Zanst Othman

The United States has been in Afghanistan for 20 years. It spent nearly 2 trillion USD, lost thousands of American soldiers, and has seen the death of tens of thousands of Afghan soldiers and civilians alike.

After these tragedies, the decision to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan does not come as a surprise. The former Trump Administration has taken numerous efforts to remove the United States from the Afghan stalemate and extended its hand to negotiate a peace agreement with the Taliban, which later failed. At the moment, there is no apparent inconsistency in American outlook towards the region; just the execution of the retreat is at complete fault. United States withdrawal shocked the world as it seemed more like US troops fleeing Afghanistan than a strategic choice to return. Anyone who witnessed the Kabul airport scene in Afghanistan will resonate with the sentiment. The Republican Party of America also strongly criticized Biden’s strategy to withdraw the soldiers from Afghanistan; in this way, as a severe failure.

This article primarily reflects on the views of the Middle East and the Islamic world concerning the changes in Afghanistan. What do they see or think? it looks at the media and social networks to paint a broader picture.

Perspectives from the Middle-East

Another tick for Anti- Americanism

The section that doesn’t like America or its foreign policy thinks that the 20 years of American narrative of rescuing Afghanistan from terrorism or the other Middle East countries from the dictatorial governments was a big lie. Its only purpose is to bring more instability to the region. They think that Washington has never really dealt with the real problems, and despite having the world’s most significant force, it is not really capable of solving the political issues in the region.

The confused and rushed withdrawal of American forces in Afghanistan has further added to their beliefs. The American presence in the Middle East has hardly reached a positive conclusion, so they see the change in Afghanistan as progress. It has more to do with America’s exemplary failure than their liking or support for the Taliban. It is another fresh evidence of American foreign policy disaster for them.

A Lesson for Middle-East Leadership

Another section that sees the changes in Afghanistan as optimistic believes these changes in Afghanistan would serve as a warning message for some of the oppressive governments of the Middle East countries and their leaders who might have to one day flee as the president of Afghanistan. According to them, corrupted and oppressive leaders would meet the same fate. The situation in Kabul is a warning call to wake up and work to manage their country efficiently. They should not make assumptions and think that their reigns will continue to mishandle the state institutions with America’s support. If they are not aware already, they are waiting for an Afghanistan to happen to their states.

Return of Extremism 

For certain sections, United States’ decision has brought up the fear of reemergence of stronger Taliban and other terrorist groups that have nothing to do with the Taliban. For them, United States has been the prominent scaremonger among these groups. These extremist ideas and groups are continuously growing more robust, and many of them already have safe-heavens in many Middle Eastern countries. With the Taliban’s political return, they have become more active, especially in Syria and Yemen. So, the trajectory of Afghanistan will have a consequential effect on the region.

It is too early to assert that today’s Taliban is not 2001’s Taliban or to know how the Taliban will lead Afghanistan. But, if the Taliban wants to create a state, it has to obey some international laws and earn diplomatic allies to make its place. Otherwise, it will be ruling a failed and unstable state

Taliban’s Acceptance in the Region

The Taliban’s acceptance within the region will somehow relate to the Taliban’s future policies, i.e., whether it will follow the Islamic governments, choose sides in the regional conflicts, or obey a particular country, such as Iran or Turkey. All of this will be instrumental in assuring the Taliban’s acceptance within the area. The Middle East has somehow influenced this change in Afghanistan, but not as much as the United States.

For some middle eastern countries changes in Afghanistan have brought some lessons, but to what extent it will be of any benefit is still undetermined as this will not just affect the Islamic world but all of US allies. Taiwan is already being used as an example in Arabic media, even though both situations are very different. But the comparison is often drawn as both are United States’ allies. The question that what if the United States one day decides not to support its allies in the region is worth stipulating!

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