Afghanistan 14 years later. A long war with no winners but many defeated. First of all was defeated the strategy of the international coalition that in 2001, together with the United States, under the effect of the emotions and anger provoked by the attack on the Twin Towers of New York, entered the war. Was defeated also the hope to introduce in Afghanistan universally recognized civil rights. Was defeated peace, which has been a stranger to this country for the last 36 years. There was only one certainty: Wars in Afghanistan will never end and foreigners will never defeat local forces.
An blasphemous war that has only helped increase the number of victims, widows, orphans, and mutilated. A war unleashed by the reaction to the September 11 attack on America; but why is the Taliban regime in Kabul the one to blame? The accusation was based on the fact that the Taliban were offering hospitality to Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda was responsible for the terrorist act. But this had been known for years and in 1998 Al Qaeda had claimed it was responsible for the attacks on US embassies in Africa, and US launched cruise missiles against Al Qaeda bases in Afghanistan.
In 2001, however, the White House decided to remove the government in Kabul, with which, as the documents made public by the Freedom Act, first the President Clinton then Bush had maintained relations till August 2001.
On October 7, 2001, the United States and NATO (but not all of its member countries) began a war against the Taliban, not against Al Qaeda. In fact, within a few days they defeated the Taliban, but failed to capture the leaders of Al Qaeda and to decimate its men. The goal was, indeed, to remove the Taliban regime, but not due to the obscurantism and violation of civil rights, but for strategic reasons. Entering Afghanistan gave the possibility of a surprise attack on Iran as well as to push the boundaries of the former Soviet republics which were rich in mineral resources and hydrocarbons.
Civil rights were violated after the Russian defeat in 1989. Massoud, Rabbani and their associates, considered to be friends of the West, seized Kabul and chased the Russians. They did not handle power with democracy and freedom. The Taliban, who ousted them, followed the same strategy, except they were less cooperative with the West and with foreigners in general.
Fourteen years of war and almost nothing has changed. Twenty-five Afghan provinces are in conflict and at least twelve of them are in the hands of the Taliban. The government of Kabul, outside the big cities, is unable to control the territory which is often in the hands of criminal organizations. Large cities and even the capital are being attacked. Corruption reached appalling levels with President Karzai: the Kabul Bank scandal, the arrest of the president’s brother for drug trafficking are the most eloquent incidents. Ghani’s new fumbles.
Of course, in big cities schools reopened and universities started to work again. On the outskirts of Kabul were built Chinese malls where you can find products of all kinds. Herat is slowly – also due to Italy’s contribution (soldiers and cooperation) – finding gain the atmosphere for which it was called the Florence of Asia in the seventies. But there are still too many armed men on the streets of towns and villages.
The indigo of the burqas continues to punctuate the streets as flowers that do not bloom. Death penalty, disowning one’s wife and other laws, which derive from Sharia, have entered the jurisprudence of the new Afghanistan. Some women entered the Loya Jirga (the parliament), but their role is marginal even when they have government posts. Religions other than Islam are prohibited in public. Even the Sisters of Mother Teresa of Calcutta wear plainclothes: as when there were the Taliban.
A war triggered by anger and interests, not to follow the Roman saying “si vis pacem para bellum”. Bin Laden was found and killed only ten years after September 11, but Al Qaeda continues to exist in the shape of many streams scattered around the world. Daesh and ISIS are replacing it with ferocity, brutality, and threatens to expand in Afghanistan where it accuses of treason even the Taliban.
A failure that should make everyone reflect. A lesson to learn now that winds of war blow in the Middle East. The United States does not seem to be able to learn lessons. Vietnam has not taught it anything. Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria prove as well that weapons alone cannot solve the problems. They are scalpels, but they need to be supported by therapy in order to handle the maladies. Yet, so far we have seen only bombs. And children in tears, or dead.