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Afghan collapse/1: a chat with Hujjatullah Zia (journalist)

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After analyzing the big picture of Afghan crisis, we decided to give way to the voice of the Afghan people. So we contacted Hujjatullah Zia, journalist.

How did you live the US withdrawal?

“The US withdrawal created a sense of fear and disappointment in public air in Afghanistan. As a journalist, I was concerned about losing my job since the Taliban would impose restrictions on media. Afghans believed that it was not the right time for withdrawal”.

Have Biden’s statements convinced you? Could the withdraw have been managed differently?

“Biden’s remarks and persistence on withdrawal was not convincing at all. He gambled two decades of treasure and blood of US and NATO troops. Afghans believed that Biden would not follow the footstep of his predecessor Donald Trump and would review his policy about the withdrawal as US and UN believed that the Taliban did not honor their deal with the US and maintained tie with al-Qaeda. Notwithstanding this fact, Biden sought withdrawal. Actually, the withdrawal process could be condition-based and the Biden administration should not have sought a hasty withdrawal since the Taliban were not committed to the Doha peace agreement. Meanwhile, the Taliban did not reduce violence or declare ceasefire in spite of national and international demands. Hence, leaving Afghanistan in the lurch was a terrible mistake”.

What went wrong in the state-building process?

“The Bush administration invaded Afghanistan with the narrative of “war on terror”. Later, the narrative of state-building was added to it. Then Trump and Biden said that they would not pursue state-building. Hence, a coherent narrative was not formed. Meanwhile, the US was likely seeking to build Afghanistan in the image of the United States, which was not possible.

Second, the US completely marginalized the Taliban from 2001 Bonn Conference.

Foreign forces did not or could not fight corruption and their focus on war on terror was lost as it invaded Iraq”.

What consequences do you expect from the new occupants? Can they count on a large consent of the population?

“The Taliban seem not to have any long-term plan or strategy for managing the country. The Taliban were supposed to integrate into the system not occupy the country through military deal. Since the Taliban took over Kabul, government offices and ministries are locked, many shops and markets are closed, schools and universities are closed, and people have lost their hope. It is a chaotic situation in the country. The Taliban so far could not appoint a leader or decide about the type of government. In the meantime, there seems disagreement between Haqqani network and the Taliban, both are seeking the bulk part in the government. The Taliban are not able to get the public consent or fulfill their expectations”.

What repercussions do you see in regional balances?

I cannot predict anything about the repercussions on regional states, but I am not optimistic. The instant effect is already palpable that regional states have to deal with migration influx and thousands of people are flocking out of the country”.

What Western countries, like Italy, can still do to save Afghan people?

“Western countries, including Italy, could push the Taliban for the formation of an all-out and inclusive government and press the Taliban to preserve the gains made within the last couple of decades. The Taliban need to be recognized by the world powers. Hence, western countries could use their leverage and make preconditions for the Taliban such as respect to the rights and liberties of women and ethnic minority groups and pave the ground for people’s participation in social and political decision-making rather than monopolizing the power”. 

The other interviews on Afghanistan

“Quella volta che ho conosciuto Bin Laden”. Parla Salvatore Lombardo (Swiss Umef University) – Il Tazebao

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