One year ago, the U.S. armed forces withdrew from Afghanistan, creating a refugee crisis and leaving the Taliban in control. Many professors and the former Afghan ambassador to the U.S. are still reeling over the impacts.
A group of panelists congregated via Zoom on Tuesday to reflect and further discuss the U.S. armed force’s withdrawal from Afghanistan and the country’s current situation under Taliban leadership.
The panel served to spread awareness about the one-year anniversary of the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from the area and to inform attendees about Afghanistan’s past, present and uncertain future.
Said Taib Jawad, a former Afghan Ambassador to the United States, United Kingdom and Russia, said Afghanistan is currently in a deep crisis.
“Afghans are facing grave humanitarian violation, poverty, reparation, depression and uncertainty,” Jawad said.
Jawad stated that the complete withdrawal of U.S. Armed Forces has had a detrimental impact on the Afghans. He explained that the Taliban, over the past year, engaged with the Afghans in a manner that demonstrates their dominance and desire to have complete control.
“And so the best they can offer is come here, submit your will and we will let you live but that’s basically it,” Jawad said.
Nilofar Sakhi, a research fellow at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and professional lecturer of international affairs said the Taliban’s mission is taking away the rights and silencing the voices of the Afghans.
“So the first five months of the Taliban takeover they had a strategy of suppressing the segment of society that was progressive — civil society activists, human rights advocates, human rights defenders, journalists, particularly rights defenders, minorities,” Sakhi said.
Sakhi further explained that the Taliban intentionally targeted the media and Afghans who attempted to share any information about the Taliban’s plans or their treatment towards the Afghans.
“If intellectuals appeared in the media they detained them. If journalists tried to reflect on the realities on the ground, the Taliban detained them. The government protesters were suppressed and detained,” Sakhi said.
Sakhi said there are reports of Taliban members interfering with civil society organizations and ordering them to remove any parts that granted Afghans the ability to freely express themselves.
He then said that these organizations “had to remove the advocacy component, they had to remove the human rights component — women political participation, human rights, advocacy or freedom of expression.”
The panelists concluded the conversation by discussing potential scenarios that Afghanistan may face in the future. Malek Sitez, professor of political science at Selinus University, said that there are three possible scenarios for the future political process in Afghanistan. The first is the “bad scenario” that he hopes does not become a reality.
In this scenario, the Taliban will embrace “dictatorship as a military religious regime and will continue to fight against rebel groups,” Sitez said. “As a result, the Taliban will make the field of Afghanistan more open for cultivation of global terrorism.”
The second scenario pertains to the spread of war throughout the region.
“Wars will spread and the superpowers such as Russia, China, India and regional states such as Pakistan, India and Central Asia recruit soldiers from amongst their supporters in war in Afghanistan,” Sitez said.
Sitez then discussed the possibility of Afghans being recruited to fight in war by other nations. He said it is very easy for these “superpowers’” to recruit Afghans as soldiers and that these countries will do so if necessary.
The last scenario sheds a more positive light on Afghanistan’s future. Sitez explained that U.S. foreign policy and the actions of the U.S. President are critical in solving some of Afghanistan’s major problems.
“This scenario paves the way for the establishment of the rule of law in Afghanistan. Global pressure causes the Taliban to retreat,” Sitez said.