The Next 9-11: Contextualising the Looming US Redeployment from Afghanistan
Abubakar Siddique - Editor of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Gandhara website, Journalist focusing on Afghanistan and Pakistan
20 years after the September 11th attacks, US and allied troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan. The departure has left the future of the country in question, as heavy fighting continues and Taliban rapidly gains ground throughout Afghanistan. To help make sense of this critical time in the history of the conflict, the Euro-Gulf Information Centre hosted a seminar (with a physical and virtual audience) with Abubakar Siddique, a journalist with two decades of experience covering and analysing Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Mr. Siddique gave a comprehensive presentation detailing the past, present and future of the conflict, and the players who could fill the space opened by the American departure. He began by detailing the issues with the way the war was conducted, both in the context of the Western mindset and in the approach of the Afghan elites.
Furthermore, he discussed the countries with a stake in the outcome of this momentous transition. Pakistan, Iran, China, Russia, the Gulf States and the EU will all be affected by the unfolding situation. Whether as a safe haven for Islamist fighters, a source of refugees or a point of pressure between regional rivals, Afghanistan looms large in many strategic calculations.
Looking ahead, the worst case scenario is the advance of the Taliban and the creation of militias to respond to it. This threatens to devolve into a further fratricidal war which would be difficult to stop once it gains momentum. As Mr. Siddique said, “[i]f the international community fails to bring peace to Afghanistan through reconciliation among Afghans, a regional compact or a combination of the two, we might see Afghanistan return to the way it was in the 1990s, a collapsed state that threatened international security. I hope history won’t repeat itself.”