You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2021 08 28Article 1343446

Opinions of Saturday, 28 August 2021

Columnist: Cameron Duodu

Ei, Afghanistan!

One country's name bears the marks of such a “taboo”. It is Afghanistan. One country's name bears the marks of such a “taboo”. It is Afghanistan.

There are certain “curse words” which people only mention to others when they want to tease or upset them.

For instance, one African leader was so disenchanted with the behaviour of the leader of a neighbouring country that when his girl-friend wanted to “blackmail” him into doing what she wanted him to do for her, she would threaten to mention the enemy's name! Of course, it was a joke between leader and lover, but many a serious idea is convened in the form of a joke.

One country's name bears the marks of such a “taboo”. It is Afghanistan.

If you want to get on with a leader from India, Pakistan, Great Britain, the United States of America, the erstwhile Soviet Union, or Iran, you would be wise not to bandy the name of Afghanistan about. For all of these countries – and a few more – have had reasons to regret the existence of Afghanistan. But wishing Afghanistan “away”, they've learnt, is as easy as physically moving the highest mountains of Asia into Europe or North America.

On Thursday, 25 August 2021, the current leader of the United States, President Joe Biden, became the latest “powerful” ruler in the world to add Afghanistan to his list of “unmentionable” words. While Biden was resting comfortably in the White House, in Washington D. C., awaiting word from Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, that the order Biden had given earlier that American troops should complete the pull-out of Afghanistan by 31 August 2021 (after 20 years during which the US had influenced almost every important decision affecting the affairs of Afghanistan) Biden got very bad news.

Although the US had obtained warning that a terrorist attack would be mounted at Kabul airport to obstruct the withdrawal of American troops and Afghan nationals who had worked for the Americans and their allies, a terrorist attack HAD successfully taken place. Thirteen American soldiers had been killed by suicide bombers, as well as about 80 civilians. Another 150 people had been injured.

It later emerged that the attack had been carried out by two suicide bombers. One had detonated his bomb outside Kabul airport, while the other had blown himself up at a nearby hotel, where hundred of Afghans trying to leave the country, were being processed by, among others, British officials. .

What was Biden to do? He couldn't bring back the scores of thousands of US troops who had already flown home. Nor could he abandon the hundreds of Afghans who were still at the airport, being helped by the remaining US troops to board planes for the United States and elsewhere. (Biden's withdrawal order had set 31 August as the deadline by which the withdrawal should be completed.)

It was a humiliating dilemma that faced Biden. As horrific pictures of the dead and injured at Kabul airport dominated the filled the airwaves of the world's television networks, Biden learnt that in Afghanistan, foreign interventionists never win.

He was, however, at his defiant best when he faced his nation on television to comment on the disaster. “We shall not forgive!” he told the unknown perpetrators ODF the attack. “We shall not forget!”, he added. The US would go and get them and make them “pay” for the atrocity, he promised.

The effect of the attack was to reinforce the notion, first peddled by Chairman Mao Tse Dong of China, that

the US and its imperialist allies, who wanted to achieve world domination, were all “paper tigers”. Yes, the us had been able to detect where Osama Bin Laden (who carried out the attack on the “twin towers” in New York on “Nine-Eleven” (9 September) 2001, and “taken him out”. But it had taken the US no less than ten good years to accomplish that feat – remarkable as it was.

National Public Radio (NPR) in the US, commenting on the situation following the bomb attacks, said that if the intention of the attacks were “to throw into disarray, an already chaotic U.S. evacuation from Afghanistan,” the effects were “only beginning to take shape.” Flights had been taking off from the airport since the explosions occurred, and President Biden had said that the American withdrawal would continue. "America will not be intimidated," Biden had added.

It was “a combative stance” from a U.S. President who was already facing criticism for the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. He would “now face the fallout from the attacks”, the radio station said.

Thursday's deadly attack was claimed by ISIS-K, the Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan, according to The Associated Press and Reuters. The group posted the claim of responsibility on its Telegram channel, the news agencies reported.