Afghanistan is also sometimes called “the graveyard of empires”, which many historians contest is not entirely true- but the gist of this nickname of sorts comes from the fact that no country or empire has succeeded in conquering and ruling Afghanistan.
Source – The Economist
While the historians who do contest the validity of the title above may rightly do so by making their own citations in history, as far back as when Alexander sought to conquer the world, one cannot overlook the recent events that have taken place in Afghanistan.
No one expected Afghanistan to fall to the Taliban as rapidly as it did. People expected the three hundred thousand strong Afghan army, armed with advanced American weapons, to put up a more serious fight to protect democracy in their country.
To protect the democracy which the United States had instilled in Afghanistan after spending more than two trillion dollars over a span of two decades. The US had entered Afghanistan in 2001 for their war against terror. The Taliban had taken control over the country for the first time in 1996 after a civil war that had lasted for about seven years from 1989 to 1996 before which the Soviets had made an unsuccessful attempt at establishing a communist government there.
Source – Deccan Herald
To highlight the major happenings, the Americans in 2021, the Soviets in 1989, and the British in 1842 had all had to leave Afghanistan after their attempts at either colonizing Afghanistan or establishing a central systematic government that upheld their ideals of democracy or communism were in troubled waters if they hadn’t already seen a bloody end.
One may ponder as to what makes Afghanistan so difficult to conquer and rule, and whatever may the reasons be, why have countries and empires battled expensive bloody battles over this mostly mountainous, deserted stretch of land in central Asia.
The major factors that make Afghanistan a difficult place to conquer are firstly, its geography. The mountains are difficult to navigate through and the harsh winters make it difficult to fight in. Also, Afghanistan isn’t a country of mighty cities but of thousands of isolated villages and tribes with varying ethnicities which makes it very difficult to manage.
About what makes Afghanistan so important is the fact that it lies along the silk road. It is a landlocked country with great geopolitical and strategic importance in the region. It was the only country in the region that gave open access to the United States and NATO in the region. Considering the geographic importance, the fact that instability in the region has permitted terrorist outfits in the past to use Afghan territory for training and other activities are vital points other countries have to take into account as they prepare their plans for Afghanistan now.
Even as the United States negotiated their terms of exit with the Taliban as they withdrew from Afghanistan, they have clearly no plans of recognizing the Taliban government and hold their stance on maintaining an” over the horizon “military capability to address security concerns and will continue to strike perceived terrorist targets in Afghanistan and the Middle East. The European Union could possibly provide help in the form of humanitarian aid and development programmes which could give them some leverage in exerting some influence on how Afghanistan is governed.
Afghanistan’s fall to the Taliban does affect Russia’s security situation to an extent as the possibility of an influx of Islamist extremists and terrorists to Central Asia increases. Yet Russia is in a much stronger position now than it was in 1996 and while some even rejoice at the disastrous exit of the US, Russia remains largely ambivalent about the situation in Afghanistan.
Even though China has had longstanding dealings with the Taliban, they do fear the consequences of having an Islamist regime next door. Instability in the region may not impact China directly but China is concerned about how it will affect Pakistan where they have made massive investments. Pakistan on the other hand have had a historically strong relationship with the Taliban and is also encouraging the world to accept their new regime.
Source – Forbes
Even as countries remain hesitant of supporting a radical organization that restricts the freedom of women and which has taken extreme measures to protect their laws which themselves many believe to be an extreme interpretation of Islam, it is in their own interests in providing basic aid in the form of food and supplies and more to avert an impending refugee crisis. What will happen in the years to come is difficult to say as a lot depends on whether the Taliban will succeed in establishing a stable government amidst all the threats that they are facing from terrorist outfits and the challenges that lie in reviving the economy. Only time will tell if the Taliban will succeed in governing Afghanistan and if it does, if the world accepts Taliban’s Afghanistan.
Written by- Rutvik Sappadla
Edited by- Jasmine Kaur Bhatia
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