Afghanistan as a minefield: Lost US Trust and New Intercontinental Rift

22:39, 03 сентября 2021

МОСКВА, 03 сентября 2021, Институт РУССТРАТ.

The events that began with the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, and contributed to the return of the Taliban to power, caused new waves of security threats that stretched from Central Asia to Europe. The return of the radical Taliban to power after 20 years, with a higher morale and even greater recognition than before, caused a new revival and mobilisation among various radical groups.

This also led to a clear loss of confidence in the Americans, who had long owned the region, and the Western part of the Atlantic was sharply criticised. Biden’s decision was described as “stupidity” and it was stated that the Afghan people were abandoned to their fate.

It is obvious that the Taliban are restrained or behave differently for the sake of international legitimacy and recognition. However, in a few days Afghanistan has returned to the same situation as it was in 20 years ago. For example, with the departure of the United States, not only has the number of helicopters decreased, but also about 16,000 contract civilians who served Afghan helicopters were forced to leave the country.

There has been a rift in US foreign policy. Expectations from Biden were overestimated. While it was believed that he would maintain the status quo in Afghanistan, being a reasonable president, he chose to follow in Trump’s footsteps. He did not even consult with his allies on the issue of withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.

This quick and destructive decision led to a loss of confidence in the United States for two reasons. Firstly, local residents who collaborated with the United States on the ground were left to their fate. Secondly, partner states will now think twice when they want to organise any joint operation with the United States.

For example, according to the US Department of Defence, 13 American soldiers were killed and 18 others were injured in the explosions at Kabul airport. According to the Ministry of Health of Afghanistan, more than 110 Afghans were killed and more than 150 were injured. The UN Security Council called on all countries to cooperate in the investigation of the explosions at the Kabul airport and demanded that the terrorists be brought to justice.

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, called the seizure of power in Afghanistan by the Taliban and the subsequent events a tragedy. She noted that providing all the necessary assistance not only to those who were forced to leave Afghanistan, but also to those who remained there, is a moral responsibility.

Von der Leyen stressed that the EU funds in the amount of €1 billion allocated for developmental assistance for the next seven years will depend on very strict conditions, and that even €1 cannot be allocated to a regime that will deprive women and girls of education and the right to a career and deprive them of their freedoms.

Panic about Afghan migrants

The possibility of mass immigration from Afghanistan has caused panic and division in the European Union (EU). Another reason for anger towards Washington is that the EU countries are again faced with another wave of immigration. Germany and France have started working to find a solution in neighbouring and transit countries.

The EU, not wanting a repeat of the scenario similar to the crisis with Syrian refugees, which was settled by an agreement with Ankara in March 2016 in exchange for €6 billion, began to look for a “local solution” to the potential migration crisis emanating from Afghanistan. It is expected that in the coming days, Germany and France will launch a joint initiative in this area.

In his address to the public in the light of the recent events in Afghanistan, French President Emmanuel Macron said that they support the creation of “response measures within the EU based for the fight against illegal migration and common criteria of protection and solidarity” against a possible migration crisis.

Stating that they will create a joint initiative on this issue with other European states, primarily with Germany, Macron noted that within the framework of the initiative, the idea of establishing cooperation between the EU and Pakistan, Turkey and Iran, used by Afghan refugees as transit countries or for accommodation, was put on the agenda.

It is noted that the proposed cooperation will be carried out in the form of financial and technical assistance to these countries in exchange for protection from immigrants from Afghanistan.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also said that “it is necessary to find local solutions” against the possible mass flow of refugees from Afghanistan. Stating that it is necessary to learn lessons from the migration crisis of 2015, Merkel called for solving the problem of Afghan refugees in neighbouring countries of Afghanistan.

While Greece, which occupies a leading position in the crisis with Syrian refugees in the EU, does not support Afghan immigration, a shocking proposal has been received from the Austrian government, which is known for its radical rhetoric and policy in Europe towards immigrants.

Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer has proposed that the EU create “camps” in countries neighbouring Afghanistan for Afghan asylum seekers and illegal Afghan refugees whose applications for asylum in the EU were rejected. Nehammer, noting that his country will continue to deport Afghans whose asylum applications have been rejected, said: “To date, there is not a single reason for any Afghan to enter Austria.”

Afghans claim second place in terms of asylum applications

In 2020, 471,300 asylum applications were submitted to the EU countries: Syrians were in first place – 15.2%, and Afghans were in second place – 10.6%. The EU, which spent €10 billion on migration and the protection of its external borders in the period 2014-2020, allocated €22,700,000,000 for this area in its budget for 2021-2027.

Turkey, on the other hand, treats the wave of migration from Afghanistan differently. While the AKP government remains silent (although there are those who consider this silence a bargaining chip at the meeting between Erdogan and Biden), the opposition is demonstrating a tough reaction.

The chairman of the “Good Party”, Meral Akşener, spoke sharply on the issue: “The UK’s plans to create offshore asylum centres for Afghan refugees in countries such as Pakistan and Turkey” are illegal, and that they will not allow such camps to be opened.

The chairman of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kilicdaroglu, also spoke sharply to London, saying that British Defence Minister Ben Wallace announced plans to create “refugee centres” in Turkey for Afghans serving them.

Kilicdaroglu said on his social network account that the British Defence Minister announced plans to create refugee centres in Turkey and addressed President Tayyip Erdogan with the words: “The countries about which you said that ‘I did not make a deal’ can now say such things without even asking the opinion of the Turkish Republic? Or maybe they are so bold because you made a deal?”.

All this shows that there is no unequivocal acceptance of the idea of refugees from Afghanistan either in Europe or in Turkey. Quite influential political forces are aware of the danger of a flow of refugees, in whose ranks Muslim radicals can be completely embedded.

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