The Kabul Conquest: Warning Bells for an Ailing Republic- Gideon Adeniji

The world woke up to the shocking, but somewhat anticipated news, of the return of the Taliban to Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, after an approximate ten days assault on various towns and regions of the country and a steady advancement towards the country’s capital. For the Taliban and her foot-soldiers, it was a long awaited return, after their swift defeat to American troops in 2001, following the Osama Bin Laden led Al-qaeda attack on the World Trade Centre in New York, United States.

As a way of giving some historical background of the Taliban, it is pertinent to note that this militia force was made up of a group of fighters referred to as the ‘mujahideen’, established to fight Soviet Forces in Afghanistan as far back as the 80’s, especially after the 1979 war led by one Mohammed Omar, the mujahideen fought for influence and territory in Afghanistan, as a party in the civil war that broke out in the country in 1994. By 1996, the Talibans seized control of Afghanistan and imposed strict laws based on the provisions of Sharia which gravely undermined the freedom and liberty of women and children in the country, especially in terms of education, freedom of speech and association and political rights. They held sway until 2001 when the United States displaced them from government, based on allegations of complicity in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the twin buildings of the World Trade Centre, by the alleged habouring the main suspect and leader of the Al-Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden.

Since 2001, the Taliban maintained a constant state of insurgency in Afghanistan in an attempt to oust US troops from the country and regain their claims to power. In 2018, the United States, under the Trump Administration, signed a peaceful deal process with the Taliban which included agreements about the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and prevention of terrorist groups by the Taliban to hold sway in Afghanistanthereafter. In compliance with the agreement process, the Biden Administration continued with the rapid withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, which he claimed ought to have been wrapped up since May 1st, 2021.

A day before the eventual collapse of Kabul’s administrative structure, the American backed President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, who has been accused of running a corrupt government, fled to the United Arab Emirates to seek asylum, while his country fell under the heavy assault of the Taliban. In line with this, was the rapid and easy surrender of Afghan military forces to the incursive Taliban forces with little resistance; a fact which still leaves many political and diplomatic analysts in shock and void of adequate explanation for such lack of will power to defend their freedom and liberty.

Since the unfortunate event, the Biden Administration has come under heavy criticism for what many political analysts call a “betrayal of the Afghan people”. In a swift response, President Joe Biden gave an address at the White House two days after the Taliban fighters took over, to defend his administration’s decisions. He made it clear that America’s goal in the invasion of Afghanistan was never for the sake of nation building, but to prevent the use of the country as a base for terrorist operations such as Al-qaeda and ISIS which was the case during the events that led up to the September 11 attacks on United States, adding that it had been achieved a decade ago. He further explained that despite America’s non obligation towards nation building in Afghanistan, the US has left nothing to chance in ensuring the Afghani government lacked nothing in the provision of financial and human support in helping to build a stable government, training Afghanistan Security Forces and providing them with adequate weapons and resources, running to the tune of Trillions in American dollars.

While the explanation provided by the United State sounds logical if what they claimed as their set goals were actually what they followed through with, based on the reality of “national interest” as the governing propensity in the conduct of foreign policy among nations, we still need to admit that Afghanistan still served some benefit to the United States in terms of economic utility and trade. There are reports of how the United States government benefitted in the opium and heroin trade in Afghanistan, which was basically controlled by the Taliban. Hence, they should not paint a picture of Afghanistan being the sole beneficiary in their diplomatic relationship which spanned two decades. The Taliban has also enjoyed American patronage in the past, especially with regards to their fight against Soviet occupation of the country till 1989, creating room for questions if there is more to what meets the eye in the sudden disintegration of Afghani central government. However, it would be inhuman to sacrifice the lives of American troops who have families awaiting their return back home, in an unnecessary war that could have been avoided all together.

On the part of the Afghans, the extent of corruption and over-reliance on foreign help was laid bare, with the events that unfolded these past few days. Scathing reports have emerged as to how the government looted billions of dollars provided in aid by the United States government and the lack of discipline among Afghan military forces during the twenty years occupation of country by the United States. It was obvious that the Afghani central government wallowed in the illusion of an unwavering and permanent American support, creating a lackluster and complacent disposition in sitting up to the reality of forging a formidable and independent State that could conveniently cater for the needs of her citizens. The heart wrenching pictures and videos of Afghani citizens jostling in frenzy and unbridled agitation to escape the reality of a return to authoritarianism by the Taliban, could not but evoke sympathy in the hearts of not a few, marked by an imagery of a people betrayed by their government. It is this very point that leads me to the next issue we would like to talk about.

With the fall of Kabul, one cannot but ponder on the present security situation in Nigeria; a Republic that has become sickened and exhausted from the incessant war on insurgency, banditry and criminalities of its caliber. The Afghanistan experience should be a lesson to or ruling elite of how corruption can crumble the grandest administrative structure like a pack of cards. The politicization of the fight against insurgency and looting of monies and resources meant to improve the welfare of our troops at the battlefront, can translate to a similar state of affairs of what is happening presently in Afghanistan and could even be worse off, if our public servantsdo not live up to expectations.

The second tendency that needs to be addressed is the penchant for Nigerian citizens to immediately call on international bodies or countries to intervene in perceived political or social injustices being meted on citizens by government. The #EndSars event of October 2020 is an accurate reference point. We often bask in the illusion that foreign powers have our true interest at heart and will try to prevent such situations from getting out of hand. Well, sorry to disappoint you. No country has a permanent ally or foe, but only permanent interest. If we like, let the country burn to ashes, world powers will not interfere if they have nothing to benefit from the whole scheme of things.

The question that should keep ringing in our minds as Nigerians now should be ‘What if these Insurgents eventually override Nigeria’s sovereignty?’, ‘What is the fate of a people under radical fundamentalist Islamic groups bent on establishing an Islamic state that will gravely undermine human rights?’ We should never be under the illusion that it can never happen to us. The only way to prevent such a sad tale is to become proactiveand do the needful in securing our sovereign integrity.


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