War in Afghanistan is over. Taliban wrested back the power from withdrawing Americans. Their fleeing from Afghanistan has similarities galore and these are not limited to withdrawing Americans boarding helicopters this time from Airport roof in place of Embassy roof in Saigon. But more pertinent similarity and which is important is that their withdrawal has left behind a unified country. At no time in their rule from 1996 to 2001, Taliban had ruled over whole of Afghanistan with parts of Northern Afghanistan remained outside their rule. During last two decades varying magnitude of countryside had remained outside the control of US imposed regime in Kabul. But US imperialists are leaving behind a united Afghanistan albeit under Taliban rule. And this is no accident. People of Afghanistan have no liking for the collaborators of foreign occupying power. Whatever base the northern warlords had had, was undermined due to their collaboration with US imperialism.
US defeat in Afghanistan has broad similarity with the defeat of the then USSR in Afghanistan. However, there is a vital difference that the regime supported by the then USSR lasted more than three years after their withdrawal and Najibullah Govt.’s defeat was hastened due to cut-off of military supplies and economic aid by Yeltsin Govt. in Russia. This difference is accounted for by the befriending of Northern warlords by the then Soviet rulers and carving out some division among Pashtuns. US occupation on the other hand, was a pure colonial exercise reminiscent of civilizing mission of old colonialists. In the name of Nation Building, they foisted their agents who had no roots among Afghan people, the President who fled, Ashraf Ghani, having been a World Bank employee who was parachuted to Presidential Palace in Kabul. Drunk in their power in the then uni-polar world, US rulers thought they could do whatever they wanted and invaded first Afghanistan and then Iraq. First Iraq showed them the limit of such power and now Afghanistan has given a big blow to that. Let it be clear that US occupation of Afghanistan had nothing to do with any nation building but was solely to militarily occupy this strategic centre of Asia to secure their world hegemony. And this lies in tatters. US Admn. is now focused at containment of China whom they consider their main rival. Defeat in Afghanistan has damaged their contain China strategy but that is focused on maritime trade routes at present.
While Taliban’s victory was a foregone conclusion except to the mandarins in South Block in New Delhi who hoped against hope that there would be a war between Army trained by foreign powers and Taliban, the speed of this victory has come as surprise to many. The Army hired and ‘trained’ by foreign powers gave up without a fight. The collapse of Afghan Army is characterized by fleeing of US foisted President Ashraf Ghani who with his close aides fled the country. Taliban could storm into capital Kabul at their will and they chose to do that early. It is clear that they would not impede withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan and attack withdrawing forces. They could delay their conquest of Kabul till all the US forces withdrew. However, they considered that if they allow US and its allies’ forces to withdraw when they are in power they would send a stronger signal of their ‘peaceful’ intent. And the message is not lost despite cacophony of propaganda in the mainstream media and its dutiful reproduction in mainstream Indian media. In fact the reported fire in US embassy was due to burning of documents by them. Of 7 persons who died at Kabul airport some were by US forces to clear the air strip while 3 hang onto aircraft and died after a fall.
The world must recognize the new Govt. is Afghanistan as they fulfill the only recognized criterion for such recognition i.e. effective control over the country. Taliban do have that. They are a number of right reactionary regimes in the world; there is a plethora of ‘unelected’ Govts. in the world but that has not prevented their recognition. There is no civil war as feared, nay hoped, by some. In fact many countries have positively reacted to Taliban ascent to power. Russia has almost welcomed it while Pakistan did not hide its glee. Even Iran has accorded a guarded welcome while China has also proposed to work with them while also blaming ‘hasty’ US withdrawal for the chaos. Other neighbouring countries have also expressed their intent to work with Taliban Govt. Even the European Union’s reaction has been cautious asking Taliban to maintain peace and respect human rights.
In our last comment (July 10, 2021) we had noted that return of Taliban to power may also witness “some differences from its earlier rule.” These differences will be two fold. Firstly they would like peace with neighbouring countries and would like to avoid international isolation. They have already assured Russia and China of that. UN mission in Afghanistan Chief already talked of continuing of their mission as they already getting cooperation from Taliban. However, their victory will embolden certain forces in the neighbouring countries even if they do not allow use of their territory. Domestically, they would proclaim Islamic Emirate and impose Sharia and would curtail rights of women. But they cannot “erase everything of the recent past.”
However, there is a serious concern about the rights of women, rights of minorities including religious minorities and for the people’s rights under Taliban regime. These concerns are based on reports of attacks by Taliban units. There must be greater support for the people’s rights in Afghanistan. Progressive and democratic forces must support Afghan people in their struggle against regressive policies of Taliban.
Rulers of India had tied themselves to the apron strings of US imperialism in Afghanistan and had supported military occupation of Afghanistan shamelessly betraying Indian people’s own anti-colonial traditions. Moreover, they have viewed Afghanistan from the prism of relations with Pakistan. Despite historic relations between people of India and Afghanistan they have refused to take cognizance of the aspirations of Afghan people. This must be opposed.
CPI (ML)-New Democracy
August 16, 2021