“Terrorism is always one bad day away from being issue No. 1.” John Avlon
“Needless to say, the women of Afghanistan are very worried, extremely worried. It does not seem that the Taliban has moved very much from their position when it comes to how they treat women in Afghanistan. And we have seen many examples and evidence of that in the areas that fall under their control. So, yes, women are very worried and so am I. This is a very real and legitimate concern.” Roya Rahmani, Afghanistan’s ambassador to the U.S.
“The Iraqi and Afghan wars have not ‘ended.’ Only America’s involvement has ‘ended.’ … When a country leaves a war before achieving victory it is not called leaving. It is called defeat. … When the decent leave, the indecent win.” ― Dennis Prager
“Всем всё было похер. И это было некруто и западло. Можно было даже подумать, что пацаны умирали и убивали зря, и молчали об этом зря, и героями себя считали зря.” ― Shamil Idiatullin. Translation- “Nobody gave a hoot. And it was uncool and beneath the radar. You’d think the boys were dying and killing for nothing, and keeping quiet about it for nothing, and thinking they were heroes for nothing. (translation mine) (This is a quote by Idiatullin upon the retreat of the Soviet soldiers in 1989 back into the USSR after they decided it was not worth it. Most Soviet citizens did not even know the 9 years and 1-month long war was going on.)
This week’s publication is the 200th edition of More than Meets the Eye. It has come out each week without fail for 200 weeks. I have benefited greatly from this project, and I hope it has been helpful to each of you as well. I remain committed to research and write each week in such a way that provides for you, our reader, a trusted source of information that you can turn to. I will continue to cite the sources that I research from, as well as invite others to prove me wrong. Mine is by no means an infallible point of view, but it is one that you can trust to be transparent and verifiable. Finally, I will reiterate my presuppositional foundation so that are no doubts or misunderstandings: I am writing from a strong devotion to Jesus Christ and a deep commitment to His Word, the Bible.
So, without further ado, let us turn to our subject at hand, a continuation of our look at the tectonic changes that are about to take place in Afghanistan and what we might expect as a result of the impending withdrawal of the US and Allied forces from within Afghanistan.
I will begin by taking a brief look at what the US, Afghan Government, and Taliban have agreed to. It is contained in a document called the “Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan” and was signed by U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, and the Taliban’s Political Deputy and Head of the Political Office, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, on February 29, 2020, in Doha, Qatar.
I will then discuss several things that are happening now as US forces are pulling out and what some of the legitimate concerns are of the Afghan people as this withdrawal concludes on August 31st.
What exactly did the United States agree to on behalf of itself, the Afghan government, and their allies?
According to the Council on Foreign Relations, the agreement, following more than eighteen months (and nine rounds) of peace talks, involved the US negotiator, Zalmay Khalilzad, representatives from the Taliban, delegations from the Afghan government, and numerous other special representatives or envoys from neighboring or regional countries and international organizations. The signing of the deal was preceded by a seven-day “reduction in violence agreement” that was seen as a test of the Taliban’s ability to control its forces.
The agreement outlines four goals, with the last two dependent on the status of the first two:
- Armed groups will be prevented (by the Taliban and Afghan security forces) from using Afghanistan as a base for acts against the United States and its allies.
The Taliban agreed that it will not threaten the United States or its allies and that it will prevent armed groups and others in Afghanistan from doing the same. The Taliban also committed to sending “a clear message” that it will not cooperate with those intent on such activities.
- Foreign forces will withdraw from Afghanistan, including U.S. troops and contractors and coalition forces.
The United States has committed to withdrawing all of its military forces—as well as those of allies, partners, and civilian security personnel—within fourteen months of signing the agreement, pending the Taliban’s demonstration of commitment to the agreement. Presumably, as a show of good faith, the United States also committed to drawing down its troops to 8,600 and withdrawing from 5 military bases within the first 135 days.
- Intra-Afghan negotiations were notionally scheduled to begin on March 10, 2020.
The start of negotiations was dependent on the ability of the Taliban and the Afghan government to release one thousand prisoners and five thousand prisoners respectively, with the ultimate goal of releasing all political prisoners three months after talks begin. Once negotiations started, the United States reviewed its sanctions against the Taliban and has been working with the UN Security Council and the Afghan government to remove their Taliban-related sanctions as well.
- The agenda for intra-Afghan negotiations will include a discussion of how to implement a permanent and comprehensive cease-fire and a political roadmap for the future of Afghanistan.
The United States and the Taliban agreed that they seek a “post-settlement Afghan Islamic government.” Pending successful negotiations and an agreed-upon settlement, the United States has agreed to seek economic cooperation from allies and UN member-states for Afghan reconstruction efforts and has pledged no further domestic interference in Afghanistan.
So what is happening as of today as the US and its allies finish their systematic pull-out of Afghanistan?
According to a recent article by Human Rights Watch,
“Non-state armed groups are bound by Common Article 3 to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and customary international humanitarian law. This requires that the Taliban respect fundamental guarantees in areas that they occupy, including: non-discrimination on the basis of sex and other grounds; freedom of religion; respect for family life; humane treatment of prisoners; prohibitions on torture and corporal punishment; collective punishment; and rights to a fair trial. Individuals who violate some of these guarantees, such as by committing torture, are responsible for war crimes. In areas they effectively control, the Taliban should also respect and protect the fundamental human rights of individuals, including the rights to education, freedom of expression, and assembly.”
It will be interesting to see how the Taliban comply with these international norms as they continue to move into positions of power within the country. Already the Taliban control approximately 80% of the country, even before the US forces are completely withdrawn.
I was able to secure a document this week from an Afghan refugee in Europe who sent me a copy of a letter being distributed in the Herat Province in the northwestern part of Afghanistan. It says,
The Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan.
Herat City CareTaker
To all residents of the Province of Herat, Islamic greetings….
The Jihadists are planning to attack by car bombs and other offensive operations on the governmental posts.
Therefore to all residents located near the government security posts or other officials’ offices, be informed to move away for your safety.
Damaging or hurting the public is damaging to ourselves. It will be your kindness to follow with this request.
There seems to be little intent by the Taliban to secure peace by peaceful means. By their actions, it appears that the Taliban have every intention of taking complete control of the entire country by force as necessary.
Reports from other Afghan refugees include demands that education for young Afghan girls and women will no longer be allowed, women will only be allowed in public in the complete cover of the Burqa, and that all women will be escorted by a close, adult-male relative when in public spaces. The withdrawal of US forces will see Afghanistan regress 20 years backward upon the completion of their withdrawal.
There will be much bloodshed before the Taliban eventually regain power, but it is my estimate as well as the estimation of others that Afghanistan will become ruled by the Taliban within 6 months of the US withdrawal.
One Last Thing…
Afghan and international counternarcotics experts said violence in Afghanistan has spiked in recent years alongside increased cultivation of opium poppies, used for heroin production, and ephedra, a plant that grows wild across the country and is being used to make methamphetamine. The officials described the Taliban as the world’s biggest drug cartel and said the group—which is fighting a fierce insurgency against the Afghan government—is using heroin transshipment routes to push methamphetamine into new markets in Australia, Asia, North America, Europe, and Africa.
The relative costs of heroin and methamphetamine make meth an attractive diversification for the Taliban, who are said to earn around $3 billion annually trafficking opium and heroin produced principally in southern Afghanistan. Cesar Guedes-Ferreyros, the representative in Kabul for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, said at least 85 percent of the world’s heroin is sourced to Afghanistan.
To the Biden Administration’s credit, it appears that all the negotiations, which were begun by Khalilzad under President Trump, have been focused on the original reasons that the United States went to Afghanistan in the first place (Afghanistan had become a safe haven for terrorist groups like al Qaeda and ISIS). The original military goals, as set by President George W. Bush, were to destroy any remnant of terrorist training sites and hunt down Osama bin Laden and eliminate him. In a shrewd political move, President Biden is hastily withdrawing US troops in an effort to win public opinion. On the surface, it appears to many to be a savvy decision.
As with most things, there is more than meets the eye. It clearly falls within the purview that originally sent American warriors into harm’s way, but what will become apparent very soon is that, as with most political decisions, there is a heavy price to be paid. What is equally as clear is that the cost of Afghanistan’s precarious position as a melting pot of socio-ethnic groups, divided by a common religion, will be borne on the backs of the poor and uneducated, most especially those of Afghani women and children.
Americans will rest safely in the security of their own homes while the Afghan people will suffer greatly at the hands of the Taliban. Politicians will give congratulatory slaps on one another’s backs as they celebrate pulling US soldiers out of this country’s longest war, while those left behind helplessly endure the inevitable atrocities that will take place in our wake. Let me be clear: This poorly thought-out withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan, while popular domestically, will create a humanitarian crisis in the region that will eclipse the magnitude of most previous man-made crises. Let me be clear. The US military is executing the regress with amazing execution. It is the political sphere that appears to be winging it.
As I have stated before, one of the most important things we can do as US or Global citizens is to stay informed and pay better attention. The political industry cannot be an easy industry to work in. There are a host of considerations when making the hard calls. We do them a disservice by not paying attention to their actions. The temptation for politicians to make expedient decisions is very strong. As their constituents, we can assist them with making better thought-out decisions and to set expediency aside.
It is becoming clear that citizens need to pay closer attention to their political representatives. Only by staying informed will each of us have the right and capacity to speak into the process and ensure that sound decisions are being made, decisions that represent the heart and beliefs of the people who voted to put these men and women in office.
Stay informed, get involved.
Iran Using Raisi’s ‘Election’ to Pressure U.S. to Re-enter Nuclear Deal… https://www.investigativeproject.org/8944/iran-using-raisi-election-to-pressure-us-to-re
Biden Goes After China’s Cyber Attackers… https://www.defenseone.com/policy/2021/07/biden-goes-after-chinas-cyber-attackers/183854/
For your comments or questions about any of our digests please feel free to write to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org