Top American military brass has admitted defeat in Afghanistan. According to General Milley, the Biden administration bears political responsibility, while General McKenzie blames Trump for signing agreements with the Taliban in Doha. But it was Obama who first announced U.S. plans for withdrawal.
The Taliban might allow women to study, but their husbands of arranged marriages, will forbid it. The Taliban could also not impose the burqa by law, but families will require it to be worn. The Taliban might refrain from reintroducing the stoning of adulterous women, but it will be their families to kill them. These are the ancient, tribal traditions that Islam has reinforced in Afghan society.
Today the Americans are taking leave of Afghanistan, tomorrow the French from the Sahel: the international missions to fight jihadism are withdrawing, given the impossibility of replacing incompetent local governments. And jihadist groups throughout Africa, galvanised by the victory of the Taliban, launch a series of violent attacks against civilians and the military.
NATO had been present in Afghanistan for 20 years. It came not to "export democracy," but rather to fight against terrorism following the attacks of 9/11 in America. What will happen now that the two-decade mission is over? The Doha Agreement that preceded the U.S. withdrawal envisaged peace in exchange for the Taliban's renunciation of anti-American terrorism. And yet the Taliban have already broken their promises. Instead of dealing with the government in Kabul, they have overthrown it. The risk of the return of Afghanistan-based terrorism is real. In Afghanistan there are men freed from maximum security prisons with weapons left behind by the Americans. In the wake of all this is the jihadist "myth" of a country that defeated America.
We all have felt moved by the harrowing scenes at Kabul international airport where thousands of people have tried in vain to leave their country now in the hands of the Taliban. In the world of politics, once again, welcoming refugees and calling for impossible airlifts for millions of people is being urged.
What sort of future awaits Afghanistan after the hasty retreat of Western forces and landslide victory of Taliban militias? The Kabul airport will remain open until Western civilians and a minority of Afghans have been evacuated. The Taliban promise tolerance and non-interference in the territories of their neighbours (China and Russia), but this may be just propaganda. Through its secret services, Pakistan has had the biggest victory by aiding and organising the Taliban offensive and by infiltrating government troops. It will now aim to exert its control over the forthcoming Afghan Islamic government.