Afghanistan’s neighbours need to step in if they want stability | International News Asia
The withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan exposes the country’s neighbors to a critical choice. With the withdrawal of foreign troops and the advancement of Taliban fighters, they will have to decide whether to cooperate to stabilize the country or turn it into a battlefield for regional interests again. This decision will not only determine developments in Afghanistan, but will also determine developments in the entire region.
So far, all signs point to the latter. Participants in the region have expanded their support for the Taliban and Islamic State (ISIS) organizations, which intensified their violent attacks in Afghanistan. The Afghans have little influence on the intervention of regional powers, and they will do what they have been doing-countering the militants, fleeing abroad, or die.
But chaos will not be contained within Afghanistan. It will inevitably spread to the entire region and destabilize the entire region. If our neighboring countries want to ensure peace within their borders, they will have to abandon backdoor transactions and make a paradigm shift in the way they treat Afghanistan, seeking strict regional cooperation to stabilize the country.
In the past few weeks, the courageous Taliban have made tremendous progress on the battlefield. Conquered more than 100 districts, and its fighters have surrounded most of the provincial capitals, ready to launch a major offensive to seize it.
They also controlled some key border crossings, which allowed them to derive substantial income from goods entering Afghanistan and cut off the supply chain when they chose to put pressure on the government and the Afghan people. The Afghan army was unprepared for the Taliban’s sudden attack, poor leadership and serious morale crisis, and failed to stop it from advancing.
At the same time, the Afghan branch of ISIL expanded its presence and operational capabilities, carrying out large-scale attacks in Kabul and other major cities.
At the same time, the production of illicit drugs has also reached a record high. In May, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reported that compared with 2019, there was a 37% increase in opium poppy cultivation last year. Drug production and smuggling provide a rich source of income for the Taliban. The connection between armed groups and the drug mafia empowers the latter, making it stronger than ever before, forming a huge transnational network that extends to Iran, Pakistan, Central Asian countries, and beyond Europe and the United States. East Asia.
If the Taliban’s military rule or another full-scale proxy war, the entire region will become unstable, which will have a ripple effect on the rest of Asia and even Europe.
This will inevitably trigger a large-scale refugee crisis, reminiscent of the crisis following the Soviet-Arabic War in the 1980s or the recent Syrian war. Turkey and neighboring countries have already felt the first wave of this exodus.
The war in Afghanistan over the past four years gave birth to a more violent “jihad” ideology. The regional “jihadist” movement rejoiced in what they believed was the embarrassing failure of the United States and would inevitably turn Afghanistan into a strategic base for its international operations.
More importantly, the belief that the most powerful global power has been defeated will inspire other militant groups in the region and elsewhere to strengthen their violent tactics, believing that they will also be in power eventually. Pakistan will be more vulnerable than any other country, because the rapid expansion of violent ideology has threatened the country’s stability.
The Pakistani Taliban and other Pakistani militants are likely to launch a violent rebellion across the country, hoping to overthrow the government and establish the Taliban regime.
Iran will also be threatened by the hardline Sunni regime of its neighbors. In recent years, the country has suffered many terrorist attacks, and unless the climax of extremism and terrorism is curbed, such attacks will only increase. At the same time, the victory of the Taliban will inspire religious extremist circles throughout Central Asia.
As far as we are concerned, since the Taliban ruled the country in the 1990s, Afghans have changed culturally, politically, and demographically. We have a highly educated and thriving young generation who never knew the rule of the Taliban. They are unlikely to accept the dramatic setbacks of our achievements in media, art, medicine, education and sports.
We will fight back, but we need our neighbors to stop cultivating extremist theorists who do not abide by the principles of humanity in the 21st century. Those who think they can control the Taliban and other extreme forces are delusional. After all, these groups are driven by ideology rather than rational thinking.
The atrocities committed by the Taliban in the past few weeks are similar to those during their rule of the country and ISIL’s atrocities in Syria and Iraq. From executing prisoners to killing civilians, plundering government agencies and people’s property, imposing religious taxes and even forced marriages, the organization’s behavior shows its evil nature and the fact that it is not bound by any rules or values. 21st century.
Therefore, regional powers must take this threat seriously and take action before Afghanistan falls into turmoil and turns into a drug-extremist country. They should urgently launch a multilateral cooperation framework to mobilize the region around a common security goal: stabilizing Afghanistan. The role of Pakistan and Iran in this regard is particularly important because it is well known that these countries shelter and support the Taliban and other armed groups and maintain extensive influence over them.
Now is the time to make a historic decision about the future of our region. Do we want to live in a peaceful region based on the values ??of tolerance, progress, and coexistence, or continue to engage in destructive, never-ending conflict zero-sum games? The United States and NATO can choose between staying in Afghanistan or leaving. But we Afghans and our neighbors do not. The choices made in the coming weeks and months will determine our common future.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.