Iraq crisis teaches Obama a harsh lesson on Afghanistan

With the rising violence in Iraq, the world has once again forgotten Afghanistan

Camelia Entekhabi-Fard

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When the United States formed a coalition and attacked the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001 and the war on terror began, Afghans, full of hopes and dreams for democracy, seem to have supported the war. Just two years later, in 2003, the United States invaded Iraq and soon Afghanistan was no longer as important as it was. The unfinished war in Afghanistan and the new frontier in Iraq made Americans so tired that President Obama was forced to withdraw whether the mission had been completed or not.

Of course, occupation is an upsetting fact for the people whose country was invaded, but the lack of a strong central government and a capable defense force left both countries to fall into violence and raises doubts over Afghanistan’s future after the withdrawal of U.S. forces by the end of the year.

Obama acknowledged that ISIS was allowed to fester and grow because of the collapse of the Iraqi security forces

Camelia Entekhabi-Fard

The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq was an end to the occupation but not an end for trouble or violence. Innocent men and women have been killed because Iraq turned into a competition ground between different groups and factions amid the lack of strong, unifying government.

ISIS threat

The threat of militant group ISIS, which controls parts of Iraq and Syria, left the U.S. with no choice but to interfere in Iraq to stop the massacre of minorities.

The horrifying video clips made by ISIS and posted online depict wild violence and show that monsters have been created in the power vacuum that exists in our region.

Obama acknowledged that ISIS was allowed to fester and grow because of the collapse of the Iraq security forces. Solving this problem is totally up to the new government of Iraq and having a prime minister who is accepted by all groups and religions is crucial for unifying all the country’s factions to fight against terrorism.

The U.S. invaded Afghanistan sooner than Iraq but they left Iraq earlier than Afghanistan because the needs of the nations were different.

Afghanistan has had so many opportunities to make political and social progress in the past 13-years. Afghanistan for decades was engaged in civil war and the conditions Afghans lived through somehow made the world sympathize with Afghans. The contribution of international aid attempted to rebuild Afghanistan and put end to insurgencies and poverty, but what a lost cause! Afghanistan, after a 13-year war on terror, is still riddled with insurgents who are able to take hold of towns and hold them while fighting against Afghan forces. To my understanding, girls still cannot attend school in the southern provinces.

President Karzai refused to sign the bilateral security agreement with the U.S., despite public demands that the U.S. keep some of its troops and bases in Afghanistan after the withdrawal.

President Karzai’s refusal fueled the tension between his government and Washington. What makes Afghans so worried is the power vacuum which exists in the absence of U.S. troops and the lack of confidence in their government, both could combine to make Afghanistan like Iraq.

Uncertainty prevailing

With uncertainty prevailing over the Afghan presidential election which was conducted in recent months, the future of this nation is very gloomy. It seems that the election was marred by fraud and the resulting tension could ready the ground for terrorists, just as what happened in Iraq.

Obama’s lesson from Iraq for Afghanistan is to keep troops in the country. However, for Karzai, it seems that making political compromises is more important than the stability of his country.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Afghanistan twice since the second round of the election in June to mediate between the two presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani in order to solve the election issue before it was too late.

In my view, the region’s problems began with the birth of the Taliban and then of al-Qaeda. Soon after the invasion of Afghanistan, the U.S. and its allies concentrated on Iraq when the job in Afghanistan still wasn’t finished. They left Afghanistan to an inexperienced president and the result is the political deadlock and mafia rule the country is now facing.

With the rising violence in Iraq, the world has once again forgotten Afghanistan. If Afghanistan is to be abandoned, we should expect nothing less than what is happening in Iraq to also happen in the Afghan nation.


Camelia Entekhabi-Fard is a journalist, news commentator and writer who grew up during the Iranian Revolution and wrote for leading reformist newspapers. She is also the author of Camelia: Save Yourself by Telling the Truth - A Memoir of Iran. She lives in New York City and Dubai. She can be found on Twitter: @CameliaFard

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