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Afghanistan: Cultivating Crisis

Granted, he is fulfilling a longtime promise and goal of over a decade of US Presidential and foreign and military policy, but President Joe Biden’s decision to continue with the planned withdraw of US troops from Afghanistan coupled with absconding ex-Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's incompetent government has empowered one of the globe’s most notorious terrorist groups with a haul of American military weapons and resources that has ever been made available to them.

The immediate result? Central and South Asia and the wider world are once again at great risk of terror. Not just those who are now facing an uncertain future under a regime that in the past proved to inflict terror and rule by brutal force, but also those in the surrounding areas. We must not forget that conditions like these allow black-market economies to flourish and force those with no other choice to risk their lives and pay thousands of dollars for their facilitation across borders. At this point, sanctions placed on Afghanistan and any more delays in getting aid and assistance to those who need it most would only worsen the humanitarian disaster that has, arguably, been building for the past several decades. If the objective with consecutive invasions and twenty years of occupation within Eastern and Central Asia was to squash terrorist activity and promote, at minimum, the conditions necessary for a potential democratic state and inclusive government to evolve, this will have the exact opposite effect.

Many questions about the future of Afghanistan still go unanswered by their current administration, and the international community has a lot to answer for when it comes to the disastrous withdraw of their presence in this key Central Asian country. The ISIS-K bomb blasts outside of Hamid Karzai International Airport, resulting in the deaths of foreign servicemen and over one hundred Afghan civilians shows that terrorism is already thriving in the chaos of the current Afghan state.

Have we forgotten that the Taliban sleeps in the same bed as Al Qaida, ISIS, and myriad other transnational terror groups? Afghanistan will once again become a haven for terrorists and illicit drug trading hubs. The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan reminds me and my generation of the dark days of the 90s. Some have reported that the Taliban has changed (mostly the Taliban, amid their so-called “charm offensive”), but to my mind, any change has been for the worse.

Before this change, the international community, and that includes the international community of Afghans, like myself, had collectively made significant progress across human and women’s rights, freedom of speech, reconstruction, local business development, and education. Now all of that investment, blood, and treasure seems wasted for President Joe Biden’s abrupt and poor management of the final drawdown of formerly protective US forces. The embarrassment is bound to taint the 47th US President’s legacy and continue to shame America. Afghans will never forgive you, Mr. Biden, NATO, or Ashraf Ghani.

Editor's Note:

This sudden change in the political narrative from viewing the Taliban as an exclusively terrorist organization towards recognizing them as a political entity greatly endangers the lives of people inside of Afghanistan and, as noted, those in the immediate region. This also endangers those coming to their aid. Many Afghan voices have fallen silent out of fear of repercussion. Those of us who have historically intervened in these crisis situations hesitate now as talks of the digital prowess of the Taliban signal danger for outspoken Afghans and their families, and even humanitarians like myself with no direct link to Afghanistan per se worry immensely about how our efforts may be viewed in the eyes of the law.

As the author mentions, this power shift and the manner in which the Taliban's takeover is currently being handled by the international community will pave the way for illegal activity from drug and weapon trafficking to the facilitation of "illegal" migration. The mishandling of evacuations and the withdrawal of international troops will also leave people with no choice but to flee immediate danger in any possible way. We have already seen a dramatic increase in the dangers people face along this migration pathway from treacherous crossings through the mountains and lakes surrounding the border territory between Turkey and Iran, newly reinforced border fences, and increasing deadly hostility and criminalization of asylum seekers in the European Union, coupled with no cohesive plan from a political body that claims to be a unifying power between individual European states. The stakes are high. Grassroots movements and tireless advocacy from larger human rights groups continue to try to push cases through high courts like the European Court of Human Rights where several cases of illegal pushbacks have been brought forth by legal organizations on behalf of asylum seekers - but this does not represent the thousands of people who have gone missing or died along this pathway who will never see justice.

We must not forget that the direct blame, should this power shift escalate to an even bigger humanitarian crisis, bloody conflict or even genocide, must be rightly placed on the political powers who allowed this to happen. The international community has proven in the past week that it is fine with paving the way for the endangerment of civilians and the facilitation of illegal trafficking, terror, and state-sponsored violence.

We appreciate this submission to our blog. The author requests to remain anonymous to protect their friends, family, and their own future in Afghanistan.

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