Less than a week after US President Donald Trump sanctioned a brutal airstrike against alleged Daesh militants (ISIS) positions in Afghanistan, the Taliban carried out an attack against the Afghan Security Forces, putting the argument forward that Afghans should rise against those who act under the patronage of foreign powers. We ought to remember that the very premise of the Taliban’s ideology of war has been rooted against foreign interventionism – and more particularly US military interventionism. To now have Washington play heavy-handed at a time when logic would dictate Afghans are empowered to man their own borders and the integrity of their land against the disease of Wahhabism borderlines insanity – if not to argue criminality.
America’s latest display of force – and what a display indeed but to drop the mother of all bombs, regardless of the civilian casualties that would ensue and no matter the level of destruction, really only ever helped the Taliban and its partners in terror to further legitimise their stance against those they see as “apostates”.
One could theorise that Washington single-handedly revived the Taliban, and in one smooth sweep of the hand made the case for its own encroachment against Afghanistan’s territorial sovereignty. Speak about the arsonist playing fire-fighter and righteous avenger of the oppressed.
And then of course one must speak against the targeting of Shia Afghans and what can only be described as Washington’s decision to fan sectarianism by playing target practice against the very parties who have most invested in the fight against Terror. Why aim at an area with a strong majority Shia population with a weapon capable of such wholesale destruction if in fact the US did not ambition to maximise casualties? In which case why Shia Afghans? Why has the US aligned its intervention in such a way that it has propped Terror? More than a decade into the absurdity of the war on terror we ought to answer such questions! That is of course if we have the courage to bear unpleasant answers …
Once upon a time, when war was not yet western powers only default setting, such violence by a foreign nation against another would have constituted not only an act of war, but a crime under international law. Nowadays, the illegal and the criminal have stood under the protective banner of America’s exceptionalism, and us, common mortals have been asked to kindly keep mum before the will of the Empire. Only it is difficult to watch entire communities burn and still posit that such atrocities are necessary evil in our global against Terror.
At which point does our approach to counter-terrorism will liken us to those we ambition to destroy on account they have committed barbaric acts of bloodshed against the innocent? How long before we recognise that Afghanistan’s future lies with its people?
As Prince Ali Seraj of Afghanistan has stressed many times over during our talks, Afghanistan needs not to be put under tutelage it needs to be empowered and its institutions return to a system of governance that suits its people. Any imposition on the part of western powers has already proven fruitless and counterproductive and change is needed if not to fall prey to political and military insanity.
It was Sigmund Freud I believe who asserted that insanity is the pursuit of the same action over and over while expecting a different results.
I think we can safely say that America’s Afghan pursuit falls within this paradigm …
Unless of course if the premise is not to defeat Terror and Terror’s ideology: Wahhabism, but instead exploit Afghanistan as a free-for-all military testing ground for all things nasty and abhorrently deadly.
“Afghanistan shouldn’t be a ‘testing ground for new and dangerous weapons” former Afghan President Hamid Karzai commented after the US dropped its mega-bomb.
In a series of Twitter posts, Karzai said: “This is not the war on terror but the inhuman and most brutal misuse of our country as testing ground for new and dangerous weapons.”
“It is upon us Afghans to stop the USA,” he said.
Karzai was not the only party to strongly take offence at US President Trump’s latest military prowess.
“I find the use of the largest non-nuclear bomb, the so called ‘mother of all bombs’, on our soil reprehensible & counterproductive,” Omar Zakhilwal, the Afghan envoy to Pakistan, also said on Twitter.
“If big bombs were the solution, we would be the most secure place on earth today.”
A GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb is one of the most powerful conventional weapons in existence. The bomb weighs more than 10,000 kilograms and contains 8,164 kilograms of explosive. Its explosion is equivalent to 11 tons of TNT and the blast radius is a mile wide.
The MOAB is a precision guided weapon but is delivered by parachute from a C-130 Hercules plane. It targets softer targets, such as cave systems, as opposed to reinforced structures such as bunkers.
“What it does is basically suck out all of the oxygen and lights the air on fire,” said Bill Roggio of the Foundation for Defence of Democracies think tank, to the Air Force Times.
“It’s a way to get into areas where conventional bombs can’t reach.”
While few will ever argue that the likes of the Taliban need to be ideologically laid waste to since they advocate exclusionism and genocide on account of a misguided sense of righteousness, carpet-bombing communities will achieve little by way of that. However many times Mr Trump will argue that his military operation was a “another very, very successful mission” I will personally beg the right to differ.
Yes 36 radical militants were killed, but to what cost to those communities nearby?
Terror is an ideology that needs first to be tackled at its root … and since Wahhabism sits strongest in Saudi Arabia, we may want to refocus anger towards those parties who most deserve it.
As for Afghanistan I would say that, like any other nations, it inherently and unconditionally has the right to its territorial integrity, and its future.
Catherine Shakdam is the Director of Programs of the Shafaqna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies and a political analyst specializing in radical movements, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.