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The US Department of State announced, in an unusually harsh statement, the reduction of $1 billion of US aid to Afghanistan this year and warned of their preparedness to reduce by another $1 billion in 2021. The harsh statement also threatened further reductions in all forms of cooperation between the US and Afghanistan after the country’s rival leaders failed to agree on forming a new government.
The “unexpected” decision to cut the aid was made on Monday by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after he made an urgent visit to Kabul to meet with Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, the rival Afghan politicians who have each declared themselves president of the country after disputed elections last year.
Pompeo flew from the United States all the way to Kabul in an unannounced visit, despite the global travel bans due to the Coronavirus pandemic, and had hoped to break the deadlock between the two dueling Afghan politicians, but was unable to bring the two leaders to agree on “an inclusive government that can meet the challenges of governance, peace, and security, and provide for the health and welfare of Afghan citizens”. Pompeo slammed the two leaders for being unable to work together and threatening a potential peace deal that could end America’s longest-running conflict.
This “disappointing” announcement comes amid the globally spreading Coronavirus pandemic – and in a time, when Afghanistan is facing its “worst” days in the last two decades of the history of Afghanistan. Security situations have worsened, the Taliban and ISIS have increased attacks on major cities as part of their spring-offensive, the economy has badly dwindled, unemployment is at record high level, the nation is divided and the Taliban are on the doorsteps of major cities and the capital, Kabul!
Afghanistan relies on international aid in order to run its government, pay its soldiers, provide education and healthcare to its citizens and rebuild the war-ravaged country. The U.S. has been the prime backer of the Afghan government since it invaded the country in 2001 and overthrew the Taliban after the 9/11 attacks.
Will the reduction of aid resolve the political crisis in Afghanistan? The quick answerer is, NO.
The political crisis in Afghanistan is created by the political leadership of Afghanistan. The reduction of aid will not affect the “Leadership” of Afghanistan. Afghan leaders and their “small teams” have their own “luxury and expensive” way of living in Afghanistan. Living in “isolated” state-owned palaces and posh areas of the capital They are rich, their children and family live abroad and those in Kabul, are living inside secured and “big walled” compounds. There is little to lose for the leadership circle.
The leadership’s prime goal in Afghanistan is “to stay in power”; the well-being of their homeland and citizens is not the priority in their agendas. The incessant disagreements and distrust among the leadership of Afghanistan have brought the war-ravaged country to the edge of the cliff. uncertainty and chaos loom everywhere. These selfish leaders have taken hostage the peace process, elections, hope and future of Afghanistan.
The reduction of aid will not affect corrupt politicians or leaders. It is the common Afghan citizens who will suffer the most. The reduction of aid will hit hard the Afghan people in the midst of spreading coronavirus and a dwindling economy. Security will also be badly affected and the slow pace of reconstruction in Afghanistan will be halted.
Afghans need the US and international aid more than ever, in order to face the ongoing security, economic and political challenges that are created by the US and their allies in Afghanistan.
The United States has a moral responsibility of supporting Afghans in rebuilding their war-ravaged country after four decades of od war and conflict. Humanitarian aid should not be considered a tool for pursuing US national interests.
Afghans hope that the United States does not abandon Afghanistan again, as they did in the early 90s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Afghans want the US to continue their generous support to the Afghan security forces, reconstruction, and the fragile peace process.
Abandoning Afghanistan will cost too much for the US. Although the Taliban have signed a peace accord with the United States, majority Afghans are skeptical about the future and sustainability of this accord and the Taliban’s aggressive offensive (despite an agreement to decrease violence”) is another backlash to the so-called peace accord with the Taliban. ISIS is still around and has powerful bases and hide-outs in eastern Afghanistan.
The reduction of aid will hit hard Afghanistan and Afghan citizens; not its leadership. Unfortunately Afghans and Afghanistan, both suffer from the apathy and rivalries of their political leadership and pay the price for the impasse of its arrogant leaders.