Now that the United States and its NATO allies are leaving Afghanistan, unable to justify or even explain why their supposed humanitarian mission led to such an embarrassing defeat, the Afghan people are left with the challenge of weaving their own national narrative, one that must transcend the Taliban and their enemies to include all Afghans, regardless of their politics or ideology.
The lifting of sanctions, crucial for the Taliban if they hope to avoid famines and take the first step towards official diplomatic recognition, looks as though it will happen slowly at the whim of U.S. President Joe Biden. Indeed, the future of Afghanistan looks like it will be made on the United States’ terms.
The West had 20 years to advance the cause of social development in Afghanistan. Its failure opened the door for the return of the Taliban.
As the Taliban retakes control of Afghanistan, China and Russia won’t make timid pleas to Washington to place forces on the ground in the country. The militarist path has been deemed a flawed move by both sides. In the coming days, the Sino-Russian bloc will likely prioritize political solutions, thereby promoting a more proactive position for the SCO and emphasizing the importance of regional frameworks.
The Afghans are largely glad to see the back of the U.S. occupation, to be one more Saigon in a long sequence. But this is not a victory for humanity. It will not be easy for Afghanistan to emerge out of these nightmare decades, but the desire to do so can still be heard.
Editor's Note: The Taliban victory over the weekend and the evacuation of U.S. nationals cries out for context. That is why Toward Freedom is publishing this article that was submitted prior to the weekend's events. "Women are more mobilized, but they are not a powerful social movement. Afghanistan’s more liberal and left social forces are active underground and are not an organized force. These forces include the educated sections, who do not want extremist groups to drag the country into another proxy war. That proxy war would be between the Taliban, the U.S.-backed government in Kabul, and other militant groups that are no less dangerous than the Taliban or the U.S. government."