HomeSpecialIn Keys: Afghanistan from "Enduring Freedom" to "The Fall of Kabul"

In Codes: Afghanistan From "Enduring Freedom" to "The Fall of Kabul"

This Monday, August 16, the world was surprised by the images of large US warplanes at the airport in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, trying to break through hundreds of people who were stationed on the runway looking to make a place in the wings, the fuselage or landing gear.

Another of the postcards left by the American "withdrawal" from this Asian nation are the taking of the catwalks and the overcrowding of civil transport planes that still remained on the runway with no route or destination, since the last commercial flights left on Sunday, the same day that President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and part of his cabinet left that country.

All these events that resembled the sequence of an apocalyptic film of Hollywood production or the "withdrawal" from Vietnam, known as "the flight from Saigon", was reviewed by the media as "the fall of Kabul" and was a reflection of the chaos that ruled in the Afghan capital before the end of the US military occupation and the arrival of the Taliban forces that had taken power again and from the Government Palace declared the end of the war.  

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Operation Enduring Freedom

The despair that led people to cling to the aircraft, regardless of whether they subsequently fell into the void, as happened with three whose health status is unknown, resembled the images that 20 years earlier, specifically September 11, 2001, had shocked to the world that saw how people jumped from the Twin Towers after a couple of planes crashed into them, in what was called the "worst terrorist attack in the history of the United States" and which led to the invasion of Afghanistan ruled by the Taliban whom they accused of "harboring terrorists" from Al Qaeda, alleged perpetrators of the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, for which war was declared.

The "War on Terror" operation began on October 7, 2001 and was called "Enduring Freedom", which, according to the words of then US President George W. Bush, had among its objectives the overthrow of the Taliban regime and the the establishment of a Western-style democracy in Afghanistan.

“We have not asked for this mission, but we are going to complete it. The name of today's military operation is Enduring Freedom. We not only defend our precious freedoms, but also the freedom of everyone who wants to live and raise their children free from fear. "

George W. Bush, Oct 7, 2001

In December of the same year 2001, the Taliban took refuge in the mountains and the United States, having control of the main cities, installed an interim government headed by Hamid Karzai. Three years later, in 2004, the first presidential elections by direct universal suffrage were held in the history of that country where Karzai was ratified.

Bush and Karzai

Later, in 2005, legislative elections were held, giving way to the installation of the Afghan parliament, an event that was celebrated by the US as "a great step towards the development of Afghanistan as a democratic state governed by the rule of law."

"We commend the tremendous progress that the Afghan people have made in recent years, and we pledge America's full support for Afghanistan to meet the challenges to come."

George Bush, September 18, 2005

Later in March 2006, during his visit to Afghanistan, then-President Bush assures that "the days of the Taliban are over" and that "the future of Afghanistan belongs to the people of Afghanistan and the future of Afghanistan belongs to freedom."

From "durable" to temporary

Despite the declaration made by Bush during his visit to this Asian country, the Taliban forces showed increasing strength in the face of the weak Afghan army, which is why their American "protectors" were forced to increase their military presence by more than 48 thousand soldiers in 2008.

In that same year, Barack Obama already elected and shortly before leaving the White House the promoter of this invasion George Bush, visited the city of Kabul again, where at a press conference he pointed out that "I never said that the Taliban had been eliminated."

“Now (the Taliban) can hide in remote regions. They can hide, but we will go after them and continue to pressure them, because it suits the people… the peaceful people of Afghanistan, as well as this country. And so are there still difficult days? Definitely. But are conditions much better in Afghanistan today than they were in 2001? Undoubtedly, undoubtedly, they are better. "

George Bush, Dec 15, 2008

The arrival of Obama under the promise of ending the wars that his predecessor had started under the argument of the "war on terrorism", meant the escalation of the end of the US military presence in Afghan territory where between setbacks and advances in that objective As a result of “withdrawal”, the military presence was increased, reaching more than 100 US soldiers in this country, an action that failed to contain the advance and strengthening of the Taliban.

In May 2011, the capture and death of Osama Bin Laden, who was one of the leaders of Al Qaeda who had served as a justification for invading Afghanistan, was announced, where he was supposedly “protected” by the Taliban government. This served so that a month later Obama announced the end of the North American occupation and the delivery of the security of the Asian country to the Afghans.

Prior to this announcement, the Pentagon had raised reports that indicated the impossibility of a military triumph and began to coin the need for an agreement to end the conflict. Given this, Obama in 2014 decides to declare the end of the operations of US forces in Afghanistan and begins a silent withdrawal, reducing his presence to just under 9 thousand soldiers.

From "terrorists" to negotiators

Then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar

With the arrival of Donald Trump in the White House, a series of contacts with the Taliban forces began in order to guarantee the end of the fighting and the departure of US soldiers and their allies from Afghan territory.

This pact, known as the "Doha Agreement" is achieved after months of talks in which the representatives of the Taliban managed to get the US to remove the representation of the Afghan government from the negotiating table.

Signed on February 29, 2020, this agreement set a 14-month timetable for the withdrawal of US forces and their allies from Afghanistan, as well as a commitment by the Taliban not to allow Afghan territory to be used for plan or carry out actions that threaten the security of the United States.

It also stipulated that the US promised to lift the sanctions it had imposed on Taliban leaders, as well as the release of up to 5.000 prisoners of these Afghan forces in exchange for releasing just over 1.000 belonging to the weak government of that country.

This pact was criticized for not including the commitment to respect human rights and democracy by the Taliban, who during the 20 years of the invasion were denounced by each of the presidents who occupied the White House, as "barbarians ”,“ Genocidal ”and“ terrorists ”.

USA like Pilatos

Joe Biden during his speech / Photo: AFP

With the end of Trump's mandate, with the arrival of Biden, the "withdrawal" of the US army and its allies from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) begins under the argument of having fulfilled its mission by consolidating a government in Afghanistan with a well-trained army of more than 300 Afghans equipped with the best and most modern weapons.

“We provide our Afghan partners with all the tools, let me emphasize this, all the tools, training and equipment of any modern army. We provide advanced weaponry. And we will continue to provide funding and equipment. And we will make sure they have the capacity to maintain their air force. "

Joe Biden, July 9, 2021

This speech that highlighted security in the strength of the Afghan government took a resounding turn a little over a month ago, when without completing the withdrawal, the Taliban forces had already retaken the capital and with it control over the country, to which the response of the US president was to point out the Afghans as guilty.

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"The political leaders of Afghanistan were unable to unite for the good of their people, were unable to negotiate for the future of their country when the moment of truth came" and he finished by noting that "American troops should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war the Afghan forces are unwilling to fight on their own.

He dismissed calling this long war a failure and giving a 180 degree turn to what had been the speech that endorsed this invasion and long occupation where the premise was the protection of the American people and the promise of bringing the light of democracy to all nations, pointed out that the objective of this operation was not to build a democratic state in Afghanistan.

“Our mission in Afghanistan was never nation building. It was never about creating a unified and centralized democracy. "

Joe Biden, Aug 16, 2021

With these words, Biden ended the 20-year history in Afghanistan that began on October 7 with a bombastic speech on freedom, democracy and American power and ended with the deployment of arguments and the evasion of responsibility. of the United States of a war that left more than 100 dead, the vast majority Afghans, to return to the starting point with the only difference being more destroyed and under threat of revenge from the Taliban.

The war in numbers

Cost: 2,6 trillion dollars. (Figures from The Costs of War Project)

Deaths: 47.245 civilians, 66.000 Afghan military and police, 2.448 US soldiers, 1.145 NATO personnel and 444 humanitarian workers.

Opium crops: When the US arrived in Afghanistan, opium crops did not exceed 74 thousand hectares, for today they are located at more than 224 thousand hectares, which represents an increase of just over 300%, although in 2017 it reached over 300 thousand hectares.

Armament: In two decades, the US invested more than 83.000 million dollars in training and equipping the security forces of the Afghan government, which succumbed in a few hours. All this weaponry passed into the hands of the Taliban regime.

Weapons tests: Despite being in the run-up to its withdrawal, on April 13, 2017, the US launched "the mother of all bombs" (GBU-43 / B) that weighs almost 10.000 kilos, which is equivalent to the power of 11 tons of TNT and makes it the most powerful weapon before nuclear jet bombs.