President Trump is very eager to bring the American troops home from Afghanistan and take a victory lap before the upcoming US November presidential elections.
On October 7, 2001, following the tragedy of September 11, 2001 terrorists’ attacks in the United States by Al-Qaeda, the George W. Bush administration started attacking Afghanistan and overthrew the Taliban regime for refusing to turn over the architect of the attacks, Osama Bin-Laden. Ironically, nineteen years later, the US administration is trying to make peace with the same group whom we overthrew in 2001.
The United States invaded Afghanistan in order to apprehend the Al-Qaeda leader, Osama Bin-Laden, dismantling their terror networks and ensuring that the terrorists will not be able to launch any future attacks from this region against the US and its Western Allies. So far, The United States has spent about 1.1 trillion, about 140 billion direct assistance to Afghanistan. Additionally, thousands of lives from all sides to the conflict have been lost.
As a result of the US and NATO involvement in Afghanistan, considerable progress has been made in many spheres of life, but many challenges remain. Lack of security, terrorism, drug cultivation and addiction, corruption, ethnic polarization, poverty and unemployment have had a tremendous negative impact on Afghan life and pose many challenges for the Afghan leadership. The most recent political agreement stemming from the 2019 Presidential elections conflict between Drs. Ghani and Abdullah is a welcome news for the Afghan population across the country. With this conflict behind, the two leaders can work together to deal with the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic and concentrate on the peace process which has eluded the Afghans since 1978.
The US peace initiative with the Taliban is a noble goal providing it is done in a coherent and thoughtfully principled manner that will safeguard the interest of the United States and allies in the region and will bring peace to the people of Afghanistan. I hope the United States will not repeat the mistakes of the past and abandon the Afghan people again. After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the subsequent heroic resistance by the Afghan freedom fighters with the support of the United States and its allies, the Soviet leadership was forced to withdraw from the Afghan soil. Declaring victory in the cold war, the US left the Afghans in the mercy of some bad characters who had been involved in Afghan jihad against the Soviets. Osama bin-Laden was one of these bad characters whose terrorist attacks in the US caused much devastation. Now, my country, the US has come a full circle by finding itself precisely in the same predicament that the Soviets experienced during their invasion of Afghanistan. The soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev had called their Afghan War as a “bleeding wound.” Unfortunately, the Afghan war for the US has become a “draining wound” with much bloodshed for the Afghan population. My hope is that President Trump will not use a band-aid to cover this” draining wound” while seeking an exit strategy from Afghanistan during peace negotiations with the Taliban.
Amid the US peace discussions with the Taliban, I would like to mention three recent unforgivable terrorist attacks targeting Afghans during most vulnerable moments that need to be brought to the attention of the world community.
- Deadly Suicide Attack in Nangarhar: On May 12, a terrorist detonated his explosives in the middle of a funeral ceremony, killing 24 people and injuring scores of others. This occurred as the mourners had gathered during the funeral of a district Chief of Police in the eastern Afghan province.
- Barbaric Attack on a Maternity Hospital in Kabul: On the same day, terrorists stormed a maternity hospital ran by Doctors without Borders, systematically attacking mothers in labor, pregnant women and babies. Three women were killed in the delivery room, eight women were murdered in the hospital beds and one woman gave up her life besides an incubator, shielding her baby who survived. Ten women survived in the shelter of the hospital safe rooms. As the attacks continued around her, one woman gave birth and the mid-wife helped cut the umbilical cord with bare hands while using headscarves to wrap up the baby and her mother. After this ordeal was over, 24 people had lost their lives. Eighteen babies became motherless, a policeman, two young boys and a midwife were among the victims.
- Massacre of 25 Afghan Sikhs in their house of Worship: On March 25, gunmen took 25 lives of the Afghan Sikh and Hindu minority worshipers and wounded eight by their savage attacks. This is not the first time that this minority group has been murdered by terrorists. In 2018, 19 Sikhs and Hindus were killed in a terrorist attack in the eastern city of Jalalabad.
The people of Afghanistan have been dreaming peace for many years, only to wake up by the nightmare of violence and horror. The three above atrocities committed against helpless women in the critical moments of delivery, the attack on defenseless mourners during grief and the carnage in the holy place of worship are unimaginable crimes against humanity.
I appeal to the President of the United States and to the members of the US Congress to investigate these mayhems and bring the culprits to justice. After all, we owe this to the Afghan nation who has fought our fight and who have endured so much on this mutual destiny of sacrifices. If we do not act, we will be condemned by history for not practicing what we preach to the world as a superpower. Most important, if we do not facilitate a genuinely thoughtful peace for Afghanistan, the agony of the Afghan people will not only continue, but also the US and its interests will remain vulnerable to terrorism in the future.
Dr. Matin Royeen Ph.D. is an Afghan American educator in Chicago. He can be reached at: [email protected]