Such a country… One of the most dangerous and poorest countries in the world, with the highest level of corruption in the world today, famous for constant war and terror over the last 35 years. At the top of the list for refugees who have had to flee the country in recent decades, and a world leader in opium poppy production, with a 75% market share worldwide. You probably would have guessed that this country is Afghanistan.
When we compare photographs of Afghanistan taken in the 1960s with those from today, we see a huge difference. The country has not only not developed but rather regressed backward, lost in time. One gets the impression of a country swamped in backwardness, poverty, ignorance, wretchedness and fanaticism.
Although the presidential election held on April 5, 2014 was relatively democratic and attracted broad participation, they are far from ushering in the change that Afghanistan needs. The predicament now facing Afghanistan is too complex to be resolved by any of the candidates coming in to replace Hamid Karzai.
Afghanistan’s Tragic Past
Although Afghanistan, which stands on the trade routes between the Middle East and Asia and has a mountainous terrain, may appear to be an insignificant country, it is quite frequently in the news around the globe. The civil war and turmoil that began following the Soviet occupation ended with the Taliban coming to power in 1996. Largely made up of ethnic Pashtuns, the Taliban had adopted a radical doctrine foreign to the essence of Islam. It declared everyone with a different interpretation of Islam from its own to be an enemy, and had no qualms about resorting to violence to implement those views. The policies of the Taliban that violated the moral values of Islam were and are largely aimed against women. Women’s basic rights and liberties are all but eliminated. People who fail to heed their severe prohibitions are punished in various ways, from beatings to torture. Not everyone agreed with the Taliban, and the Northern Alliance, made up of ethnic groups such as Tajiks and Uzbeks and who dominated the northern part of the country, fought against the Taliban.
The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks were a turning point for Afghanistan and the world. All eyes suddenly turned to the Taliban and Afghanistan, which harbored al-Qaeda. The Taliban regime disintegrated against an international military operation led by the USA in October of 2001. That operation had important many objectives such as the total destruction of the sources of terrorism, building democracy and a state of law in Afghanistan, ushering in justice, respect for human rights and freedoms and establishing new institutions to ensure stability in the country. Despite the deaths of tens of thousands of Afghan citizens and thousands of troops over the next 13 years, there was no significant success. Even with the great international support for the Karzai regime, the needed reforms could not be carried out, and allegations of vast corruption plagued the operations and never went away. Moreover, the decision by NATO, which was still responsible to Afghanistan’s security, to abandon the country in 2014 made the situation in there even more unstable.
Mistakes and Consequences
The USA failed to achieve its aim of winning the hearts of the Afghan people and building one nation in Afghanistan. Now that the war is winding down and US troops leaving, there are other worrying developments. The Taliban are regaining the influence they lost, and warlords and drug barons are exploiting instability for their own ends. There are deep state groups that support the fanaticism and are hindering a solution while tensions are increasing among the ethnic and political groups that want to take over the government.
The Taliban are one of the main threats to the future of Afghanistan. Specifically, with their radical ideology, the Taliban and their tendency to use violence leaves a dark cloud over Afghanistan. At the start of the 2001 intervention, the majority of the Afghan people, tired of the repressive Taliban regime, supported the US against the Taliban, and the Taliban had no alternative but to withdraw into the mountainous areas and over the border into Pakistan. The Taliban never disbanded completely and in fact after awhile, it grew in strength again and engaged in terrorist actions such as hit and run suicide attacks. It inflicted severe losses on the soldiers of the Western nations and also began putting pressure on the Afghan people again, demanding money and starting trials and executions in its own so-called courts.
At the present time, there is a Taliban that refuses to speak to the Afghan state in Kabul, while it is officially imposing itself on the USA and Western countries, and taking part in the peace and reconstruction process in Afghanistan by opening offices in various countries. The main reason why the Taliban are becoming a force to reckon with yet again is that American forces in Afghanistan have made a number of mistakes. A large number of innocent Afghans have been martyred in anti-terror operations. Disrespect for Islam, the Qur’an, sacred values and religious leaders have led to a rapid rise of negative feelings toward the USA. Add to that the behind-the-scenes support the Taliban enjoys from various countries and it is easy to understand why and how they have grown stronger.
Another problem, just as worrying as that of the Taliban, is the fight to assume political power. With the withdrawal of international security forces, ethnic and political groups with decades-old feelings of hostility will again be left to their own devices. Arguments that cannot be solved within the political system can easily turn into armed conflict, or even another civil war. Such a possibility would mean devastation for Afghanistan and instability that might spread to other countries.
The salvation of Afghanistan
Looking at the history of Afghanistan, many people are pessimistic about a solution. They cannot imagine an Afghanistan purged of its deep-rooted problems, poverty and wretchedness.
Yet by God’s leave it is possible to build peace, harmony, well-being, justice, freedom and love in a high-quality, cultured and modern Afghanistan. The main obstacle to these things is fanaticism. The elimination of fanaticism, a radical ideology diametrically opposed to the essence of Islam, is essential for the salvation of the country. A major educational offensive could be started with just a fraction of the money that the USA and NATO have wasted on arms and corruption in Afghanistan. However, the support of Western countries will not, of course, suffice by itself. The essential thing is for Islamic countries to set aside their disagreements and support the innocent Afghan people in a union of love.
Adnan Oktar's piece on Opinion Maker: