Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Opinion: The world helped destroy Afghanistan. It must help Afghans rebuild it

When my family fled Kabul in the 1990s, a bloody civil war was raging in Afghanistan. After years of western support to fundamentalist militant groups, those groups had defeated the Russian army and the communist government, then ravaged the country as they fought to control it. The international community had washed its hands of Afghanistan, seemingly indifferent to the fact that the people raining rockets on Kabul were trained by the CIA, or that the rockets were purchased with money from the west, leaving the militants to tear the country apart.

For a decade Afghanistan was largely ignored. Then, 15 years ago today, the pendulum of global interest swung to the opposite extreme. Within a month of the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001, the US, closely backed by the UK, launched military operations, vowing to defeat the Taliban and bring democracy to the country. We heard over and over that this was a just war, and it was a moral imperative to intervene and defeat the evil of the Taliban. Failure, they said, was not an option.

But now, again, we appear to be subject to global indifference and neglect. Two years ago Barack Obama declared the war in Afghanistan was at an end. Yet 2016 has been the deadliest year for civilian casualties and injuries. Despite the explicit premise of the war – to “liberate” Afghans from the Taliban – the group is now stronger than ever, and gaining more and more territory. In the last monthseveral deadly attacks have been launched in Kabul by the Taliban, killing dozens of civilians.

With security non-existent in most of the country, Afghans remain poor and destitute. Unemployment is high and access to basic services remains desperately low. More than half of all Afghan children do not have access to education. It is still one of the harshest countries in the world for women, and it is still devastated by violence. It seems to stand once again on the edge of collapse into a bloody civil war. 

There is no question that the intervention inAfghanistan has been riddled with disastrous decisions. A series of hubristic military and development strategies have predictably failed and as yet there is no detailed understanding of the failure or how it might be prevented in the future.

Still, even after nearly 40 years of war, ordinary Afghans are fighting for a better life. 

Fifteen years on, it’s time to honestly reflect on the failure of the international community in Afghanistan. If we can abandon paralysing, fantastical notions of complete failure or victory, and meet Afghans where they are, we can build on what progress has been made. Afghans need the full support of the international community to continue their hard-won successes in the past 15 years. Anything less would be another bitter betrayal by the very people who claimed to have their back. - Read More, theguardian

The world helped destroy Afghanistan. It must help Afghans rebui

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