Afghanistan, America’s role and what Nigeria must learn

By Ishowo Oluwatosin

Around the globe, the news that Kabul fell to the hands of the Taliban shook the world, people of interest and non-interest diverted attention towards one of the biggest news at the start of a new decade, if not the biggest news of the decade. The Afghanistan conflict spanned two decades before the Americans eventual withdrawal of military presence in the country.

Joe Biden, the President of the United States admitted in his address to his countrymen that the take over of Kabul happened sooner than expected, it means America miscalculated and held wrong assumptions. She underestimated the Taliban and trusted the political leaders of Afghanistan in negotiating the future of their country. Joe Biden said they gave Afghanistan everything militarily but failed to do one thing, that is the “will” to fight as the country was swept easily by the Taliban even before former President Ghani fled the country.

Nigeria and Afghanistan are strikingly different. as the latter history is more complex than Nigeria’s. Afghanistan is a country fraught with conflict and war, and notably a country of interest. What we share in common is the presence of extremist groups, and that is why we must share in the fear held by countries beyond us. The victory of the Taliban is a major boost to terrorism across the globe and it has been proven that guns and bombs are not enough to get rid of any rigid ideological demagogue – especially one premiered on religion.

Since 1816, after Afghanistan’s civil war, the Barakzy clan became the ruling dynasty of the country headed by Dost Mohammed Khan.  This time, both Great Britain and Russia were scrambling for influence in Afghanistan which necessitated Mohammed to pursue a medium approach in his relationship with the two powers. In the end, Britain ordered the invasion of the country, feeling that Mohammed was hostile to her and unable to resent Russia’s influence on his country.

The ordered war seeks to restore Shah Shoja, the exiled King of Afghanistan who preceded Mohammed. Shoja was restored but the local Afghans would reject him, they are not people who are comfortable with foreign presence or imposition of government on them, Shojah was rejected by the people and Britain discussed her terms of withdrawal with Mohammed’s son Akbar Khan and marched out of Kabul.

There was another battle in Afghanistan in 1878, during the reign of Shir’ Ali Khan, the third son of Dost Mohammed, who took the throne after his father’s death. Shir’, as Emir, refused British envoy’s entrance into Afghanistan at the border but allowed a Russian General into his country. This triggered the second Anglo-Afghan war, Shir’ died a year after in exile and his son was recognised as Emir; Yaqub Khan who agreed to receive a permanent British embassy at Kabul. Until September 1879 when a British envoy was murdered in Kabul and the country was reoccupied; Yaqub abdicated the throne until his nephew took over in 1880.

Then in 1919, the third war was as a result of Afghanistan’s support for the Ottoman empire in World War I, despite that, the then ruler Habibullah avoided violence before his assassination, and his son Amanullah Khan took over the throne only to declare independence from Britain upon assuming power and this led to the third war, popularly believed to be inconclusive.

Russia in 1979 invaded Afghanistan under the pretext of upholding a treaty between them, after a Russian backed government headed by Taraki was destroyed by the Afghanistan Communist party and the eventual assassination of their imposed leader. Thus, Russia occupied Afghanistan to re-establish a government of her choice. The war went on for ten years before Russia’s withdrawal and this led to emergence of extremists’ groups in Afghanistan.

The invasion of Afghanistan by the United States of America in 2001 was indicative of her aggressive posture yet justifiable. It was a legitimate invasion on the ground that her national interest was threatened following the attack on the World Trade Centre by Osama Bin  Laden. The refusal by Afghanistan to cooperate with the U.S in dealing with Osama, and his Al-Qaeda terrorist group, indicated that the war ravaged country had learnt nothing from her experience with Britain and Russia.

Nation-building should be the business of all nations and what the rest of world, especially the West, owes  Afghanistan is empathy, sincerity and goodwill. After all, they fuelled the crisis. So, If the Afghans desire change, they should demand and fight for it and whatever their interpretation of human rights is should be defined by them. It was never the responsibility of America or anyone to do that for them.

America could not even hide her disappointment in the collapsed government of Afghanistan, she designated the Taliban as an insurgent group, which is a total dismissal of the group’s terror activities over the years. America even unconsciously forgot that UN Security Council had designated the Taliban as a terrorist organization. The simple fact is America is no longer interested in Afghanistan, they have achieved their purpose. The US military remains as strong as always, it was not about weaknesses.

The take over of Kabul by the Taliban is a boost for terrorism across the globe. All terrorist organizations whether in Somalia, Nigeria, Syria, Iraq, Yemen or Afghanistan hold extremist views, share the same aspirations and common bonds. The fear of an average Nigerian and shared sentiments by Africans must not be compromised through accommodation of the Taliban faithfuls on the continent.

The West should take full responsibility for remaking Afghanistan. The unrest in the world, particularly Afghanistan was not only designed by them, it was a template constructively followed in successive centuries and decades. Africa, especially Nigeria must get more serious than ever and stop politicizing security, we must spend heavily on education and security to ensure Nigeria’s survival and our troops must be constantly motivated by both citizens and government.

*Ishowo can be reached via e-Mail: tosinishowo2015@gmail.com and Twitter: @Tosinishowo

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