What remains a year after the recapture of Kabul?

Exactly a year has passed since the Taliban fully recaptured Afghanistan. In mid-August 2021 images of desperate people trying to board a plane at Kabul airport to flee the country went around the world. Commentators take stock.

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Cyprus Mail (CY) /

All the old lessons forgotten

Columnist Gwynne Dyer writes in Cyprus Mail:

“Western armies got chased out of Afghanistan a year ago because they forgot all the lessons they had learned from a dozen lost counter-insurgency wars in former colonies between 1954 and 1975: France in Algeria and Indochina, Britain in Kenya, Cyprus and Aden, Portugal in Angola and Mozambique, and the United States in Vietnam. ... By the 1970s Western military staff colleges were teaching their future commanders that Western armies always lose guerrilla wars in the 'Third World' (as it was still known at the time). The Western armies lose no matter how big and well-equipped they are because the insurgents are fighting on home ground. They can't quit and go home because they already are home.”

The Irish Times (IE) /

Country caught in financial stranglehold

Graham Davison of the Irish charity Concern Worldwide laments in The Irish Times that liquidity problems are exacerbating hunger and poverty in the country:

“Sanctions have slowed down or halted the transfer of funds through the banking system. Even with humanitarian exemptions that allow aid to be delivered, banks and private sector companies are often reluctant to do business, for fear of falling foul of compliance requirements. ... The freezing of billions in assets belonging to the Da Afghanistan Bank has also had a devastating impact. The financial stranglehold on the country is also affecting the humanitarian community. Non-governmental organisations have struggled to open bank accounts and make financial transfers.”

Daily Sabah (TR) /

Isolation is the wrong approach

Other countries should follow Turkeys constructive example, writes the pro-government newspaper Daily Sabah:

“No country has recognized the Taliban government and the country is totally cut off from the rest of the world. Türkiye is an exception here. While NATO countries and many others have cut diplomatic ties with Afghanistan, Türkiye is the only NATO member that has maintained its relations, which makes it a key country for Afghanistan. It serves as an oxygen tube for the country, a tunnel opening to the world. ... Isolation does not bear any results. On the contrary, it means isolating children, women and innocent people. For this reason, Türkiye has been carrying out positive diplomacy.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

Afghans must not be abandoned

De Volkskrant sees the international community facing a diabolical dilemma:

“How to prevent thousands of Afghans from dying without strengthening the regime? Until the Taliban demonstrate that they respect human rights, including, of course those of women, the regime cannot be recognised by the international community. But this does not mean that the population can be abandoned or forgotten. In any event generous aid must be provided via non-governmental organisations. ... The priority for Western countries must now be to give the United Nations the money already pledged without fail.”

Večernji list (HR) /

Poverty and bans

Living conditions in Afghanistan have deteriorated significantly under the Taliban, says Večernji list:

“The financial, economic and humanitarian crisis Afghanistan is facing is getting worse. The number of Afghans living in poverty has increased - 20 million now live on the brink of starvation. Many people are in debt and families in precarious circumstances are forced to decide whether to sell their children or their organs. Many Sharia laws and bans are back in force, and listening to music, shisha smoking and playing cards are strictly controlled in conservative regions. Protests are being stifled and journalists are threatened and arrested on a regular basis.”

The Spectator (GB) /

A baseless fantasy

Anyone who says the Islamist leaders are more liberal than they used to be is deluded, The Spectator insists:

“Failure to educate girls is the most visible sign of the drastic change - activists have counted thirty separate restrictions on the lives of women. ... The idea that 'Taliban 2.0' would somehow be less restrictive than when they were in power in the late 1990s was always a fantasy without foundation. ... It was a comforting illusion, particularly for U.S. presidents, both Trump and Biden, who abandoned Afghanistan and wanted to believe they had not betrayed its people.”

ABC (ES) /

Diplomatic relations essential

ABC asks whether the Taliban regime should be recognised:

“The only difference with respect to the Afghanistan we knew before the arrival of the Western military is probably the great and heroic courage of thousands of women. ... To help them and the many Afghans living in abject poverty, the international community should at some point launch the debate about whether it would be politically acceptable to recognise the Taliban as the legitimate government. ... Without recognition, there is no possibility of negotiating anything or opening embassies. And without diplomatic relations there is no way to help the Afghans.”

De Standaard (BE) /

Unimagined global consequences

The US's withdrawal from Afghanistan a year ago set a chain of events in motion, publicist Gie Goris observes in De Standaard:

“There is a line - albeit a crooked one - between Kabul and Kyiv, between the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan and the media-hyped visit to Taiwan, between gas, wheat and lacking climate policies. ... The optical illusion of the fleeing American army may have contributed to the Kremlin's overconfidence. ... Russia's invasion of Ukraine forced a division of the world in which the transatlantic axis is sharply demarcated against the Russian-Chinese axis. The rest of the world refuses to take sides - marking a first victory for the Euro-Asian authoritarian line.”