Semaneh T. Jemere
An unknown person once advised humanity to never trust a person who let you down twice. Once is a warning, and twice is a lesson. Anything more is simply taking advantage at best and an insult to consciousness. From this vintage point of view the wild west can be characterized as repeated offenders of truth. The political situations unfolding in Afghanistan and Ethiopia are perfect examples of bridge of trust. Here is why.
Personally, I came to know Afghanistan from early school geography lesson. And my acquaintance with Afghans began during my UN international assignment in Afghanistan in 1991. My work allowed me to travel across the breadth and width of its breath-taking landscape. I interacted with Afghans, intellectuals, Mujahedeen and Taliban worriers extensively. From the day I stepped on Afghan soil, I felt as if I was following the genesis of my own country, Ethiopia.
Like Ethiopia, Afghanistan is culturally rich, religiously divine, ethnically divers and rich with natural resources. Beyond belief it has the world’s quality minerals such as copper, Aluminum, Gold, Silver, Iron, and Mercury deposits. The country’s strategic location and its riches have always attracted the attention of super powers.
Its mesmerizing landscape is bestowed with diverse agro-climatic conditions similar to that of Ethiopia. The land produces quality fruits unmatched by any other on the planet. Its pomegranate, water and honey melons, and plumes are believed to be the sweetest fruits unmatched by any other.
As Homo sapiens, Afghans are cultured, disciplined, courteous, honest, and devoutly religious. They are culturally sensitive like touch-me-not (Mimosa pudica) but peace-loving people who detest fighting. However, if war is imposed on them, they are warriors to the core. They can hit the bull’s eye with precision.
They are socially cohesive but very private in their family affairs. Their life is individualistic guarded by family values. They rise in unison when their nation is attacked by external enemies like what we are witnessing in Ethiopia today. A colleague once told me that Afghans are like a nursing Tiger who protect their country without reservation.
In the past, Afghans fought three wars against British-led Indian invaders https://www.rferl.org/a/afghanistan-british-war-1919/30109565.html and defeated them squarely. In the 20th and 21st century they defeated the ex-Soviet Union and the boisterous US army respectively. The mystery of keeping their country independent lies in their gallantry and love to their mother land. So are Ethiopians. Business wise they are accomplished entrepreneurs who take immense risks to lend money across continents often without documentation.
During the cold war leftist ideology that swept across nations engulfed holy Afghanistan. Super power rivalry continued their scrambled for the control and dominance of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Communist revolutions from Ernesto “Che” Guevara to Castro of Cuba, Mao Zedong of China to Colonel Mengistu of Ethiopia, Enver Hoxha of Albania to Najibullah Ahmadzai’s of Afghanistan became ubiquitous movements to change the world’s political order of doing business.
Emboldened by this global movement, the Soviets became aggressive and confrontational with the wild West. Under the pretext of upholding the Soviet-Afghan Friendship Treaty of 1978, the ex-Soviet Union invaded the deeply traditional and religious Afghanistan on December 24, 1979. Afghans who detest atheism started a resurgence to counter communist revolution in their country.
The West lead by US went in full force to supporting the anti-Soviet insurgency. They trained a wide range of Mujahedeen groups all coalesced under the auspices of radical Islam. US openly recruited Islamic holy warriors from the Middle East and Africa. Overnight the West became an indispensable allay of Radical Islam promising Afghan Jihadists to free their country and return Allah to Kabul. Enthusiastic Afghans voluntarily joined the dirty war called ‘Jihad’ in droves. The US supplied them with deadly weapons and ammunitions without a penny. Inevitably Soviet troops withdrew unconditionally in 1988.
US mentorship trained radical Islamic fighters including Osama Bin Laden in the Tora Bora cave complex in Eastern Afghanistan. Mujahedeen’s unholy alliance with the West was not only meant to counter communism but also covertly fight Western powers whom they considered as Infidels. Eventually this group of Jihadists formed Al-Qaeda, a militant Sunni Islamist multi-national organization. It is this group that went on rampage in New York on September 11, 2001. One-time best friends became best enemies.
Understandably, the withdrawal of Soviet army from Afghanistan brought jubilation in the West. For the US it was mission accomplished. Then the west ceased its support to anti-Soviet insurgents. Afghans abandoned without a central government neither got peace or security that they hoped for so long.
Without surprise civil war started among the Mujahedeen. Anarchy became the order of the day. Afghanistan became the biggest casualty of the senseless civil war. Sadly, the West that used Afghans to defeat their arch enemy the ‘Soviet Union’ abandon them for the 2nd time.
To counter intra-Mujahedeen fighting the US and Pakistan covertly recruited Taliban fighters from the ‘Madrassas’ of Quetta, Pakistan in 1995. Within months, the Taliban swept into South-Western Afghanistan dislodging Mujahedeen forces to control Kabul by 1996.
In Kabul Taliban snatched president Najibullah from the UN compound and hang him in public. Sadly, the international community and the US had no audacity to stop the execution of a refugee who was under UN’s custody and protection. For the West the death of Mujahedeen and the execution of Najibullah was another mission accomplished.
Quickly after the execution, the US demanded Taliban to handover the US trained Mujahid and arch enemy Osama bin Laden. The Taliban refused arrogantly. Then US and NATO coalition forcefully entered Afghanistan. the coalition toppled Taliban from Kabul to install a puppet regime led by my friend Hamid Karzai. Simultaneously, the Taliban retreated to the mountain enclaves of South-Western Afghanistan.
Truth be told the US went into Afghanistan to kill Ben Laden and not in the interest of bringing peace, and stability to the Afghan people. And the assassination of Ben Laden by US rangers was a 2nd was an accomplishment celebrated by the White House next to the defeat of the Soviet army in the 90’s. Twenty years after US invasion regrouped Taliban swept over Afghanistan and took over Kabul in the presence of US troops for 2nd time on August 14, 2021. The Biden Administration that announced a complete withdrawal of its army from Afghanistan left innocent and unsuspecting Afghans in the hands of fanatic Taliban. US America abandoned Afghans for the 3rd time to never return again. This betrayal by a super power can be considered as the worst bridge of trust of the 21st century. Though my heart bleeds for poor Afghans, certainly resilient Afghanistan will prevail.
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