5 July 2014, 14:33

West unable to bring Afghanistan back to normal again - Politics Prof.

West unable to bring Afghanistan back to normal again - Politics Prof.

The elections are not over yet, as they are still contested, but the thing is that regardless of what the outcome of the elections is going to be, Afghanistan is heading towards a civil war, or rather has already entered the stage, says Abdulkader Sinno, Associate Professor of Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies at Indiana University in his interview with radio VR.

"If Abdullah Abdullah wins the election, the Pashtun are probably going to increase the support of the Taliban because they never did accept a non-Pashtun ruler of Afghanistan in the past and it is unlikely that they will accept one now."

And if Ashraf Ghani takes the lead, then "the minorities are already rearming and getting ready for civil war". The expert cites the fact that they have no stake in the state and apparently would want to separate or enter civil war to control their own areas.

However, the other of VR’s experts on the subject, David Gibbs, Professor of History and Government at the University of Arizona, is sure that whatever the outcome of the election, Afghanistan stands all the chances of repeating Iraq’s fate in that it has also demonstrated "peroculism and poor leadership":

"Afghanistan has a tradition of ethnic and religious separation and differences and being able to manage these multicultures together would require extremely delicate political maneuvering, which in all probability won’t be shown by whichever government wins in the election."

There’s no good answer, or good solution either to the current Afghan instability, Mr. Gibbs goes on to say. He notes that geographically it’s a very difficult country to govern, while historically the central government hasn’t had much power even before the wars began. And no less significant is the fact that the thirty plus years of warfare have set up a tradition of warlordism.

"That’s going to make it a bit of a question whether the country is governable at all."

Both experts agree the Taliban have always been an utterly repugnant force and they remain so. The Afghans haven’t, though, showcased any affection for the US troops in the area either, adds Mr. Gibbs.

The US has reasons to leave Afghanistan, other than feeling its inability to do something in the area, he makes a point. For the US it’s an important assumption that it’s a big power and it doesn’t want to be in a position of losing war, like it lost the war in Vietnam, Mr. Gibbs says. "And the idea is to withdraw from Afghanistan." But making believe they are not defeated, turning over the Afghans. "If the Afghans are defeated, it’s their defeat." Importantly enough, the 30-year war in Afghanistan is the longest in the US history, which, for one thing, has left the public exhausted, and, for another one, cost the United States a pretty lot of money. So, the US has had to wake up to reality and take the decision to leave the area. "The US can’t continue," Mr. Gibbs says.


He is sure the effect of the troops’ withdrawal will still be negative, since the army and the leadership are apparently incapable of halting the ongoing civil war, like it once happened in Iraq.

Prof. Sinno is also absolutely certain that the attacks in Afghanistan will massively increase once the US troops leave the area. Even more so, since they are already on the rise, with the Taliban "bidding the time preserving the forces and at this point they are ready to go on the offensive".


Most of the US forces are out now, Mr. Sinno states. "More than three quarters of them are out."

He goes on to say there’s virtually not enough US forces to enter the fray and support Afghan forces. The latter have been suffering tremendously in ANA [Afghan National Army] under the assault of the Taliban, with many of those attacks being "not important" simply because "there’s no news coverage in those areas". Mr. Sinno shares the sad figures with radio VR, saying hundreds upon hundreds are dying in the Afghani armed forces and many more are deserting. "We don’t see cons of that because there’s no reporting of them and of course the Afghan National Army is not going to report how many soldiers are deserting. That goes to the morale." The conclusion he makes sounds not very uplifting indeed: the country is re-disintegrating already, and with that with the withdrawal of US forces there’s sure to be more attacks and the country will likely desolate into a civil war.

The West is for now unable to help improve the way things stand in Afghanistan, which is something it has already showcased, Mr. Sinno points out.

To prove the point he goes on to say the West has tried "all it can" as it previously deployed 140,000-strong force in the embattled region and it did not manage to stabilize the country "the way it wanted to". Both opposing sides do not show any willingness to sit down at the negotiating table, since they have no incentives for that, the expert suggests.

"The Taliban have been refusing to enter the negotiations simply because they have no reason to, because they are winning frankly in the areas and Pakistan also has no reason to stabilize Afghanistan right now simply because the regime in the minorities is too close to India, its main rival in the region". "No one tends even they wish to stabilize Afghanistan," the expert ruefully concludes.

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