Debacle in Afghanistan will have spillover effects, says expert

Representative Image
Representative Image

Kabul [Afghanistan], August 17 (ANI): The Taliban took Kabul without much of a fight, just as they did in 1996. This debacle will not just be limited to Afghanistan but will have spillover effects.

Husain Haqqani, writing in The Hill said what is happening in Kabul will not be contained in Kabul. Radical Islamists, armed with the powerful narrative of driving out two superpowers through jihad, will challenge the American-led order across much of the Muslim world, from Morocco to Indonesia.

Both US Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden made the mistake of making foreign policy on the basis of a bumper sticker, "No Forever Wars", said Haqqani.

Although the US is better prepared to deal with terrorism now than it was on 9/11, a revival of global jihadi terrorism must be expected. But military withdrawal should not have preceded a political settlement, added Haqqani.

Support for America's Afghan allies should not have been withdrawn without a cease-fire. Drawing parallels with Saigon, Haqqani said that the Taliban's victorious march into Kabul is worse than the fall of Saigon.

Then, the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese waited for two years after the departure of US forces before occupying the capital of South Vietnam.

National security adviser Henry Kissinger had successfully negotiated what he called "a decent interval" between an American withdrawal and the collapse of South Vietnam.

The Taliban has not afforded current American negotiators that courtesy. Given the scale of their military offensive, it is obvious that the Taliban were preparing for war while pretending to discuss peace in Doha, reported The Hill.

The entire episode sets the stage for a diminution of America's diplomatic clout. US diplomats were reduced to "urging" the Taliban, via Twitter, to reduce violence.

That envoys of the mightiest nation on Earth can be duped and its leaders ignored so easily will encourage others to engage in similar duplicitous diplomacy, says Haqqani.

Whether President Biden acknowledges it or not, the debacle in Afghanistan has undermined US prestige as a superpower.

America's credibility as an ally has eroded because of the manner in which the Afghan government was abandoned during the Doha talks. The fear of the US among its enemies has also diminished, said Haqqani.

Diplomacy not backed by the potential use of force is tantamount to skating on thin ice. The Taliban did not care about international legitimacy as much as Biden's team thought they did.

Having manoeuvred American military withdrawal, China, Russia and Pakistan have little reason to keep their word about not recognizing a Taliban regime established by force.

They will probably cite the lack of battle in the fall of Kabul as justification for recognition, dealing a further diplomatic blow to the United States, reported The Hill.

American allies will now have to worry that the US can abandon them at short notice for domestic political reasons -- not a good reputation to have while preparing for peer competition with China.

Equally important is the impact of the Afghan endgame on America's "frenemies". Successive US administrations have consistently accused Pakistan of harboring Taliban leaders, facilitating their finances, offering hospitalization to their injured and allowing them to arm, train and operate across the border. Pakistan has as consistently denied these allegations, reported The Hill.

Having failed to manage its exit from Afghanistan well, the US must now focus on the second order consequences of its disastrous endgame. It should guard against a revival of Islamist terrorism, reassure frustrated allies and figure out a way to restore credibility as a great power, advised Haqqani. (ANI)

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