After year-long negotiations and talks behind closed doors in many world capitals, one cannot readily accept that what happened in Afghanistan was not a largely mysterious prior arrangement. This is especially true when one considers the special relations that linked Taliban and the Iranian regime when the movement was not in power in Afghanistan.
Taliban took over seamlessly, without a single battle with the Afghani Army, let alone the US Army; without one strike by the Afghani Air Force. Time shall reveal the minutiae of this pre-conceived arrangement, but it would be gullible to believe that this was all a pure “jihadist” military achievement by the Taliban.
Speaking to CNN, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Washington succeeded in making sure the Taliban cannot attack the US again, adding that staying in Afghanistan is simply “not in the national interest.” He then went on to assure that the US has not asked Taliban for anything, nor has it made any promises to the movement.
For his part, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson rushed to defend Washington’s quick withdrawal decision, assuring that it was an evidence-based move.
What this means is that Washington and London, its historical ally, are well aware of what they’re doing -- or so it seems, at least. For what interest does the US, and subsequently, the West, have in “handing over” the country to the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” on a silver platter?
Commenting on Taliban’s rapid gains, US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said that extremists all over the world are celebrating, describing the developments in Afghanistan as dangerous for the US.
The fact of the matter is, everyone understands the global security danger that will ensue from the takeover of Afghanistan by this crazy extremist movement, which is only differentiated from its Iranian twin in that Taliban is the Sunni version and Khomeinism is the Shia version.
This danger is not limited to embracing al-Qaeda and similar organizations. After all, 9/11 was concocted in the kitchens of Afghanistan, and that is a well-known danger that is likely to make a comeback, albeit in new forms. However, the greater danger is the emergence of a Sunni version of Khomeinism. The head of Taliban is “the Prince of the Faithful”; his counterpart in the Iranian version is “the Supreme Leader,” who is also “the Guardian of Muslims” in the words of his followers, like Lebanon’s Hassan Nasrallah.
Today, we are standing before a vile momentum that will revive radical Islamists, and this momentum will surely not spare anyone, especially Arab peoples and Gulf countries.
Who let the monster out, and for what reason? What pledges have Taliban leaders made that allowed them to take over the country?
As I was watching Taliban’s invasion of Afghani cities 20 years later, all I could think was that we’re back to square one.
This article was originally published in, and translated from, pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat.