Afghanistan: The USA and its Allies Retreat
(An update by the CWO, August 22, 2021)
«The media, especially in the US, have been emphasising Biden’s role. Trump has not been slow to make propaganda over the chaos at Kabul airport to attack Biden’s competence, but this is a diversion from the main story. As we indicated over ten years ago in our article Afghanistan – Graveyard of Imperialist Ambition, the project “Operation Enduring Freedom” was already finished (Obama announced it was over in 2014 because it was clearly failing). By then it was already clear that the US invasion had only given birth to a series of corrupt governments made up of stitched together tribal factions. They have been busily enriching themselves on the money that is supposed to have been going to Afghanistan to build up its army to resist the Taliban. The Taliban is now having a fine old time posting videos of the interiors of their luxury houses (the owners having fled) on the outskirts of Mazar-i-Sharif, Kabul, and other cities. Of more material significance is the fact that this corruption grossly overstated the size of the Afghan army, as officials claimed the pay for around 100,000 so-called “ghost soldiers” who did not exist.
This is not a repeat of the exit from Saigon in 1975. At that time the US military had already left the country two years earlier. This retreat is far more desperate and historically significant. The US military were not due to completely exit the country until the end of this month, yet they have been overwhelmed and surprised by the speed of the Taliban takeover. However, for all his current diversionary bluster, the road to this second ignominious failure of the US to prop up an ailing puppet regime began with Trump. Not only did the Trump administration release many Taliban prisoners in 2018 (like Abdul Ghani Baradur, one of the four founding members of the Taliban who had been held since 2010) but they did so precisely to facilitate a “deal” with them. This came in the form of the Doha (Qatar) accord signed between the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (aka the Taliban) headed by Mullah Abdul Hakeem and Abdul Ghani Baradur in February 2020. It had three essential terms. We reproduce them verbatim below:
- The United States is committed to withdraw from Afghanistan all military forces of the United States, its allies, and Coalition partners, including all non-diplomatic civilian personnel, private security contractors, trainers, advisors, and supporting services personnel within fourteen months following announcement of this agreement.
- The United States and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan which is not recognized by the United States as a state and is known as the Taliban seek positive relations with each other and expect that the relations between the United States and the new post-settlement Afghan Islamic government as determined by the intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiations will be positive.
- The United States will seek economic cooperation for reconstruction with the new post-settlement Afghan Islamic government as determined by the intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiations, and will not intervene in its internal affairs.
It is clear that this is not only a surrender of any US right to have a say in the affairs of Afghanistan, but even abandons any idea that the then Kabul government of President Ghani would play much, if any part, in the post-US Afghan settlement. It was a blank cheque for the Taliban to take over, since all the other terms are just based on wishful thinking. Biden and Trump actually agreed that the US should stop fighting “forever wars”, and thus Biden happily followed the policy of the previous administration. He actually hung on in Afghanistan two months longer than this agreement specified, but the manner of the departure has been almost predictably incompetent. US forces held their Afghan allies in such contempt that they abandoned Bagram airbase without a word of warning. By the time Afghan government forces arrived there, the place had already been looted, and the Taliban inherited some powerful and sophisticated weaponry there and elsewhere.»