World A Cruel and Unjust Peace for Afghanistan | Opinion
Pakistan hosts US, Russia, China for talks on Afghanistan
ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan on Thursday hosted talks with special envoys from the United States, Russia and China on the path forward for Afghanistan, where a deepening humanitarian crisis has forced many Afghans to migrate to neighboring countries since the Taliban takeover in August. Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi was also present in Islamabad but he did not attend the meeting, dubbed the “troika plus." Muttaqi will meet with hisAfghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi was also present in Islamabad but he did not attend the meeting, dubbed the “troika plus.
As U.S. and Western forces gear up to depart from Afghanistan, the country's more than 40-year war enters its next phase. This is nothing new for the Afghan people. In the course of a century, they have seen British and Soviet conquerors exit, leaving various would-be kings, power brokers and warlords to fill the vacuum. Through it all, it has been the Afghan people who suffer. Even through continued occupation, America can't save them. Over the past 20 years the U.S.' presence has empowered warlords, enabled political corruption and fueled Taliban-led resistance—actually setting the stage for the war's tragic encore.
Afghanistan: Taliban take over TV station in strategic city
The Taliban have taken over a TV station in Afghanistan's strategic Helmand province, a source at the TV and radio station told CNN Monday, marking the latest of a series of advances by the militant group in the country. © Hoshang Hashimi/AFP/Getty Images An Afghan National Army commando stands guard on top of a vehicle along the road in Enjil district of Herat province on August 1, 2021, as skirmishes between Afghan National Army and Taliban continues. The Helmand TV station, located in the city of Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, is operated by state-run Radio and Television Afghanistan.
As it stands, the Kabul government and its security forces are crumbling due to motivational mismatch—not a withdrawal of American soldiers. Afghan soldiers and police primarily fight for pay, while the Taliban claim to fight for national liberation, and the warlords' militiamen purportedly defend their ethnic enclaves. Facing an uncertain future, coupled with the collapsing and kleptocratic Kabul government's inability to consistently pay its troops, some Afghan army units are simply evaporating. Meanwhile, the Taliban seemingly rise like water from the ground rather than one large and powerful wave.
Exclusive: Russia Lays Out Path to Stabilize Afghanistan, Avoid Another 9/11
Senior Foreign Policy Writer Tom O'Connor conducted an exclusive interview in Moscow on Tuesday with Russian special representative for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov.Q: In the broader terms of Russia's approach to Afghanistan, what are its best hopes for the country right now and its greatest concerns as it relates to the current situation?
The U.S.-constructed Afghan house of cards is finally facing its inevitable collapse. As this next phase of Afghanistan's tragedy begins, there's a visible percolation of deals between the Taliban and various warlords to control the region even as our troops roam the streets. Afghans are telling me that leaders like Rashid Dostum, Salahuddin Rabbani, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Karim Khalili—warlords often aligned with Washington for the last two decades—are now negotiating with the Taliban. These men have managed to maintain power inside their ethnic enclaves and communities for over 30 years while America raged a war on their soil. Many are also accused war criminals and chief drug lords. These paramilitary powerbrokers have deep ties to the CIA—some dating back to the 1980s anti-Soviet insurgency. And as the warlords maneuver to hold control, so too will U.S. powers, effectively keeping an eye and occupation in the region. This leaves President Ashraf Ghani's government on the outside looking in, as warlords and the Taliban divide Afghanistan's political and military spoils and the U.S. continues to conspire with or without troops.
Afghanistan study commission can show Americans what was done in their name
The U.S. congress wants to get to the bottom of the Afghanistan debacle. © Getty Images afghanistan war Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate have introduced bills to establish a non-partisan commission to report to the public on the mistakes made by the four presidential administrations that fought the war. The bills vary in details, such as the number of commissioners and the term of the commission, but the intent is clear: to force a public examination of how and why the U.S. project in Afghanistan failed. The commission will be expensive.
It is worth remembering the Taliban's last rise to power in the 1990s to understand what may happen soon. I have often asked Afghans how the Taliban took control so quickly and seemingly efficiently 25 years ago. Their replies were usually singular: the Pakistani rupee. While they did fight and win militarily, the Taliban just as frequently bought out their adversaries and purchased local loyalty. In fact, the Taliban still receive some support from Pakistan. Islamabad prefers stability in its neighbor through the dissemination of power. Such a policy shift reflects the blowback cost to Pakistan in its decades-long desire to control Afghanistan: boomeranging violence, homegrown terror groups, millions of refugees, plus narcotics trafficking and addiction. The same goes for Iranian, Russian andmachinations in Afghanistan.
In all likelihood, Afghan warlords will continue to control their Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara ethnic regions, and the Taliban will rule their traditional Pashtun regions—with tenuous understandings brokered in more mixed areas.
The US was doomed in Afghanistan and will repeat mistakes if it doesn't learn from them, top watchdog warns
"Don't believe what you're told by the generals or people in the administration saying we're never going to do this again," John Sopko said Thursday.John Sopko, who has been the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction since July 2012, told reporters at a Defense Writers Group event that the US repeatedly "moved the goalposts" for success in Afghanistan and "kicked the can down the road" in the face of obstacles or failures.
Ghani and his supporters will be the ones to pay the steepest price, as the Taliban will want something to show for their long and hard-won victory. Many in the government will lose their lives, while far more will be forced to flee. Thousands of everyday Afghans—like the interpreters who served with Western forces—having believed the promises, myths and lies spun by the U.S. occupation, will face much greater danger.
Continued combat will only engender the inevitable unintended consequences of war and beget greater violence. Both foreign and local attempts to achieve peace through war have reaped unimaginable suffering for Afghans and caused continuous region-wide instability. In the 1980s, American designs and desires for "victory" in Afghanistan actually fostered the rise of international terror groups—which consequently fueled the disastrous post-9/11 global war on terror.
Violence will not work and has never proven a lasting Afghan answer. At best, the Taliban-warlord deals of convenience and cynicism will produce fleeting—if merciful—ceasefires, offering ever-so-brief windows for stability and potential progress. What likely lays ahead is, in effect, a cruel and unjust peace.
Matthew Hoh is a senior fellow with the Center for International Policy and a member of the Eisenhower Media Network (EMN). He is a 100 percent disabled Marine combat veteran, and in 2009, he resigned his position with the State Department in Afghanistan in protest of the escalation of the war.
The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.
EXPLAINER: What happened to the Afghanistan evacuation? .
WASHINGTON (AP) — The evacuation of American citizens and others from Afghanistan didn’t end with the departure of the last U.S. troops on Aug. 30, but it did slow to a trickle. The U.S. airlifted 124,000 people from Kabul, the capital, over about six weeks as the American-backed Afghan military and government fell to the Taliban. Since then, several thousand people have managed to get out, mostly on flights arranged by the State Department or private groups and individuals. That includes some high-profile efforts, such as the Nov. 18 flight chartered by reality TV star Kim Kardashian West for members of Afghanistan’s women’s youth development soccer team and their families.