Afghan tragedy: On the second coming of the Taliban

The Taliban are on the verge of re-establishing their murderous regime

What altered the balance of power in the battlefield was the withdrawal of the U.S.-led international forces. While the U.S.-Taliban agreement in February 2020 legitimised the jihadists, the American withdrawal gave them a sense of victory. At no point in talks with the Taliban did the U.S. manage to extract concessions towards a political settlement in Afghanistan. The American focus was on taking its troops out unharmed, and the Taliban stayed away from targeting Americans even when they continued an assassination campaign inside the country. On the other side, the U.S. withdrawal has left the Afghan government, internally divided and lacking support in rural areas, devoid of its most critical advantage in the war — air support. Overstretched across the cities that were under siege for weeks, their defences crumbled like a sandcastle when the Taliban pressed on. The government of President Ashraf Ghani has long tried to ignore the former warlords in an attempt to shore up the national army. But when the national forces failed to defend the cities, Mr. Ghani turned to the ethnic leaders, but it is now too late as the Taliban are already at the gates of Kabul. The Taliban, like in the 1990s, promise stability and security. But the tragedy is that if they take Kabul, Afghanistan’s nearly 40 million population would be subjected, once again, to one of the most barbaric forms of religious totalitarianism. Whatever limited progress and freedoms the Afghans earned over the last 20 years are now at risk of being surrendered to a murderous militia with scant regard for human rights.

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