By Dr.Mohammed Berraou*
Background to the US NATO Afghan war
The US war was launched on Afghanistan one month following the 11 September 2001 attacks and after the Taliban had refused to hand over Osama bin Laden. The US was joined by an international coalition and the Taliban were quickly removed from power. However, they turned into an insurgent force and continued deadly attacks, destabilising subsequent Afghan governments. Evenmore they declared victory in a spectacularly euphoric way for them and extremely tragic for their enemies’ during the second half of august 2021.
This study is a profound timeline diagnosis of the afghan tragic story during 20 years from Taliban to Taliban!
Taliban euphoria just before 9-11
While benefiting from the support of Pakistan Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates despite harbouring Osama bin laden and his international front against Jews and Christians, and pursuing its brutal and reactionary agendas completely in discordance with the religious and social realities of the afghan people, Taliban sowed no mercy in further implementing very tough behavioural and social measures including forcing women and girls into de facto house arrest.
Taliban last enemy Massud, after his significant military setbacks since his withdrawal from Kabul created a large opposition front grouping all the losers’ factions (called United Front or Northern alliance as broadly known in western media); he still held the front line against further Taliban advances. And launched from his stronghold a campaign accusing Taliban of being merely a Pakistani puppet and pan-Islamic network arguing that “40% of the Taliban’s 15000 troops on the Talokan front were made up of foreigners: Pakistanis, Arabs, Uzbeks and other philipinos, kashmiris, Chechens and Uyghurs from china’s Xinjiang province “ ( Rashid A, Massud ready to fight on Euro Asia insight, Euro Asia net 08-10-2000).
Massuds front benefited as well from regional support of the frightened Russia and its protectorate Tajikistan, Iran who couldn’t bear Shia massacres including Iranian diplomats, reduced all the question in just an American conspiracy in addition to China’s concern of its Uyghur Muslim minority , America was thought to be in Pakistan’s side ,along with its two Arab allies KSA and UAE trying perhaps to use light influence in order to moderate Taliban positions though the final target was still Osama bin Laden..
In vain, Since the Taliban destroyed two giant Buddha statutes In March 2001, including a series of religious edicts and actions by the religious police had made it increasingly hard for UN relief agencies to cope with the humanitarian catastrophe. A big sign that “ moderate Taliban have lost out in a power struggle with a small clique of hardliners who dominate decision making around Mullah Omar, according to a tribal leader” ( Rashid A, going all the way in Kabul, far eastern economic review, 14-06-2001). A confirmation of that was Taliban 2001 summer offensive against Massud’s United front and finally the assassination of the charismatic Tajik leader committed by their al-Qaida “guests” on September 9. after the Attack on Masud , Russia called for an emergency meeting of Indian, Iranian and central Asian leaders in Tajikistan to suggest more military aid for the united front and to discuss US requests for air bases in central Asia to be used in the war against terrorism in Afghanistan.
Just after 9-11
shortly after Osama bin laden released an unprecedented violent threat against the US that they would never see peace in America unless they leave Palestine in peace , and two days after the assassination of Shah Masud ,the tragic events of 9-11 occurred, Bush administration considered the attacks on NY’s ground Zero trade center buildings causing nearly 3000 victims as an “act of war”, so that it would legitimize the retaliation as an act of legitimate self defense according to article 51 of the UN charter , although this interpretation is legally controversial , a large international consensus was established in favour of a coordinated retaliation against terrorists and those who harbour them.( a security council resolution-1368- was passed the day after : 9-12) and another resolution-1373- was passed against harbouring terrorism.
Taliban denied any responsibility and refused to end its guest relation with al Qaeda arguing that no proof was established of al Qaeda and bin laden’s connection to 9-11 events. Nevertheless, both international and regional powers
(Including Iran and Russia) agreed to work in coordination in order to face the common geostrategic dangers that are:
(1) Taliban’s ultra extremist fundamentalism and alliance with al-Qaida,
(2)Trans national terror, and
Contrary to the former Clinton administration, which made catching bin laden, especially after Nairobi and Darussalam attacks, and crippling his organisation the centerpiece of its Afghan policy, the Bush administration was since then targeting the Taliban and the extremist group around mullah Omar, and view the Taliban removal from power as a pre-requisite to catching bin Laden and to ending the civil war in Afghanistan.
On October 7 Americans and British began launching their air raids on Afghanistan soil, but in order to avoid replicating the warlordism that prevailed after the collapse of the afghan communist regime, the attacks were measured not to cause a sudden collapse of Taliban regime in Kabul.
But the war against Taliban and al-Qaida will reshape the geopolitical map in south Asia and central Asia, according to The most prominent scholar on Afghanistan and director of studies in the center on international cooperation at New York University Barnett Rubin “Bin laden and the Taliban believe they are about to draw the US into the trap that devoured the soviet union , and if we lash out without a political and strategic plan for the region , they could be right” (Rashid, A , the coming war- the war starts here, Far eastern economic review, 20-09-2001).
America succeeded to rally the regional powers to its anti terror efforts, but the campaign must not be seen as merely an act of revenge, “the more US action is seen as an act of revenge, the greater the risks of its failing. The more it is seen as meting out justice, the greater support it will master” sais Rubin( Rashid, A, ibid). that’s why a broad goal of restructuring Afghanistan must have been taken into account, including an effective and sustainable support to UN efforts to bring about a comprehensive political, economic and humanitarian plan within an exceptional and unprecedented circumstances never experienced by the UN, neither Kosovo nor East Timor.
The war on Afghanistan began with two major but only tactical blows, first was the capture and execution by Taliban of the pro US Pashtun opposition leader Abdul Haq. Second the images of civilian causalities from US bombings (the unique role of AL Aljazeera Arabic channel and its Syrian prominent reporter Taissir Allouni, both of them paid the cost, the bureau by bombing it as a military target and the reporter who will be later captured and sentenced to house arrest in Spain after being accused of secret linkage with Al Qaeda). Spread the anti Americanism feelings through out the Islamic world.
The three challenges that faced Afghanistan just after the beginning of the US led operation “enduring freedom” are:
(1)The humanitarian catastrophe, (2) the political agenda, (3) reconstruction, in all of these three matters the involvement of the UN appeared to be must.
The first sign was the constitution of national wide peacekeeping force (later known as ISAF) in order to assure safe deliverance of humanitarian supplies from warlords abuses, help unit the country politically, and helps also the reconstruction of the army. Then the UN continued its efforts to form a brad-based afghan government and build legitimate governing institution, karzai has been declared as a head of an interim government due to run the country temporarily before elections under a new constitution. The search for legitimacy and political transition led to the signature of the Bonn agreements.
To be followed
Next : Bonn agreement
*Mohammed Berraou is a PhD holder from Morocco-
He is a Senior researcher and expert in Afghanistan Central Asia and Caucasus
He has performed many university essays on this topic from the year 1989 (the soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan) onwards.