( Seven minute read)

Afghanistan is a beautiful country with a long history and rich culture, but for decades it has been torn apart by war.

Since returning to power in Afghanistan the Taliban government has reintroduced a draconian interpretation of Islamic law such as public executions of convicted murderers and adulterers, as well as amputations for those found guilty of theft.

Men were required to grow beards and women had to wear the all-covering burka, girls are banned from  secondary education. (The only gender-based ban on studying in the world.)

In the year since they returned to power no country has recognised the Taliban government.  Meaning that desperately needed foreign-held funds are unlikely to be released any time soon.

Who are the Taliban?

In 1973, a coup deposed Afghanistan’s King Mohammad Zahir Shah. After the coup, the monarchy was abolished and the Republic of Afghanistan was formed, establishing close ties with the then-Soviet Union.

Six years later, the USSR invaded Afghanistan to support the pro-Soviet government, which was facing attacks from armed groups. The decade long war forced millions of Afghans to flee and attracted foreign fighters, including Osama bin Laden, who joined the battle against the Soviets.

In 1989, the Soviets withdrew after agreeing to a peace deal.

The Taliban, or “students” in the Pashto language, emerged in the early 1990s in northern Pakistan following the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan.

By 1998, the Taliban were in control of almost 90% of Afghanistan.

In the wake of the 11 September 2001 World Trade Centre attacks in New York the attention of the world was drawn to the Taliban in Afghanistan.  The Taliban were accused of providing a sanctuary for the prime suspects, Osama Bin Laden and his al-Qaeda movement

In October 2001, the U.S. and its allies invaded Afghanistan after the Taliban refused to hand over the Al Qaeda leader and author of 9/11. By December, the Taliban had surrendered control of the country, but already in 2006, Taliban attacks were intensifying in the form of raids, ambushes, rocket attacks, kidnappings and assassinations.

Osama bin Laden, the founder and first leader of the Islamist militant group al-Qaeda, was killed in Pakistan on May 2, 2011.

In February 2020, then-President Donald Trump signed a peace deal with the Taliban that included the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan by May 2021.

The agreement was upheld by President Joe Biden, who extended the deadline to Aug. 31, two decades to the day since the felling of the World Trade Centre.

US President Joe Biden announced in April 2021 that all American forces would leave the country by 11 September.

By 15 August, the Taliban were at the gates of Kabul and we all know what happened then.

Departing American forces along with the Brits abandoned millions of dollars worth of weapons, vehicles and other military equipment, which was immediately seized by the Taliban after they returned to power.

Now years later, militant Islamic extremism has hardly recede, with his replacement, Ayman al-Zawahiri, killed on July 31, 2022, in a U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan.

The withdrawal was criticized for being rushed, disorganized and chaotic with millions are now struggling to survive.

More than 40% of the population is living on less than one meal a day and 97% are expected to be living under the poverty line by the end of the year.

Afghan Taliban fighters and villagers attend a gathering as they celebrate the peace deal signed between US and Taliban in Laghman Province, Alingar district on March 2, 2020.

The war in Afghanistan was America’s longest conflict, lasting almost two decades. In that time, 2,248 U.S. soldiers lost their lives and 47,245 Afghan civilians were killed.

The death toll for members of the Afghan National Army and police is 66,000, while the number of Taliban fighters and other insurgents killed during the war is 51,191.

The U.S. government spent more than $2 trillion funding the war.

For the most of the last 20 years, the US have supported the government in Afghanistan that was put in place following the war. As global leaders sought to economically isolate the Taliban, their policy approaches have crippled the economy, destroyed the banking sector and plunged the country into a humanitarian catastrophe that has left more than 24 million without enough food to eat each day.

In one short year, the economy is now on the brink of collapse, millions are unemployed and close to starvation with anyone opposed to the Taliban rule risking being tortured.

Is there a difference between al-Qaeda ISIS  and the Taliban?

Al-Qaeda grew out of battlefield bonds forged in the Afghan insurgency against the Soviet Union its primarily targets being the United States and Europe as their far enemy. Its propaganda tries to convince Muslims over time to follow Al-Qaeda’s vision of “global jihad.”

ISIS prioritizes the creation of an Islamic state in the Muslim world but its military losses has undermine its appeal and ultimately discredit jihadist groups in general. They have  metastasized into Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab. And so continues to be very much a threat that the world have to focus on.

However one does not have to be a military, political or a Taliban to know that the magnets for jihadi recruitment is the continuing killing, whether its by legalizer violence in the form of war or not.

If the world now stands by an allows the children of a nation die by starvation as a form of revenge it will be committing the very things it has fought against since world war two.

We can rest assured that those who survive will be looking for revenge.

You only have to look at the number of young people fleeing high levels of violence, crime, natural disasters, food insecurity, and poverty to realize this.

It is naïve to demand that Taliban give up terrorism — the very method that has given them some significance for more than a quarter of a century. Terror is the very raison d’etre of this outfit.

Why should the group listen to Western powers when they have neither a coherent policy nor the hard power needed to back any of their policies other than the gun.

In the final analysis, however, a regime that treats its own people with utter contempt is unlikely to offer foreigners, especially the “infidel,” a better deal.

But the choice is not limited to another full scale invasion or abject surrender or to recognize the gun-toting “religious students” as the legitimate government of that long-suffering land.

The conditions set by the Defeated are about giving up terrorism, respecting human rights, allowing Afghans who wish to leave the country to do so, and stop oppressing women.

Isn’t that all a bit premature?  As the Taliban actually do not control Afghanistan in any meaningful way.

The key concern right now is the disarray in the so-called democratic camp, thanks to  the war in the Ukraine

Right now, the Talban need the outside world more than the outside world needs them.

Confront the reality of the situation” in Afghanistan.

In other words, while admitting that they are there, we have two options.

The Taliban have won, militarily, however there wasn’t really a healthy democracy bringing widespread freedom, there was a corrupt client government siphoning off cash in return for doing the occupying powers’ bidding, and this came at the cost of brutal war which caught up entirely innocent Afghans.

Without Aid and the realise foreign-held funds Afghanistan even with food aid cannot pay hospital workers or the people who maintain urban water supply or deliver the food aid.

One way or the other we have a very short window of opportunity now to make it happen through our decisions we make in terms of international aid and the relations we form with the current Taliban.

If we ignore Afghanistan, denying the aid we will drive a fissure between the moderate wing of the Taliban, the Kandahari Taliban and the hardliners, the Haqannis, and there is every like hood  we will have created a civil war upon Afghanistan, inflicting  upon Afghanistan a catastrophe that follows this disaster.

We must swallow our pride and support the moderate wing of the Taliban, who are not committed to international terrorism and want a conservative country which will not be in line with Western values but will be better than the extremism of the Taliban.

At the same time one must ask where are the liberal Afghanistan opposition voices, over 100,000-plus Afghans left.

The media, which focused instead on claims of “betrayal” by the United States in order to avoid discussing the depth of the defeat and deep failures of the Afghan occupation, avoiding the question how long before the west recognises  a humanitarian crisis or even a civil war in Afghanistan.

I just don’t think there is a political will in the West to avoid a disaster of biblical proportions that will spill over and destabilize the rest of this part of the world.

All human comments appreciated. All like clicks and abuse chucked in the bin.

Contact:  bobdillon33@gmail.com