After 20 years of American presence in Afghanistan, the Taliban have made a comeback, taking control of 85 per cent of the country, with a threat to conquer the rest.
The United States of America started the Afghan war that threw the Taliban out of power in 2001, leaving behind a mess they expected Afghans to clean up.
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To many, after failing to defeat the insurgents, the US withdrawal of their personnel from Afghanistan is regarded as embarrassing.
Now, the Taliban have forcefully occupied the presidential palace, with their soldiers walking freely in the streets, brandishing their guns.
President Ashraf Ghani was forced to flee Kabul with some aides, to the United Arab Emirate (UAE), after he was denied entry into Tajikistan.
On Monday, when the Taliban took over Kabul, heartbreaking scenes emerged from the Kabul International Airport, where five people got killed.
A lot of people were seen in a video jostling to get seats inside an American military airplane. The airport has closed and there is no commercial airplane, but thousands of Afghans were struggling to force their way into any plane they could see.
The video also showed Afghans running after an American military airplane in motion, hoping to get in. Some people clung onto the wing of the aircraft. When the aircraft took off, at least two people, including a footballer, fell and died.
There were also reports of shooting and stampede at the airport, which claimed the lives of at least 5 people who scaled the airport fence to catch the plane.
Analysts have continued to ask different questions since July 2, 2021 when American troops vacated their base in Afghanistan without handing over to anyone. They left thousands of operational cars, 3.5 million items and 5,000 Taliban prisoners behind.
Asked why the US took such action, President Joe Biden said he wanted to talk about happy things.
He said, “The United States went to Afghanistan almost 20 years ago with clear goals of what we wanted to do.
“To get those who attacked us on September 11, 2001 and deliver justice to Osama Bin Laden and degrade the terrorists’ threat to keep Afghanistan from becoming a base from which attacks would continue against the United States, we achieved those objectives. That’s why we went.
“Let me ask those who wanted us to stay: How many more thousands of American daughters and sons are we willing to risk? How long would you have them stay? I will not send another generation of Americans to war in Afghanistan with no reason or expectation of achieving a definite outcome.
“American troops cannot, and should not be fighting and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves. We gave them every chance to determine their own future. We could not provide them with the will to fight for that future.”
America said it spent $2trillion dollars in 20 years and lost 2,400 men.
Biden said the US achieved its objectives in Afghanistan, but the Taliban are growing stronger and al-Qaeda is very much present and reining terror.
Thirteen days after the 911 attack, the then President George W. Bush told the US Congress that necessary action had been taken to “counter terrorists’ threats to the United States.”
On October 9, 2010, Bush said the US military had begun combat action in Afghanistan against al-Qaeda terrorists and their Taliban supporters.
On October 7, 2021, the US began airstrikes in Afghanistan, and by November, Americans had toppled the Taliban government in Kabul.
Ten years later, Al-Qaeda leader, Osama Bin Laden, was killed. On May 1, 2011, President Barack Obama declared that justice had been done.
America ended Afghanistan war where it started
The Islamic emirate of Taliban, which was forced out of power by the US, has returned and become stronger than before. This time, they are being legitimised by major stakeholders.
Last Wednesday, the top Russian diplomat met members of the Taliban, making Russia the first to establish contact with them, according to a report.
The Taliban deployed guards and gave absolute protection to the Russian mission in Kabul, while the major embassies were evacuating their officials.
Even China welcomed the Taliban with open arms. On Tuesday, Beijing said it was ready to deepen cooperative and friendly relationship with Afghanistan under the Taliban.
“China maintains contacts and communication with the Afghan Taliban and others on the basis of full respect of the national sovereignty of Afghanistan and the development of various factions in the country.
“China has been playing a constructive role in promoting a political settlement of the Afghanistan issue,” the spokesperson of the China Foreign Affairs Ministry, Hua Chunying said.
China and Russia were among the few countries that openly met with Taliban before the fall of Kabul, now they have practically recognised their rule, just like Pakistan.
“The Taliban has broken the chain of slavery in Afghanistan,” says the Pakistan prime minister, Imran Khan.
Also, the United States Department facilitated a statement signed by a total of 60 countries, saying those who want to leave Afghanistan should be allowed to exit. But the statement did not mention anything about restoring democracy in the country?
Will the United Nations intervene in the Afghanistan conflict? The Security Council of the organisation met after its conquest of Kabul and Secretary-General Antonio Gutras delivered a statement calling on all parties in the conflict, especially the Taliban to exercise restraint.
What does Taliban’s return mean for the people of Afghanistan
The last time the Taliban were in power, they did not only suspend active politics but also put an end to all civil rights. Women were the biggest victims under their rule as they were banned from working and forbidden from attending school. They were forced to appear in Purdah at all times and barred from stepping out alone, but with a company of male relatives.
Are things going to be the same?
The Taliban said they had changed their approach, but the recent development has proven otherwise.
The gains recorded in 20 years are being rolled back. Afghanistan, which used to be democratic state, is fading away. What lies ahead for the people of Afghanistan if history is anything to go by?
Obviously, the present situation marks the end of democracy in the country because the Taliban are rolling up their sleeves to establish what they call the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. This essentially means a rerun of the 1990s when active politics was suspended and the country was ruled with swords and guns.
The last time they were in power, they also suspended civil rights and executed people who worked against them. Men were also forced to wear turbans and barred from shaving their beards. Movie theaters were converted to mosques.
Why Nigeria should be at alert
As the Taliban maintain absolute control in Afghanistan, security experts have advised the Nigerian government to tighten its belt and be on red alert.
According to the latest Global Terrorism Index (GTI) ranking, Afghanistan is the most terrorised country globally. It is closely followed by Iraq and Nigeria, both of which have been facing incessant killings attributed to Islamist terrorist groups.
There are indications that the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban group poses security implications for Nigeria and other West African countries battling with terrorism by Islamic terrorist groups.
For more than a decade, Nigeria has battling Boko Haram, a terrorist group that opposes western education and ideologies.
The Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP), which is linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), has also carried out many attacks in West Africa.
During an interview with The ICIR on Wednesday, a security expert, Jackson Lekan Ojo, said there were many reasons for Nigeria to be worried. He said that following the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban, Boko Haram and the ISWAP operating in Nigeria would be “tactically empowered.”
“It is a case of swimming in a pool of about three feet and you are still struggling; now that pool has been flooded to almost 12 feet, what would you do?
“Now that they have taken over properly, it means they have been fully empowered, and each of their branches or anybody that has sympathy for them across the globe will be highly empowered now,” Ojo said.
He said many people in the Middle East were ‘technically supporting’ Taliban due to Islamic religion.
Another security expert, Ben Okezie, said the Taliban had terrorism affiliations and could be linked to such organisations in Nigeria.
“They are in one way or another linked with the ISIS, and ISIS is linked with ISWAP, while ISWAP is linked with Boko Haram, which is a network. Al-Qaeda is also there.
“Terrorist organisations have a network; they know and relate with each other,” Okezie said.
He said the mission of the terrorist organisations was to penetrate their areas of operation and take over power from various governments, which could pose a major concern for Nigeria.