Who is to blame for the disaster in Afghanistan? And who is responsible for the Taliban’s rapid gain in power? Middle East expert Marcel Pott answers these questions in an interview with Merkur.de.
Munich – “Even the US attempt to establish a liberal social system in Iraq in 2003 did not work and ended in disaster,” says Marcel Pott. The Middle East expert is a trained lawyer and later worked as a journalist for ten years for the ARD radio studio Middle East in the Lebanese capital Beirut and the Jordanian capital Amman.
Afghanistan: Lack of cohesion in the ethnic groups
In Afghanistan * this attempt has now also failed – because the foreign troops have not succeeded in uniting “a country that is structured in a premodern manner and has never been a nation, but rather a tribal gathering,” says Pott. The expert is addressing the various ethnic groups that live in Afghanistan: With around 40 percent, the Pashtuns are the largest ethnic group in the country, followed by the Tajiks, who make up around 25 percent. The last third is made up of eight percent Hazara, six percent Uzbeks and other ethnic groups. These different groups “did not necessarily pull together, but were in strong rivalry,” said Pott.
This lack of cohesion has also shown itself in the Afghan soldiers’ unwillingness to fight. To take Kabul, the supporters of the terrorist Taliban did not even have to take up arms. Many soldiers had already fled across the country’s borders, and even Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had taken to safety in the United Arab Emirates.
“The corruption in Afghanistan is unparalleled”
“Many soldiers were demotivated because they were not paid properly and had the feeling that the government had let them down,” explains the expert. Then, to “shed blood to support a government that had succumbed to nepotism and was unable to stand up for the people” was no incentive for local soldiers and police to oppose the advancing Taliban.
The USA’s mistakes – Trump was naive and Biden impatient
The fact that the Taliban have now not only brought the Afghan capital Kabul, but almost the entire country under their control, is to blame, according to Pott, in addition to US President Joe Biden * and Donald Trump – even if he most recently blamed his successor *. Trump negotiated the unconditional withdrawal of American troops with the Taliban without asking for anything in return from the Taliban. There was a set date for this, which the Taliban only had to wait and see.
“It is of course particularly bitter that President Trump had his foreign minister sign such a paper,” says Pott, “that shows foreign policy naivety and ignorance.” In addition, this agreement was made in the absence of the Afghan government, which is its structural position Also weakened the place. And it was not the first time that Trump had revealed his political inexperience on the international stage. “That was a big political mistake,” explains Pott.
But that Biden “kept the time window so small, that’s where I think the incumbent president made the mistake,” Pott suspects. Domestically, the willingness of Americans to go to war has sunk to less than 30 percent, as has the willingness to “support foreign adventures,” he explains. That is why the incumbent president was in such a hurry to withdraw the troops.
“The criticism was not long in coming,” says Pott. Biden has not only been heavily criticized by the opposition for the abrupt withdrawal of US troops, but also by members of his own party. “It is shameful and an embarrassment,” condemned Pott, “and not only for the Americans, but also for Great Britain and also for Germany.”
Afghanistan: What Lessons the West Can Draw
What lessons can the West now draw from this geopolitical situation? “Nowhere in the world does it work to influence these societies culturally and socio-culturally from the outside in such a way that they build something that was not part of their natural development over the past centuries,” explains Pott. “It is completely unthinkable that you can successfully implant a foreign culture by building an army that is only strong on paper and is intended to serve as the basis for a new model of society,” he says. That failed now in Afghanistan and earlier in Iraq and Vietnam.
Expert judges harshly on Afghanistan course: “Arrogance and ignorance”
The western nations were in Afghanistan with a combination of arrogance and ignorance, says Pott. With an occupation of this magnitude, one shouldn’t ignore the cultural values and also the influence of a very different world religion, but rather integrate this into the development aids. In his opinion, around 20 percent of Afghans are those who want to think and live progressively and liberally. “But 80 percent are opposed to those who act according to conventional value systems and don’t want to give them up,” says Pott. (hkj) * Merkur.de is an offer from IPPEN.MEDIA.
List of rubric lists: © Maurizio Gambarini / dpa