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Afghanistan wasn’t ruined in a day

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Over the last week or so, evidence has proven that America is not interested in nation-building – not that it has a great track record – and global stability is no longer a major concern.

It doesn’t do much for American hegemony to see the painful dash to get out of Afghanistan; for some, it was reminiscent of Saigon’s disorderly retreat all those decades ago.

The US was in Vietnam – another cluster bomb of ineptitude – to stem the spread of communism and went into Afghanistan to stop it from becoming a launchpad for terror cells hell-bent on destroying the West.

After 20 years, Washington said enough was enough, and Joe Biden signalled the retreat of US troops from Afghanistan in a discreet surrender and admission of defeat.

It left a power vacuum the Taliban gladly obliged to fill, fanning its fighters across the country in a surprisingly rapid implosion of Afghan government resistance.

It did not say much about what the Americans and their allies had tried to build in the unforgiving landlocked country.

All that shiny US military hardware and training of the Afghan army – the first whiff of gunpowder and the armed forces capitulate without a fight.

For many, they weren’t quite sure what they were fighting for, was a regime rife with corruption worth saving?

The answer was in the lack of resistance the Taliban face when they flooded into Kabul.

It was followed by the mad rush to get out of the country, with thousands heading straight to the airport to get on a freedom flight.

Judging by the brutality by which the Taliban ruled last time around, nobody can feel safe, especially women and girls.

And there are the so-called ‘collaborators’ who worked for allied forces, foreign embassies, or international media.

All of them have targets on their backs, no matter what the Taliban declare.

While the world’s spotlight is on them, the Islamic fundamentalists proclaim to be an improved version of their previous selves.

More tolerant, accepting and forgiving.

Once the outside world slams the doors shut on Afghanistan, the Taliban will feel free to do as they please.

The thousands of people trying to leave the country certainly don’t believe Taliban 2.0 will be different from the medieval carnage 20 years ago.

Since the roof has caved in on the country, the international community raised its voice about the rights of girls and women.

It has pledged to try and get everyone out who faces Taliban retaliation for helping the allies, but many will get left behind.

If the Americans, NATO, and the UK wanted to make Afghanistan a better place, they went a strange way about doing so.

The sudden military U-turn has created a humanitarian disaster and instability that threatens the security of the West.

Moreover, the debacle has established another refugee flashpoint while there are fears Afghanistan will once again become a base for extremely dangerous terrorists with no means to track them.

There are also competing factions of hardcore fundamentalists wanting to control the lucrative drug trade in the country.

An enemy of the Taliban is Isis-K, who believe their rivals don’t go far enough on the road to global Islam.

Isis-K claimed responsibility for the suicide bomb attacks on Kabul airport this week, inflicting the third-deadliest single day for American forces in Afghanistan in the 20-year war.

Biden vowed that “America will not be intimidated” while scrambling to get Americans and their supporters out.

He promised the US would strike back against the terrorists “at any time”, this sounded hollow from a retreating superpower with a bloodied nose.

On top of a humanitarian and refugee crisis, aid agencies warn the overcrowded conditions in camps and at the airport could bring a new surge in coronavirus cases.

Less than 5% of Afghanistan’s population is fully vaccinated, and the health system is in tatters.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the US pulling out of Afghanistan in a shabby surrender — orchestrated by Trump and rubber-stamped by Biden – the world is no safer than when the Taliban was first in power.

It also leaves a sour taste to those veterans who sacrificed life and limb to bring stability and peace to Afghanistan.

And what do we tell the women, girls and others who will inevitably see their hard-fought rights and freedoms eroded?

If this is what international support and solidarity look like, Cyprus should be careful what it wishes for.