well attract the attention of potential donors.
In order for the US to get at the resources of Afghanistan and facilitate the construction of resource-transportation infrastructure, security must come as a result of the transition of power in Kabul. It seems as if the Taliban are at this stage in negotiations to form a new governing structure, which will allegedly include figures serving under the former puppet regime of the US. If the Taliban are looking to govern the country on the basis of power-sharing agreements and national unity, then we could be seeing a very new side to the group which the US was once fighting.
So, rather than looking at the situation and taking action based upon principle, Joe Biden is perhaps instead seeking a different type of exploitation. If the Taliban does not play ball, the US may well get militarily involved once again, in a more limited capacity, but for now, the military side of this war has been lost. It was smart to withdraw at this time, but it was also a reality the American government was forced to face.