As an old proverb “threat to death so to make content at least to cancer” nowadays the Taliban use this strategy to ease their return to power; the Taliban put pressure on Afghanistani citizens by horrifying them a situation when millions still remember the dark era of that regime full of terror and horror of primitive on-field persecutions based on Sharia Law that imposed many restrictions on women and ethnic/religious minorities in Afghanistan.
The ultimate increase of suicide attacks carried out by the Taliban in Kabul, especially targeting the Hazara ethnic as a defenseless group (their schools, their wedding halls, their cultural centers, their public gatherings), affirms the fact that this terrorist group is very serious in its intention to challenge not only the Afghan Government they consider illegitimate (and a US puppet), but also their Intentional supporters and all foreign troops that are deployed to Afghanistan since 2001.
While the people of Afghanistan have to be returning back to the zero-point (the point they were under same Taliban’s regime until 2001). After almost two decades of war, destruction they faced and the many sacrifices they made for a bunch of relatively positive changes that were brought in the post-Taliban era during these years, everything seem to be lost in an overnight decision when the negotiations with the Taliban is heard to be almost finalized. The nightmare of the most people in these nights is to lose the basic freedoms and rights they obtained in post-Taliban era in their country; (right to study, freedom of expression, right to vote, rights of demonstrations, right of social participations, and right for women to work and study).
The main mission of the International Community and the major western countries that was to bring peace and stability and sustain the emerging democracy and progress, is already failed in Afghanistan; it has reached to its dead-end due to confusion, lack of the International Community’s interest and lack of a clear strategy and willing to fight seriously the terrorists, to bring a happy-ending to the long war in Afghanistan.
Bad for the families of thousands of US and European soldiers, who were killed in Afghanistan with the dream of helping the Afghanistani people bring peace in their country, if now that dream seems to be impossible when their politicians (especially the US) deal with the terrorists who shed their blood.
Now the Trump Administration wants to use at any cost, the “Safe Return Home from Afghanistan” as the only winning card to get the consent of the US voters for the 2020 Presidential Elections, while this administration is failed in its all other International Affair and deals, such as Iran Nuclear Crisis, North Korea Nuclear Crisis, Israeli-Palestinian Crisis in addition to newly created Commercial War with China.
Back in 2001 along with huge media propaganda, the International Community under the US leadership began a war on Afghanistan with the title “Enduring Freedom” to eradicate the Taliban as a terrorist group that was threatening the whole world; and the Taliban were overthrown but not fully on that time. However the people of Afghanistan embraced the International Community’s intervention in their country hoping for peace and stability but nowadays after 18 years of suffering, their dream for peace and stability had never come true, instead they’ve been facing bloodshed, terror and insecurity more and more as time passed.
Nowadays while the Taliban are still playing the same role; they are moving ahead their terror machine in the country, killing civilians, destroying schools, hospitals, mosques and roads as they did years back, their status of “being terrorists” have changed into “being simply rebels” that’s why they are not only being forgiven by the same International Community that began a war against them 18 years back, but also given incentives and rewards for promoting terror and killings, that’s why people of Afghanistan are confused with the International Community’s double-role policies in Afghanistan.
The definition of the word “Terrorist” remains still the same in any dictionary (a person who uses unlawful violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims) that is what exactly the Taliban still do on daily basis in different corners of the country, but they enjoy immunities against any kind of trial or prosecution for the crimes against humanity they commit.
Now the main question that rises in people’s mind is “what is really behind Taliban that has made them a precious object of interest for all parties involved in Afghanistan including some neighbouring countries and everyone makes a race to make a deal with the Taliban first?”
Taliban leaders, who were the remains of the cold war radical fighters, gave birth to a younger generation as a movement in the lap of Pakistani Inelegance Services as a Fundamentalist Islamic Student Movement to fill the power vacuum in Afghanistan during the early 1990s after the civil war broke among the Mujahedeen groups. Taliban soldiers were the young men born and raised in poverty, ignorance and deprivation from enough livelihoods who sought their desires in an imaginary world of hereafter thus they were ready to do anything for their believes; even to kill themselves for their imaginary paradise that their Islam promised them. In a mixture of tribal traditions and misinterpretation of the Koran, these young men became followers of a new way of religious radicalism. While their leaders who issued the Fatwa from their luxurious lounges in Quetta or Waziristan of Pakistan supported financially by the Saudis, their soldiers became a destructive force who could change the formula of war in Afghanistan, it was then when they took all over Afghanistan in a few months in1994.
In the beginning, they were believed to be the doves of peace that could save Afghanistan from the hands of the civil war fighters. As they got more powerful and took control of almost all over Afghanistan, they created their government in the form of Emirate, based on the Islamic history of fourteen centuries back. A lot of people still believe that the Taliban were somehow directly or indirectly created by the USA through the helps of the Saudi Arabia and Pakistan as a force to take all over Afghanistan and help the passage of the famous multibillion UNOCAL pipeline for the oil and gas from Turkmenistan to India through Afghanistan and Pakistan that’s lately known as TAPI. The Taliban who emerged as Terrorist group in the first months of their presence in Kabul, were somehow tolerated or accepted by the USA, because of this precious pipeline deal but then they were overthrown by the USA for other reasons.
Despite almost two decades of war against them, currently the Taliban are returning back on power with more enthusiasm and high spirits because in the national level, they have the support of the Pashtun leaders within the Afghan government including the former president Hamid Karzai and the current one Ashraf Ghani who is an ethnocentric Pashtun leader (instead of being the president of the whole country) and who supports the Taliban based on the ethnic ties; Taliban are prominently Pashtun and based on the codes of ethic among Pashtuns (Pashtunwali), a brother does not hurt or kill another brother. Therefore, since Ashraf Ghani’s presidency, the Taliban have been overtaking almost 65 percent of the Afghanistan territory without any obstacles on their way; they are guaranteed safety on battlefields; the soldiers of the (ANA) Afghan National Army in most cases do not have permission to open fire on Taliban; the other end of the chain of command in the army is now tied directly to the decision of the president as the Chief of Command. In some other cases the ANA soldiers are not provided with enough arms and ammunitions to fight the Taliban on battlefields, while the Taliban are fully armed, so the ANA soldiers are always put in a defensive position instead of being offensive, thus the casualties of the Afghan National Army soldiers have reached to 45,000 only during Ashraf Ghani’s presidency from 2014 to 2019, most of whom belong to the other ethnicities than Pashtun.
In some cases it’s reported that the Taliban who’ve captured the ANA soldiers on battlefields, they released the Pashtun ones and killed other ethnicities on the spot, there are videos of such horrible scenes available on YouTube and other media channels. Despite all cruelty by Taliban, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, releases continuously these terrorists from prisons in any special occasions such as New Year or any religious feasts, without any trials.
In the international level, the Pashtun lobby influencers are so active and during these years, they have been successful to soften the International opinion about the Taliban by brining them forgiveness for their war crimes; they present the Taliban as “armed rebel group” that fight for the freedom of Afghanistan from the hands of westerners, instead of naming them terrorists that kill innocent civilians and destroy infrastructures of the country continuously.
Granting the status of the “Rebels” instead of “Terrorists” to the Taliban (who are actually terrorists by any definition) was a process that took a few years (starting circa from 2012 and still continues until nowadays), initiated first by the then President Hamid Karzai who named Taliban as his “Unsatisfied Brothers” and then continued by the hard work of the other Pashtun lobbying influencers in the USA such as Zalmay Khalilzad (senior Afghan born American diplomat with Pashtun background), Anwar ul Haq Ahadi, Ali Ahmad Jalali and Omar Zakhilwal (all with Pashtun background and US or Canadian citizenships) and promoting by the national and international media through the efforts of these influencers to soften the image of the Taliban in the international level that guaranteed them a “sanctuary for forgiveness” in the public opinion despite continuation of their war crimes against humanity all through the years after their fall in 2001.
Since the US intervention in Afghanistan, additional challenges emerged from the neighboring countries such as Russia that was waiting for an opportunity to revenge the USA for its defeat in Afghanistan in the past. The Russians got the chance to get close to the Taliban, who were overthrown by the USA and were against the USA, and supported the Taliban. Iran on the other hand, as the other neighboring country began supporting the Taliban with arms and logistics to fight its own war against the USA. In this case, Taliban became an object of interest for different parties in Afghanistan, Chinese as well, began their own secret talks with the Taliban.
The second move towards Taliban’s legitimization was made by the Afghan Government lead by Karzai and continued by Ghani in 2013-2014 when the Taliban leaders and commanders were given immunity, houses, offices and cash incentives in Kabul under the name of the Afghan Peace Process Scheme. Then their resistance on battlefields got stronger. In this project the International Community including European Union had contributed financially to the incentives to the Taliban leaders and commanders.
Then requests were made officially by the Afghan Government to remove the Taliban senior leaders from the US blacklists and sanctions.
Then the Qatari Kingdom, who was and still is boasting for its competition with the Saudi Arabia in the region entered into this game to play an important role in the Taliban war, the Qatari monarchy gave the Taliban an office in its capital Doha in 2013 that now plays the role of their political representation office or (a kind of Taliban’s Embassy) then Taliban’s position got stronger and they began using both diplomatic lobbying through their office in Doha along with military attacks on fields in Afghanistan to put more pressure on countries involved in Afghanistan.
With all these attention, importance and care given to the Taliban, it’s obvious that they felt to be a shining gold and an object of interest for different parties; they began fighting fiercer than before and demanded greater things as the game of war in Afghanistan got more complicated.
As the Taliban Group got stronger than the Afghan Government, different talks have been organized with them to bring them onto peace process tables; such as talks in Pakistan, talks in Qatar and talks in Moscow and their representatives have visited China and Uzbekistan as well, but none of these talks have been clear to the people of Afghanistan so far. What is still an enigma for the Afghanistani people, what the USA was after, when it attacked the Taliban as “Terrorists” back in 2001 if now after 18 years of war they make secret deals with the same Taliban who are still “Terrorists”? The other question that still remains unanswered is, “What will happen to the promises the USA made to Afghanistan when the two countries signed a Long Term Strategic Partnership and Security Treatment after 2014 elections in Afghanistan, which compels the USA to defend and support Afghanistani forces in case of need while the ANA has never been in need such as now.
In the middle confusion and delusion, there are different losers in this game if the Taliban make their return on power again; women, ethnic and religious minorities such as the Hazaras, The Hindus and Sikhs, Civil Society, and of course the USA and its International partners who have spent trillions of dollars and given many lives in this blind war, will be the obvious losers.