ISSN 2674-8053

Afghanistan at a crossroads: scenarios

So it is…the Taliban owns the power in Afghanistan, and there's not much the world can do until the situation in the country is clearer.. The circle whose trace began in December is closed. 1991 when the troops of "Enduring Freedom" and the "International Security Force" (ISAF), da him, American-led, entered Kabul and expelled the group to inhospitable rural areas in the Afghan provinces, who entered, So, in hiding, but it was never wiped out. After twenty years, it is back to "ground zero": they went… and came back…

In the meantime, Afghan society has changed., who started to live with a certain security and freedom, especially when it comes to women, and with a sense of "normality", run by a fragile government, by Western troops and what was thought to be the Afghan army trained by them.

The resurgence of Taliban militancy prompted former President Donald Trump to step up his campaign promise of “bring the American troops home”. Deadly enemies sat at the negotiating table in Doha, in Qatar, in the search for a solution that would be minimally honorable to Americans/Westerns: exercise of “real politik” or pre-confession of defeat? At this table sat not only the Americans, but also delegates from Russia, China and Pakistan, as witnesses. The UN was also invited to participate. Only the then President of Afghanistan was not invited, Ashraf Ghani, in a clear demonstration of the impotence of the elected government of Kabul.

Ghani never accepted the terms of the “Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan”, that the negotiators - Americans and Taliban – concluded in 29/02/20, whose terms, analyzed nowadays, seemed doomed to noncompliance. Between them, from the americans: 1) the withdrawal of American and Allied troops, including civilians who provided services to the occupants., within up to 14 months after the announcement of the agreement; 2) the exchange of about 5 a thousand prisoners held by the Taliban by about a thousand Westerners, until March 2020; 3) the removal of sanctions imposed against members of the Taliban; e 4) US engagement in negotiations with the UN Security Council in the same direction.

from the Taliban, who identified themselves in the document as "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan which is not recognized by the United States as a state and is known as the Taliban", the commitments were from: 1) do not allow any of its members, individuals or groups – including al Qaeda, explicitly named – use Afghan soil to threaten the security of the United States and its allies: 2) prevent its members from cooperating with other groups that threaten the security of the United States/allies, including with regard to recruitment, training and financing of its activities; e 3) not providing visas, passports, travel documents or any other legal instrument to individuals who may threaten the security of the United States/Allies.

at your end, the document states that “the United States and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan will strive for a positive relationship (“seek positive relations”) between the US and the institutionalized government in Kabul (“the new post-settlement Afghan Islamic government”), to be defined in negotiations between the Afghans themselves. (“the intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiations”).

That is, a repertoire of "good intentions" that so far have not materialized, even because the chaos the country is experiencing does not allow any negotiation strategy to be drawn, or even prediction about its future But, for the importance and sensitivity of the issue, it is worth trying to outline some scenarios, although absolutely provisional.

Let's first turn to the history and characteristics of the Afghan civilization. From an internal point of view, the first relevant lesson, fundamental even, as tautological as it may seem, is that Afghanistan is a very old civilization; already existed as a Persian satrapy when Alexander III of Macedonia, the big, walked around the region and founded, in 334 AEC, Balhk, one of their most advanced outposts in Asia Minor. The population still retains physical traces of the ancient Greeks to this day.. this same population, of equally ancestral habits, it consists of a large cast of ethnicities and tribes that resulted from the occupation of invaders of various origins – Persian, greeks, Mongolians, etc. - what inseminates, both in genetics and in deep-rooted traditions., values ​​and concepts, which each defends "erga omnes". The constitution of 2004 and the Afghan national anthem nominally list fourteen, among which the most representative: pashtun, beluchis, hazaras, Turkmen and Tajiks.

These ethnicities and tribes, that are divided between the Sunni and Shiite currents of Islam – 90% Sunnis and 10% Shiites, roughly – do not accept the preponderance of any other over themselves, however large it is numerically. About, is the biggest among them, a pashtun, sunita (near 20% of the ethnographic mesh), that the Taliban movement emerged in the fight against the Soviet invaders, in the nineties of the last century, and that today makes up the militancy that is in power in Kabul. The question that does not want to remain silent is whether this leadership has the mandate of other ethnic groups to govern on behalf of all. And the answer is NO, although at the moment it is the Pashtun Taliban who are responsible for the entire process..

In fact, the big task they have ahead is precisely to convince other ethnic groups to accept this "status quo", above all the extreme rigidity and orthodoxy of its political concepts, cultural and religious: in short, or mandated by "sharia", the islamic law. Historically, agreements between ethnicities and tribes are reached in the discussions of the assembly of their leaders, a “loya jirga”. It deliberates and enforces the acceptance of its consented decisions, just what, for not having happened so far, it constitutes in the medium and long term the "Achilles heel" of the current "gentlemen of Kabul". This momentary situation reminds us of the disputes between the militias that were fighting against the Soviets in the decade of 1990. Internal pacification is, like this, the first – and huge challenge – of the Taliban leadership. Unless this happens it will not be possible to build a stable Afghanistan.

Add to this already complex dilemma the question that they themselves are divided among various tribes that sprawl across rural provinces and pay allegiance to their "amirs."(”warlords”) places, each with their "vested interests". IT'S, by the way, what is happening right now: while the leadership that occupied Kabul claims to have the strength to maintain the commitment made in the Doha Accords and preserve the physical safety of all who interacted with the Western occupiers, violence against "collaborators" runs rampant. swapping in kids, the task of convincing and consolidating power is herculean for this leadership, and puts on hold any certainty that the Taliban “reign” will last. We have already seen similar film during the Soviet period..

The other – same, if not bigger – challenge for the Taliban is to gain recognition by the international community. Although it was stated in the Doha document that the United States would commit to this effort, in light of the "untimely" manner in which the Taliban onslaught took place, exposing Washington to a Vietnam War-like embarrassment – of tragic memory for the American population -, hardly the US will immediately comply with the agreement. Joe Biden suffered too much embarrassment and his image was too worn to now "sponsor" the election, I think. Let us not forget that in the Taliban-I period (1996-2001) only Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the UAE recognized Kabul's leadership. And international recognition is essential, as we know, so that a State/government can act in a minimally efficient way in the international scenario.

Some governments have signaled that the Taliban's symbolic acceptance and desperately needed financial assistance could come if their leaders show they can respect human rights., how the west understands them. By the way, the varying degrees of welcome by the international community since militants came to power in Kabul illustrate the sharp divisions between US allies and adversaries — a preview of the international dispute as a new and uncertain diplomatic dynamic taking hold over Afghanistan. “The Taliban won the war, so we will have to talk to them”, said Josep Borrell, main diplomat of the European Union, at a press conference. According to him, “it's not a matter of official recognition. It's a matter of dealing with reality". However, the EU decided, per hour, don't do it. French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said in an interview with BFM TV news channel, on the last day 18, that the issue of Taliban recognition “not relevant for France”. The British “Premier”, Boris Johnson, stated, From you, that “it would be a mistake for any country to prematurely recognize any new regime in Kabul, or by bilateral initiative".

The most attentive to this issue are the neighboring countries, concerned about the flow of migrants who will seek refuge in their territories. Many of them are unable – financial or political – to accept them, because they already have a huge number of Afghan refugees. Neighboring Pakistan officially recognizes the existence of 1,4 million of them; however the number is much higher, due to the porous borders between the two and the family ties that the Taliban built at the time they lived there during the Soviet regime.. Iran accounts 780 thousand refugees, with an "aggravating": may have, of addition, religious problems, since the vast majority of its population is from the Shiite current of Islam, and the afghans are sunni. For the entire neighborhood, the spillover of religious radicalization is a serious threat., mainly in the case of Pakistan, whose most orthodox population and intelligence sectors (their) have close ties with the Taliban. And India fears the spread of “terrorism” to the Kashmir region, to this day dependent on a share inherited from British colonialism that jeopardizes the security of all of South Asia, It is known that both she and Pakistan dominate the nuclear energy cycle and have atomic weapons capable of generating a catastrophe of unimaginable dimensions if they fall into radical hands.

Throughout this history, China stands as an alternative for the new power-holders in Afghanistan. The Chinese have already demonstrated that they are willing to interact with the new leadership, that signaled, explicitly, to recognize. As I posted earlier, in day 28 last July a Taliban delegation, headed by its co-founder and so far main leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, met in Tianjin, and China, with none other than Chancellor Wang Yi to address issues of great sensitivity to the Chinese in the political sphere, economic and security. According to the statement from the Chancellery, “the Taliban is a crucial military and political force in Afghanistan and will play an important role in the peace process, reconciliation and reconstruction of the country”, and the People's Republic will lend its support provided that “the Taliban cuts off any connection with the “Islamic Movement of East Turkestan”/ETIM, international terrorist organization listed by the UN Security Council that “represents a direct threat to China's national security and territorial integrity”, as indicated in the same release. Evidently, from “lambuja” comes a crucial territory for the Chinese's “New Silk Road”/BRI projects. It is, sim, is an explicit example of “real politik”.

Who loses – and who wins – throughout this story? It is too early to unravel the "scenes from the next chapters". One thing is right, however: the recurrent wear of the American intelligence sectors - the CIA and its cronies - which, with all the resources at their disposal, did not predict or calculate the speed with which the process unfolded. repeats itself, in afghanistan, the Vietnam scenery, from iraq, from Libya and Syria itself, that is, the central West's inability to understand the “other”, the east, what's he like, and not by the fanciful – and fetishistic – image that insists on preserving a world that, in accelerating transformation, persists in rectifying.

The result – tragic – of all this is the thousands of lives lost… in vain for what we see.

(Leia tambémAfghanistan at the crossroads (II) – o gabinete do governo interino” e “Afghanistan at the crossroads (III) – os talibãs, o EI-K, the Hazaras and China“)

Below I have posted a photo I took of Afghan refugees when I served in Islamabad and Kabul:

Photo by Fausto Godoy – Afghan Refugees
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Doctor of Public International Law in Paris. He entered the diplomatic career in 1976, served in Brussels embassies, Buenos Aires, New Delhi, Washington, Beijing, Tokyo, Islamabade (where he was Ambassador of Brazil, in 2004). He also completed transitional missions in Vietnam and Taiwan. Lived 15 years in Asia, where he guided his career, considering that the continent would be the most important of the century 21 - forecast that, now, sees closer and closer to reality.