The speed by which the Taliban has taken over Afghanistan following the US’s troops departure has taken the international community by surprise. While, few were doubting the re-emergence of the Taliban in leading Afghanistan following the departure of US troops from the country, the international community is in shock and will be seeking answers to the latest developments taking place. Many questions abound. Will the Taliban harbour terrorists? Will Afghanistan be a threat to the West? How will other powers, mainly China and Russia, be interpreting the US ‘commitment’ in Afghanistan?
The diplomatic world has already been set in motion. The UN Security Council has called for an urgent meeting, while the EU’s Political and Security Committee will be meeting today as well, with plans for a Foreign Affairs meeting being finalised.
Afghanistan’s dramatic fall has drawn parallels with the fall of Saigon in the 1970s. While the fall of Saigon was triggered by the advancement of North Vietnamese troops, and embassy staff had to be evacuated by helicopters, the evacuation of the US embassy was triggered by the advancement of the Taliban after the departure of US troops.
This is being interpreted by many in the international community as an epic US foreign policy failure. After having spent billions of dollars, countless deaths on both sides over 20 years, the US seemed not to have achieved anything despite the flurry of comments from the US administration.
There are many lessons to be drawn from this 20-year experience.
First – no foreign power has ever managed to conquer Afghanistan. It’s mountainous terrain and the tribal dynamics make it very difficult for any foreign power to rule supreme. Russia has a 10-year bitter experience.
Secondly – Pakistan’s role in Afghan affairs needs to be investigated thoroughly. There should be consequences for Pakistani Agencies who somewhat undermined the international community.
Thirdly – It is immoral and unethical for a foreign power to engage militarily, impose its system and then leave the country to fend for itself. Many Afghans hoped that their country would one day be stable, and a place where the taste of freedom is secured and enjoyed forever. Additionally, it is unethical to engage locals then leave them at their mercy where their livelihoods could be threatened.
Fourth – The Afghanistan issue will be studied for years to come, both in terms of its epic failure and the supposed ‘commitment’ of US foreign policy.
The Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, the military disappeared in a whiff, while the Taliban have installed themselves in the Presidential Palace. It is no longer the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan; the world would have to face the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan as from now.
There will be reverberations across the globe with a spell of diplomatic activity. It all depends now on how the Taliban will act.
The question remains: will the international community ever learn?