Home Alternative guide Crisis in Afghanistan: Was the Fall of the Government Inevitable?

Crisis in Afghanistan: Was the Fall of the Government Inevitable?

8
0

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani delivered a speech from exile in the United Arab Emirates on August 18, 2021. / Facebook / Ashraf Ghani / via Reuters

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani delivered a speech from exile in the United Arab Emirates on August 18, 2021. / Facebook / Ashraf Ghani / via Reuters

In recent weeks, events in Afghanistan have put the country back in the spotlight after years of drifting global information radars.

But for those of us with a personal connection to the besieged nation, the political instability and devastating war has unfortunately become all too familiar. The next time you meet an Afghan, ask him if he remembers his parents talking about politics and the country’s countless conflicts at family gatherings. I bet almost all of them do.

READ MORE:

Can we eradicate poverty?

The Taliban are the ‘people’s choice’ group of demands

The spoon that revolutionizes meals in space

The history of war and migration touched all Afghans. I was born in London five years after my parents left Afghanistan. It was the Soviet invasion in 1979 that caused the country’s first major exodus in the 1980s. Few could have predicted that 42 years later, people would still be forcibly displaced due to the violence, with which the overwhelming majority has nothing to do with it.

Nawied Jabarkhyl was born in London to parents who left Afghanistan in the 1980s. / Phil Caller / CGTN

Nawied Jabarkhyl was born in London to parents who left Afghanistan in the 1980s. / Phil Caller / CGTN

It has been almost 20 years since the US-led invasion overthrew the Taliban government, which ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. What happened over the next two decades was a failed attempt state building, though the ease with which the government and its collapsed armed forces are anything to go by.

Western officials – including US President Joe Biden – have expressed surprise at how quickly the Taliban has taken control of the country. Barely 10 days after taking its first provincial capital, it seized Kabul. But for those of us who watched events closely, the structural weaknesses of the Afghan government were evident.

Many factors contributed to the collapse of the state, but some key dates and issues stand out.

Endemic corruption

Given the nature of its tribal society and notoriously difficult landscape, the United States and its international allies used a collection of warlords in the fight against the Taliban in 2001. These are men who made a name for themselves. noun – not always in a positive way – during resistance. against the Soviets and the civil war that followed in the early 1990s.

As the Western focus shifted to building a political structure, many leaders were given high-level government roles as billions of dollars in military aid and support began to flow. .

This resulted in a culture of endemic cronyism and corruption that permeated Afghan society and was very often linked to the top.

Former United Nations Deputy Special Envoy for Afghanistan Peter Galbraith told the BBC that coalition partners “never seriously tried to tackle the corruption that prevailed from above.”

He added: “The local partner was corrupt, inefficient, illegitimate.”

Under the leadership of Hamid Karzai and his successor Ashraf Ghani, Afghanistan has consistently ranked among the most corrupt countries in the world. According to Transparency International’s corruption index, it ranks 165th out of 180 countries in 2020.

To put it in perspective, an April Brown University analysis estimated that the war alone cost the United States $ 2.26 trillion. Many other countries have helped fund conflict, aid and reconstruction efforts and have poured billions into the country.

Afghan presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai waves his ink-stained finger after voting in the presidential election in Kabul on June 14, 2014. / Reuters / Stringer

Afghan presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai waves his ink-stained finger after voting in the presidential election in Kabul on June 14, 2014. / Reuters / Stringer

Governance crisis

The widespread prevalence of corruption has done little to endow the government with Afghans. The country’s political structure hasn’t helped either.

From the start, the imposed system was a highly centralized state, with the president inheriting significant powers with few checks and balances. On paper, they existed – like the largely ceremonial parliament – but in practice, the president’s signature was sacrosanct.

Hamid Karzai was appointed interim leader in 2002 and won his first election in 2004. Five years later, he was re-elected president amid reports of widespread electoral fraud.

In 2014, former finance minister Ashraf Ghani was sworn in to succeed him in another contested election mired in allegations of electoral fraud and ballot manipulation.

In both cases, the apparent loser was Abdullah Abdullah, a well-dressed politician who was a figure in the Northern Alliance’s resistance to the Soviets and the Taliban.

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, second from left, accompanied by the former government’s main peace envoy, Abdullah Abdullah, recently spoke with members of a Taliban delegation. / Dr Abdullah Abdullah via Facebook / Document via Reuters.

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, second from left, accompanied by the former government’s main peace envoy, Abdullah Abdullah, recently spoke with members of a Taliban delegation. / Dr Abdullah Abdullah via Facebook / Document via Reuters.

He and Ghani exchanged accusations of fraud, which led to months of paralysis and the failure to form a new government. US Secretary of State John Kerry had to fly to arbitrate and the result was a so-called “government of national unity”.

Ghani would remain president, while a new role of director general of Afghanistan was created for Abdullah. The result was a new governance divide and a real turning point for nation-building attempts. Regardless of his intentions, the move eroded the legitimacy of the government – and in particular Ghani – in the eyes of many Afghans.

The 2019 presidential election involved the same two favorites. The result was, as you might expect, the same – allegations of fraud, months of political crisis, the establishment of two parallel governments and finally, another power-sharing deal reached almost eight months longer. late May 2020.

Turnout was less than 20 percent, well below the roughly 60 percent recorded in 2004, according to the country’s Independent Electoral Commission.

Over the past two decades, the US-backed government in Kabul has been plagued by political problems. Despite the scenes in the bustling cities, many Afghans had little day-to-day involvement in state institutions and few saw the political establishment as working for them. This has been a constant theme over the years that I have spoken to people there.

Security weaknesses

“We have spent over a trillion dollars. We have trained and equipped an Afghan military force of around 300,000 men,” Biden said of the Afghan security forces days after the Taliban’s rapid offensive.

In fact, the actual number was much smaller. “Ghost” soldiers and police are a defining feature of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). This is an example of the interlocking of the fundamental problems above. Corruption meant that salaries were collected for soldiers who did not exist and bad governance allowed it to continue.

Despite the staggering sums devoted to the training of ANSFs, they have long suffered from structural deficiencies. In addition to being poorly equipped in some places, high rates of absenteeism and drug addiction were common, as were fears of low morale and heightened ethnic divisions within the military and police. The problems have been well documented but rarely made international headlines. Throughout the conflict there has been a fascination with formed numbers – that is, quantitative goals at the direct detriment of qualitative progress.

An Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier watches over a checkpoint in Logar province, Afghanistan, February 2016. The army had many “ghost” soldiers. / Reuters / Omar Sobhani

An Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier watches over a checkpoint in Logar province, Afghanistan, February 2016. The army had many “ghost” soldiers. / Reuters / Omar Sobhani

Biden’s claim that Afghan forces lacked “the will to fight” for their country was particularly insulting to many families who have sacrificed sons and daughters over the past two decades. Many displayed incredible bravery in a battle that for some lacked purpose. It is important to remember that many young Afghans have joined the fight due to the lack of other employment opportunities.

According to the aforementioned Brown University study, 241,000 people died as a direct result of the war. This includes thousands of foreign soldiers, tens of thousands of militants, Afghan forces and, most tragically, innocent civilians. The actual numbers are probably higher.

There’s a whole slew of analysis on the war in Afghanistan going around right now. The country has made huge strides over the past 20 years in areas such as education, women’s rights, healthcare and media freedom – all of which deserve to be protected. Identifying why Afghanistan fell so quickly to the Taliban is an incredibly complex task.

But for years there have been clear signs that this was a deeply fragile nation that at times seemed uncertain of the way forward. It lacked the institutions to make a healthy and prosperous modern state and the leadership to guide it through its myriad challenges. All of this prolonged a devastating war and meant that Afghanistan – a sadly ungovernable and fiercely proud country – was ripe to be taken.

Cover photo: Isaiah Campbell / Document via Reuters


Source link

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here