The West is getting Afghanistan wrong – again,

Ahmad M Siddiqi, novelist and academic

[…] Two days before the fall of Kabul, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace declared that Afghanistan was “heading towards civil war”, suggesting the history of Afghanistan and the fragmented nature of the Taliban movement meant al-Qaeda would “probably come back”. Since then, his views have been echoed by former US ambassador Ryan Crocker, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, and numerous other commentators and politicians.

Such statements are based on an outdated understanding of the situation in Afghanistan and the greater Middle East. After 2001, al-Qaeda found more fertile ground outside Afghanistan, chiefly in places where governance was shattered and local resentments created by US invasions and bombing campaigns (Iraq, Yemen, Libya).

It has been the presence, rather than the absence, of US violence that has created support for the organisation. Meanwhile, more extreme outfits like ISIL (ISIS) have superseded al-Qaeda both in importance and in their ability and willingness to strike on US territory.

By contrast, the Taliban has shown no inclination to take its fighting outside Afghan borders, despite many opportunities to do so, and was tacitly collaborating with US forces against ISIL in Afghanistan. In the present day, no government can guarantee that none of its nationals will ever carry out an attack in another country – could Australia?

But there is every reason to take seriously the Taliban’s evident interest in establishing a peaceful order in Afghanistan. The tragic ISIL attack on Kabul airport only underscores the urgency of doing so. Läs artikel