I have a lot of thoughts on Afghanistan, some of them political in nature and some simply reflective of my visit to Afghanistan in 2012.
Vivid Memories Of My Trip To Afghanistan
So much is changing so quickly. For that reason, I am not going to offer my thoughts as a political scientist and former Air Force Reservist on the situation. I’ll be listening to President Biden’s speech today and will offer my commentary in a later post.
As Afghanistan falls into Taliban control, I cannot help but to think of my entourage that protected me during my December 2012 visit. I’m usually pretty adventurous, but when I traveled to Kabul I hired a security detail out of an abundance of caution. With me at all time, except when I was in my sleeping compound, was a guide, driver, and armed guard (pictured above in the Panjshir Valley).
When writing about my trip, I penned a piece called The Afghanistan Dilemma, in which I reflected upon the sober reality of life in Afghanistan. I wrote:
Militants stand waiting in the wings to swoop back in and retake control—my own guide dourly told me that he would be executed in southern Afghanistan, where the Taliban has regained control, for shaving his beard.
This was in 2013. I wonder if my guide is safe (he doesn’t respond to my emails)? I wonder what life will be like for him and his family now? Will he face retribution for working with western governments?
Taliban 2.0 promises to be kinder and gentler than the previous Taliban regime, but I have my doubts. Over the weekend, an alleged thief in Herrat was tarred and led through the city in a noose. What will happen to women? Children? Christians? Buddhists? Homosexuals? Artwork?
Taliban accused these men of theft, their faces were colored with black color – to embarrass them and were paraded in Herat city after the Friday prayers. pic.twitter.com/crLpdK3kCV
— BILAL SARWARY (@bsarwary) August 13, 2021
The Afghanistan dilemma then is the Afghanistan dilemma now. My analysis nearly a decade ago is still relevant today:
In a time of austerity and weariness to war, keeping thousands of troops in a foreign land over 7,000 miles away from U.S shores is a tough sell. But U.S. and coalition forces have proved adept at doing what thus far has eluded the Afghans: keeping the Taliban, and with it their brutal oppression, from control. All I can say is that the people of Afghanistan worry not merely about providing for their children or how they will weather uncertain economic times, but how they will survive. They are begging us to stay and help a little longer. But should we?
That is the Afghanistan dilemma.
A little longer turned into eight more years. We are nearing the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks which led to the conflict in the first place. How long before Afghans must take up arms and defend their own freedom, if they want it? (This is, of course, a different question than how the withdrawal has been managed)
The Afghanistan dilemma continues…
> Read more of my Saudi Arabia + Afghanistan Trip Report–
Introduction: A Journey to Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan
How to Obtain a Saudi Arabian Transit Visa
New York JFK to Jeddah in Saudia Economy Class
Review: Park Hyatt Jeddah
Pictures from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Jeddah to Dubai in Saudia Economy Class
Dubai to Kabul on Ariana Afghan Airlines
Arrival in Afghanistan
The Panjshir Valley of Afghanistan
My Hotel, er Compound, in Kabul, Afghanistan
Kabul – TV Tower Hill and Darul Aman Palace
Kabul – National Museum of Afghanistan
Kabul – Gardens of Babur and Kart-e Sakhi Mosque
Kabul – The Green Zone and British Cemetery
Kabul International Airport and Departing Afghanistan
The Afghanistan Dilemma
Kabul to Dubai on flydubai
Dubai to New York via Jeddah in Saudia Economy Class