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Four decades of war: “Ending a dragging conflict in Afghanistan”

By Rangin Dadfar Spanta- “To reach the possible things, we should fight impossible ones,” Hermann Hesse

The Afghan war is going to enter its 40th year on April 27th this year, 40 years of war, killing and destruction of structures and social relationships. Afghan war is one of the longest wars in the history of human being, while this is the longest one in the contemporary history after the war of Columbia.

Putting an end to the war and pulling Afghanistan out of the evil circle of violence and killing is the absolute order.

Neither the April 27, 1978 coup de taut caused prosperity, nor its ‘national democracy’ program as the first stairs towards socialism succeeded. Unlike, the coup with violence and anger caused many killings and breaking of the social textures.

The jihad not only led the country to independence and justice, but turned it to the main ground of the hot conflicts in the cold war. Finally, the Soviet Union was defeated and withdrew from Afghanistan. If we name the April coup as the birth of this tragedy, which truly is the same, this period lasted from 1978 to 1989. In 1992, Dr. Najib’s government collapsed and subsequently, Afghanistan went to the inter-parties war that finally, the government of Mujahedin collapsed.

Western countries, their Arab allies and especially Pakistan undoubtedly used Afghanistan as a tool in confrontation with the Soviet Union, and made the jihad of Afghans as a proxy war, the war in which the Western countries with the United States on top, and the Arabic countries with Pakistan’s custodian, regularly encouraged, organized,expanded and deepened religious extremism. After the withdrawal of the Soviet Union, Afghanistan was actually left to Pakistan’s guardianship. At the end, Afghanistan turned into the main battlefield of the jihadi groups and a penetration arena for Pakistan. In 1994, a group under the name of Taliban but under direct supervision of Pakistani officers and international jihadis, captured most parts of Afghanistan. In this adventure, some Arabic countries were partners of the invader and some Western states were organizers of invading our country. Our people resisted against Pakistan’s invasion which lasted from 1994 to 2001.

On September 11, 2001, the al-Qaeda attacked the United States and killed many innocent people. Soon after the attack, the US militarily invaded our country and defeated the Taliban government with the help of the resistance groups, Afghan people and almost all of the world’s countries. Then, the interim administration (2001), transitional authority (2002) and elected government (2004) were formed, the constitution was approved and a flourishing economic and political time appeared. But the war and bloodshed did not finish. Taliban were re-empowered that caused their war and suicide attacks relying on Pakistan. Taliban today (2018) are not only a small group with few fighters, they have parts of our country under control and punish our people with unexampled cruelty. They are engaged in the drug trade more than the past and Afghan power and political elites have admitted the bitter reality of their presence. The mistaken US strategy in fight against terrorism, bad governance in Afghanistan, ethnicity, Pakistan’s increasing and expanded intervention and the deep crisis of democracy in our country helped Taliban’s reinforcement as a real power. However, war, bloodshed and lawlessness remained as a basic reality and is expanding day after day.

The consequences of war and deepening of government rule crisis, changes in the power texture and also the international formations are that political consensus in Afghanistan and international consensus for governance and security get torn apart. The NationalUnity Government not only promoted as a factor of strengthening the national unity, democracy and rule of law, but turned to a basic factor for the current political crisis. Russia and Iran once members of the international coalition for governance in Afghanistan, are now in contest with other members of the world coalition led by the United States. The fact is that Russia that was a supporter of the Afghan people in fight with Taliban and Pakistan, is today in relationship with Taliban for some reasons including the real and possible threat by Daesh that thinks is born by the Western countries’ policies. The People’s Republic of China and most of the Central Asian nations are concerned of the developments of Afghanistan and their possible threats to their own security and stability. Competitions between regional powers (Iran and Saudi Arabia) in the Middle East, has a destructive reflection over our country. The international contests after the collapse of the Soviet Union under the US leadership, crisis in Ukraine, Crimea and the Super Powers’ competition in the West Asia (Middle East) and also in the East and Southeast Asia have encouraged the regional and international powers to hold competitions in this part of the world more than anyother time in the past. The signs of a new hot proxy warof the hostile powers are clearly visible in Afghanistan.

To succeed an unconventional war, we need a series of political and military pre-conditions. The most important of these pre-conditions are:

People in large groups should not support partisan movements to neutralize terrorists’ accesses to the public bases through supporting the government. People should play a very active role in this regard so that terrorists cannot open an account on their neutrality. The unprecedented prolonged war, war concentration in the rural areas, bombardments of residential areas, increasing civilian casualties and bad governance, corruption and lack of legal safety, lack of rule of law, have caused some people’s sympathy with the Taliban. In some rural areas, people provide recruitment opportunity for Taliban in addition to the Pakistan-based seminaries that produce fighters for the group. Criminal and drug trade networks, runners of illicit and mafia economy are either in active and structural cooperation with terrorism or provide opportunity of the war economy that keeps war ongoing.

The anti-government war power that possesses a stable social and religious backstageand enjoys recruitment beyond the border. Pakistan is Taliban’s biggest and most active supporter and is a confident backer for them and has never stopped backing them.Volunteer warriors from Pakistan and other countries as well as the Pakistan-based seminaries provide recruitment for Taliban. Pakistani military and intelligence are good trainers, financial supporters and advisers for Taliban and other international fighters and terrorists. Today, more terrorists are trained and armed in Pakistan, injured terrorists are treated in Pakistani health facilities, their leaders are secure under the Pakistani intelligence umbrella, their children are going to Pakistani schools and even some of these terrorists have trade business. Whoever that wants to come out of Pakistan control, is either killed or imprisoned. The continuation of Taliban’s leadership and inner strength is provided by this method. Moreover, the breakdown in the international consensus helped Taliban to tighten relations with more countries. Now more countries accept Taliban as a reality and as an inevitable part of discussions. Taliban’s dependence and slavery culture help them not to have problem in attracting more countries’ support. This is a fact that Taliban today are less isolated compared to the past. The US and its allies’ war on terror strategy does not focus on defeating Taliban and stopping Pakistan’s support for them in spite of suffering casualties and financial losses. President Trump’s new ‘Southeast Asia’ strategy is more based on rhetoric than practical measures for victory. The West cannot make Pakistan kneel even if their economic aids are cut in all dimensions. Islamabad simply overcame problems born by the US aids cut in the wake of its nuclear weapon test and export of atomic technology, at a time that Pakistan’s strategic ally the People’s Republic of China was far away from its current capabilities and Islamabad’s relation with Russia was based on hostility, not on cooperation as is today.

Touching what mentioned above, we need a legitimate and powerful government on public bases to defeat terrorism. Such a government should be relied on people, represent its people, and collect the masses of people around national goals to reach people’s goals. This government should expand and strengthen national solidarity. Such government should guard the people’s lives, provide them with social and economic services, implement the law equally across the country and illustrate its legal, democratic and lawful solemnity. A government far from the law, with extreme ethnic approach and dependent on the foreign countries cannot gather people in fight against terrorism.

An unconventional war like the Afghan war will end just when one of the sides feelsan imminent defeat and accept handing arms and join the reintegration, or try to achieve goals through discussion that it could not gain through war. None of the Afghan war sides are in such stances, Taliban and their supporters that have recently captured more grounds through the war and have internationally found more states for talks, are not feeling necessity to talks leading to agreements. In this condition, if any discussion takes place, this is the people of Afghanistan to pay a heavy price even with losing their rights, democratic freedoms and national independence.

Wars like the Afghan war can lead to peace when the two sides reach an impasse and have no hope for victory. The Afghan war is not in such position and both sides think they can defeat the other one. Such position causes more bloodshed and we don’t know what will be the aftermaths of the war for the people of Afghanistan due to power make up and current uncertainties in the national and international arenas (I would like to emphasize that mentioning the war sides does not mean to legitimizing terrorism. The war of our people and security against Taliban and Pakistan’s invasion is undoubtedly legitimate to defend our independence. My words point to the war impasse).

The Afghan war will end when backers of the war sides reach an agreement, or one of the backers accepts to stop backing one side that makes the side unable to continue war and violence. We have several examples of such wars in the history, such as the Vietnam war in the 1970s and the Iraqi Kurdistan war (1975) as the result of the Algiers agreement between Iran’s King and Saddam.

None of the abovementioned conditions or any other ones that I do not know, but are necessary to end the war is seen in today’s Afghanistan. Today, Afghanistan is returned to the field of competition and confrontation of the countries with hostile and conflicting interests and regional and international strategies. The Super powers, regional states and some of our neighbors are keeping the war flaming through supporting the war sides and the only victim of this 40-year-long war is the people of Afghanistan. I personally did not think until recently that Afghanistan’s impartiality could be a solution. But now, I think that if our strategies in the past did not lead to peace through a bloody test and we are seeing another military makeup, we should have the courage to learn from our past mistakes and seek a peaceful solution to our problems with a radical approach. I know very well that what I would like to offer, has problems, uncertainties and faults. Our politicians and diplomats have already touched this matter, but this could probably be the most possible way although seen impossible.

The offer:

Afghanistan needs to become impartial with an international guarantee just like the current Turkmenistan or Austria after the World War II. The hostile countries in an international guarantee should use no forcefor their strategic interests. Based on an international agreement, no force out of the government should be supported by foreign countries. Based on an international consensus, Afghanistan should own a powerful government that will protect its independence and impartial in its foreign policy.

How can we obtain impartiality?

Political, social and civil elites of our country will agree on the impartiality of an independent Afghanistan with territorial sovereignty and democratic political structure through peaceful talks without resorting to violence, escaping rules or relying on the forceful foreign presence.

Foreign players of the Afghan crisis, regional and international power as well as our neighbors will agree on this principle and respect the wish of Afghan people in an international agreement.

All military and financial supports for Taliban will be stopped and Taliban will be forced to emerge as a peaceful political process and through this, will take part in the political and social life of Afghanistan. This commitment is sponsored by our neighbors, regional countries and world powers.

Afghanistan will commit to respect independence and sovereignty of the neighboring, regional and world countries. Based on the principle of peaceful co-existence, Afghanistanwill commit that not only interfere in the internal issues of other countries, but will not allow any destructive activities against other countries through its territory. Afghanistan will not join any international military treaties or organization.

In case of development in stopping foreign support for Taliban, foreign military and intelligence bases in Afghanistan will be removed in a time that does not harm security and political system in Afghanistan. Afghanistan will not let any country establish military base in its territory or use Afghan military bases.

All the agreements and commitments will be confirmed and sponsored by the engaged countries in Afghanistan’s affairs and the United Nations. The countries that have reached the agreement cannot interfere in Afghanistan’s issues or work in the benefit of political parties inside Afghanistan. In case of any country’s violation of the agreements, the United Nations and engaged countries have to intervene.

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