Saturday, April 1, 2023

Apportioning responsibility in Afghanistan: The case for continuing US assistance

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Mustafa Aryan is a researcher with an MA in international security studies and another MA degree in the international relations. He has around 10 years of work experience in governmental and non-governmental organizations in Afghanistan and in the UK. During his master’s studies in the UK, he was a Masters Ambassador and also received the Red Award. He also received several appreciation letters from different organizations for his achievements. Mustafa is interested in peace, security, great power politics, and intelligence studies.

When the Soviet Union withdrew its troops from Afghanistan in 1989, the then government of Afghanistan crumbled. Now, the same is being speculated in case of the American withdrawal, that if the US withdraws its troop completely from Afghanistan, the current government of Afghanistan will collapse. If we review the years between 1988 -1992, it is clear that neither Dr. Najib’s regime was toppled after the Soviet Union’s troop withdrawal nor the current government would collapse with the US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

It was argued that following the Soviet troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, Dr. Najib’s regime would collapse in few days, but the government continued to rule the country for three straight years. There were a couple of reasons why Dr. Najib’s regime did not collapse immediately: one of the main reasons was the Soviet Union’s continued cooperation with the then-Afghan government.

From early 1989 – late 1991, every month, Soviet Union provided $300 million to Dr. Najib’s regime. This assistance helped the Afghan government to fight against the Mujahideen for a couple of years. But, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the country collapsed, and post-Soviet Russia stopped to assistance to the then Afghan government.

On the other hand, US stopped providing assistance to the Mujahideen.

This made Dr. Najib resign and seek asylum at the UN office in Kabul. With the resignation of Dr. Najib, the Mujahideen took the power followed by a civil war started.

The Soviet Union had entered Afghanistan without any agreement of the then government of Afghanistan, but the US has entered Afghanistan based on an agreement of the UN to fight terrorism; therefore, the US would like to responsibly withdraw its troops from Afghanistan.

The US will never repeat the mistake the then Soviet Union made by withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.  It is only after the withdrawal of its assistance to Dr. Najib’s regime Afghanistan became a den of terrorist groups particularly Al Qaeda. Now, if the US leaves Afghanistan as Russians did in the 1990s, we can say that more terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda, Daesh and others will start operating in Afghanistan and could pose serious threats to the region and world.

I think not only the US but the whole world needs to take responsibility in finding a solution for Afghanistan’s current dispute as the security in the country depends on the security and stability of the whole world. Three years back when the US started negotiations led by Zalmay Khalilzad with the Taliban, the group agreed on all issues which are important for the US government. What is most important in negotiations between the US and the Taliban is that Afghan soil won’t be used against the US. A question is now created when the Taliban and the US agreed on all issues, why they do not reach a final agreement or conclusion?

As pointed earlier in the article, the US needs to take responsibility to find a solution for Afghanistan’s current challenge. In non-circumstances, Afghanistan should once again become a hub for international terrorists. The Afghan soil has been always used for the interests of different competing powers and in the end, only Afghans are the victims of this war on terror. Afghan security forces have bravely fought international terrorism now and are ready to defend the country after the US troop withdrawal.

The continued support to Afghan National Defence and Security Forces is not meant for narrow domestic interests but also combating international terrorism. Therefore, it shall be the responsibility of the US to continue its cooperation with ANDSF.

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