By M. A. Saki

Something like Astana can be helpful for Afghanistan: analyst

September 3, 2021 - 16:8

TEHRAN - Martin Love, an American political analyst, believes that an initiative like the Astana process can be an efficient mechanism to restore peace in Afghanistan.

“Spitefulness won’t help anyone, not even the U.S. and its allies. Something like Astana could be a positive move,” Love tells the Tehran Times.

U.S. exit from Afghanistan has raised concerns about the stability of this country as a pivotal point in the region.

While some political observers predict that the Taliban will commit violence against its people, others believe that the Taliban have changed and they are ready to contribute to establishing an inclusive government.

“Peace in Afghanistan is in my view entirely a function of whether the Taliban holds to its assertions that it is not the same Taliban of 20 years ago, that it will be or become inclusive, that it won’t treat its subjects badly, that it will adopt the reforms it says it has internally and as well reached out to neighbors or other Asian countries for assistance and relatively ‘normal’ diplomatic relations,” the American analyst notes.

Following is the text of the interview:

Q: How do you evaluate the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan after a two-decade war?

A: There is no other way to characterize the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan but to say it has been chaotic, poorly organized and absolute Hell for those wanting to leave a country set to suffer even more after 20 years of occupation and warfare. The sole defense for the Biden Administration is that the Taliban was not expected to take over so quickly, but that’s an indictment of the U.S. “intelligence” apparatus which has shown no intelligence whatsoever. The withdrawal is an absolute stain on perceptions of the U.S., worse even than the withdrawal from Vietnam in 1975 which was chaotic enough after the NVA took over Saigon. The sole upside of this debacle is that the U.S. may think more than twice about even invading and trying to occupy another country again, assuming it even could afford such a move.

"Afghanistan exit is an absolute stain on perceptions of the U.S., worse even than the exit from Vietnam in 1975."Q: Do you think Afghanistan's neighbors can present an effective initiative to restore peace in the country?

A: Peace in Afghanistan is in my view entirely a function of whether the Taliban holds to its assertions that it is not the same Taliban of 20 years ago, that it will be or become inclusive, that it won’t treat its subjects badly, that it will adopt the reforms it says it has internally and as well reaches out to neighbors or other Asian countries for assistance and relatively “normal” diplomatic relations. This of course remains to be seen. The adjustment to any new regime in-country is difficult, especially for Afghanistan’s citizens, who eventually must be led in such a way that Afghanis ultimately welcome rule by natives and begin to feel like it is out from under the thumb of Americans and NATO oppression. But this can be helped by other countries. It has been suggested that the U.S. maintain its embassy in Kabul and offer assistance to the new government, with no strings attached. But it’s anyone’s guess whether the U.S. has the wisdom to accept all the changes. Spitefulness won’t help anyone, not even the U.S. and its allies. Something like Astana could be a positive move.

Q: What are the implications of withdrawal from Afghanistan for U.S. Arab allies? Can they rely on America in times of crisis? 

A: U.S. Arab allies are watching closely, as they must. Is the U.S. a reliable ally? Can it be trusted any longer? We know for one thing that the U.S. seems to want to shift its focus from the Mideast and West Asia to confront the rise of China and Chinese influence. There is reason to assume that the Belt and Road initiative to bind together West Asian countries and others in the region like Iran in mutual trade relations and more is probably in the offing. The U.S. has been trying for 20 years to preclude various accords suggested by China and its current Russian partners. Absent another war in Asia this is something that’s likely to fail and this failure is a good thing for peace in the region. One may be able to view the U.S. exit as a critical turning point and the beginning of the end of the hegemonic Empire the U.S. has tried to build and maintain since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The divide and conquer meme by the U.S. must be blocked finally at a time when the U.S. itself is in political and social disarray.

Q: Don’t you predict a civil war in Afghanistan? 

A: There is one notable pocket of objection and resistance to the Taliban in Afghanistan and maybe others of less importance. However, I do not expect a civil war. But this is contingent on the Taliban acting in such a way that it does not alienate Afghanis further as they adjust to the new government. And international assistance, too, is virtually required to help make sure civil war does not erupt. One thing seems certain: if conditions deteriorate badly, it is very unlikely the U.S. would attempt to re-invade and occupy Afghanistan again. The U.S. public, generally as much as it may condemn Biden for the exit and the horrific way it has been managed, will not support more American adventurism and imperialism especially there. Biden is in enough trouble as it is.

Q: What are the main misconceptions by American leaders?

A: American leaders have been stuffed with hubris and exceptionalism notions for far too long. Americans are waking up to the unsustainable aspects of it all, are tired of Neocon-inspired wars, and struggling enough with their own problems in a declining Imperium such as a weak economy, monetary malfeasance, inflation, Covid, rising poverty and other ills. The primary misconception is that the U.S. can solve problems and make the world a better place, but it cannot do this with military moves, and this has been proven especially of late. The U.S. has shot its wad and the only thing that can make a difference now is a strong humanitarian focus that is real and not a false one wrapped in military misadventures it really cannot afford any longer. Vast profits have been made for the wrong people for far too long, In Afghanistan, the U.S. did very little to improve conditions for Afghans. The infrastructure there remains mostly as it has been forever primitive, despite a two-decade-long occupation.


 

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