10.09.2021 Author: Viktor Mikhin

Afghanistan: Is US Cooperation with the Taliban Power Possible?


Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has bravely stated that “it is possible” the United States will seek to coordinate with the Taliban (banned in Russia) “counterterrorist strikes against DAESH (a terrorist group banned in Russia) fighters or others.” First of all, Al-Qaeda (banned in territory of the Russian Federation), created and fostered by the USA and monarchic regimes of the region of the Persian Gulf. Yes, and DAESH was created from two organizations in Iraq and Syria and instigated “great combiners” from Washington. Interestingly, the US first creates specific terrorist organizations in the Middle East and then heroically fights against them. True, the story with the Taliban is backward: first, the Pentagon and its leadership fight against them vigorously but ineptly, and then a “glorified” general declares his cooperation with them.

In recent weeks, the US military command has coordinated daily with Taliban commanders outside the Kabul airport to facilitate the evacuation, or rather the flight of Yankees and their allies – more than 124,000 people have been evacuated. But this was likely a gesture of generosity from the Taliban and not necessarily a sign that the parties would continue them or even that Kabul and Washington would want a stable relationship between them in the future. Let’s not forget that it was the US military that ousted the Taliban from power in the fall of 2001 and supposedly fought against them for the next 20 years.

The extent and, most notably, the nature of the US-Taliban relationship now when the war is over is one of the key issues that must be addressed. The US diplomatic presence in Kabul has been relocated to Doha, Qatar. President Joe Biden has noted several times recently that the Taliban are sworn enemies of DAESH in Afghanistan, suggesting they have allegedly common interests with the United States. However, at a Pentagon press conference with Lloyd Austin, Secretary of Defense, Army General Milley called the Taliban “ruthless,” adding: “Whether or not they will change remains to be seen.” He suggested that the recent agreement to cooperate with the Taliban at the Kabul airport was not necessarily a model for the future. “In war, you do what you have to do to reduce the risk to the mission and the force, not what you necessarily want to do,” Milley added.

Biden pledged to continue pursuing the DAESH group in Afghanistan in response to its suicide bombing at a Kabul airport gate that killed dozens of Afghans and 13 US military personnel.  However, targeting DAESH or other extremist groups, such as Al-Qaeda, will be more difficult if there are no US armed forces and friendly government forces on the ground with which to share intelligence on these extremist networks. But the Biden administration is adamant that it can “contain” these groups by controlling and potentially striking with US troops based elsewhere in the region.

While the Taliban are opposed to DAESH, it is far from clear whether they will be inclined to cooperate with the US military or the Central Intelligence Agency now that they have become masters in Afghanistan. True, Milley has recent experience with Taliban leaders. Twice last year, he met face-to-face with them in an effort to slow down their attacks on the US-backed Afghan government that collapsed in mid-August. Secretary of Defense Austin was at least as skeptical as Milley about the possibility of future coordination with the Taliban. “I wouldn’t draw any logical conclusions on the broader issues,” the defense secretary stated.

Both Austin and Milley commanded troops in Afghanistan during the 20-year war, and their comments at the press conference focused mainly on tributes to those who served in that miserable country, including those who died there ingloriously or were wounded, bringing no glory to their homeland.

Suppose this military personnel acknowledged the “pain and anger” of the Americans. What about the Afghans, whose death toll and wounded counts in the hundreds of thousands and whose country has been pushed back into the Middle Ages because of American leadership. “If we only consider the number of women and children who have been killed, injured, or maimed in Afghanistan over the years, we realize what a huge disaster has occurred in that country,” Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi lamented. The experience of the US military presence in various parts of the world clearly and distinctly shows that they only unscrupulously disrupt security, stability, and tranquility. Typically, Washington cynically invents various excuses and conducts propaganda campaigns against other countries instead of being held accountable to world public opinion for its dismal record and deplorable results.

I wonder if the presidents of the “democratic” USA, who started this senseless war and lasted about 20 years, will be brought before the International Court of Justice? Will the United States pay compensation so that Afghans can at least partially rebuild their economy and infrastructure? After all, Afghanistan has suffered several hundred billion dollars in losses during 20 years of American aggression and continues to be one of the poorest countries in the region.

In his speech, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei condemned the role of Washington’s foreign policy in creating tension in Afghanistan, saying: “Behind the scenes of US foreign policy lurks a ravenous wolf that sometimes turns into a cunning fox. Today’s situation in Afghanistan is an example of this. The source of all crises in Afghanistan comes from the USA who has committed all kinds of atrocities during its 20-year occupation. These ranged from bombing weddings and mourning ceremonies, imprisoning individuals, and increasing addictive drugs tenfold. They haven’t taken a single step for development in Afghanistan.“

With the end of US involvement in the war and the withdrawal, or rather the flight, of all US military personnel from the country, Joe Biden begins to “think” about the prospects for a “new relationship” with the Taliban. He directed Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to coordinate with international partners.

Indeed, after what the great democratic US has done in Afghanistan, a truly great job is required to establish normal life in that country. There is a need for Afghanistan to restore the economy, agriculture, infrastructure, a long and arduous struggle against poppy crops, and their gradual withdrawal from the dangerous zone of drug suppliers. Whether the new Government has the strength to carry out this daunting task and whether the Afghans have enough optimism for it, time will tell, which now works in freedom and independence for the benefit of this ancient country.

Viktor Mikhin, corresponding member of RANS, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”. 

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