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The War in Afghanistan

The War in Afghanistan

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The War in Afghanistan

Abstract

The US and its allies invaded Afghanistan on October 7, 2001. The US invasion of Afghanistan was specifically meant to capture Osama Bin Laden responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America. This military intervention came in the wake of serious crimes against the American people. The terrorist attacks triggered massive reactions from American citizens. It was an attempt to protect the nation from terrorist attacks. Some skeptics argue that the US invasion was also a classic example of the ‘peak oil theory’. The US used its superpower status to sanction an invasion that had significant impacts on world peace. President Obama has recently hinted at ordering a withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

The implications of a recall of the entire US army in Afghanistan are varied. Many questions remain unanswered as to the actual intentions of the US led invasion. No doubt, it was meant to safeguard the country’s citizens from further terrorist attacks. Questions abound on the oil prospects of the US in this operation, and many other carried out in oil rich Arabic countries. Other indications hint at possible protection of interests by the US government in the invasion of Afghanistan and the subsequent occupation of Afghanistan territory by NATO. This paper analyzes the underlying assumptions in the US invasion of Afghanistan including the Peak oil and peace studies theories.

Introduction

Two little boys aged between six and twelve are out collecting firewood in the wilderness of Afghanistan. After some time, the two boys stack the already collected firewood on their donkeys but before they could leave, an explosion occurs, and everything goes blank (Nordland 2013). For these two boys, that becomes the end of the road. Their lives are cut short by an explosion targeting terrorism suspects in their country. This is just but an example of the effects of the sustained conflict that has existed in Afghanistan for a long period. Afghanistan has suffered massively in the hands of the Taliban and other terrorist organizations occupying its territories. NATO troops invaded Afghanistan in late 2001 in a bid to capture Osama Bin Laden responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

Majority of the soldiers who formed part of NATO were American troops. The decision to invade Afghanistan by US troops has faced a lot of criticism from skeptics and historians alike. The US occupation is said to be a breach of the country’s sovereignty. Recently, President Obama embarked on a mission to reduce the number of troops in Afghanistan. This is in line with his larger bid to recall all US troops from Afghanistan. The removal of US troops from Afghanistan will be a significant step in ensuring peace in the country. It will free the Afghan government from the burden of relying on foreign countries to maintain peace in their country.

Perhaps it may lead to more effectiveness by afghan security forces since they will be more vigilant in the absence of NATO troops. While a recall of troops may be beneficial to the security situation, skeptics think that a complete withdrawal of US forces will further worsen the security situation in Afghanistan. This latter possibility cannot be ignored since it spells massively the odds involved in this crucial mission. The US occupation of Afghanistan is a long overdue process it will empower Afghans to deal with their own security issues without foreign assistance. There are serious implications in the withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan. There is security, economic and international interests that cannot be ignored.

History

The Afghanistan conflict has a long history. Territorial occupation began long before the present US led invasion. In 1979, the soviet invaded the Afghanistan territory and occupied it. They were later overpowered by the Islamic Mujahideen and other Arab fighters. The Soviet invasion prompted the US to intervene and support the Mujahideen in warding off Soviet opposition. This enabled the Mujahideen to overpower the Soviet military leading to their withdrawal from Afghan territory. The Taliban terrorist group was later born out of the Mujahideen. This chronology points to the contribution of the United States government to the current situation in Afghanistan.

The Soviet Invasion

In 1973, the monarchy in Afghanistan was overthrown by forces allied to Daud Khan. Khan was a soviet sympathizer whose ascent into power increased Afghan ties with the Soviet Union. After Khan’s victory, the Afghan kingdom faced many coups that advanced different ideologies on how Afghanistan should be ruled. The coups and countercoups in Afghanistan during that time espoused a nationalistic approach. The conflict was based on the system of rule that Afghan rulers should adopt. While some rulers preferred communism, the prospect of a communist state did not augur well with the culture and Islamic religion in Afghanistan. Soviet however came later on when a leader inclined to Soviet values was overthrown in 1979.

The Soviet Union carried out a military invasion later that year after several months of military preparation and anticipation. It was evident that, with their military strength, the Soviet Union was a force to reckon with. They wanted to impose communist ideals on the people of Afghanistan, and they were determined to achieve their goals at all costs after all, they were a superpower. This characteristic realism is what influenced the system conflict, which would later generate into war. Coincidentally, this invasion happened during the time of the cold war between the United States and the Soviet Union.

The American Response

Due to the sour relationship between the Soviet Union and the United States, it was highly unlikely that the United States would ignore this provocation. The United States would certainly not allow the Soviet Union to succeed in establishing a communist system in Afghanistan. The US responded by funding groups of Islamic religious fighters known as the Mujahideen. The Mujahideen were composed of Arabic fighters meant to resist Soviet Invasion. The resistance offered by the Mujahideen was significantly bolstered by the entry of the United States and other countries such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. The Mujahideen found several parties through which they received funding from the different allies of Afghanistan in the resistance.

The support they received enabled them to grow in strength and resources during the resistance. In addition to the influence of religion in their cause, they were vicious fighters who would stop at nothing to achieve their objectives. They therefore formed a formidable opposition against the Soviet invasion. Their fighting attracted other Muslims from the Arab world who viewed the Soviet occupation as an attack against Islam. They therefore joined the cause and proclaimed a Jihad (religious war) on their opponents. Among those who showed interest in this resistance included a young wealthy Arab known as Osama Bin Laden. Apart from Laden, several other influential Arab leaders also participated in funding and training of warriors in the war notably Ayman Al Zawahiri who was then the head of the Jihad organization in Egypt. Laden and Zawahiri played a highly significant role in the Afghan resistance. From their base in Pakistan, they mobilized Arab fighters and trained them to fight alongside the Mujahideen. They were therefore able to assemble a Jihadist movement that would later on defeat the Soviet Union in 1989.

Soviet Withdrawal

In 1986, the Soviet sensing defeat replaced Babrak Kamal, the leader of Soviet affairs in the Afghan region with Muhammad Najibullah. After fierce fighting and resistance from the Mujahideen the soviet conceded defeat and agreed to sign a peace accord together with the US, and Pakistan. This necessitated the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghan territory. In 1989, the Mujahideen movement was able to drive out the Soviet soldiers. Their success was driven by their strong belief in Islam and their unity at the war. After the Soviet troops had left, the Mujahideen battled to depose Najibullah from Kabul. This generated into civil war, which continued even after Najibullah was defeated in 1992.

Rise of the Taliban

After the soviets were defeated and Najibullah overthrown, civil war prevailed in Afghanistan. The war was caused by infighting within the ranks of the Mujahideen. During the reign of Mujahideen leader Burhanuddin Rabbani, the fighting intensified as the various factions of the Mujahideen fought against each other. As the civil war, progressed Kabul was destroyed, and many civilians were killed or maimed by the frequent rocket blasts that hit the city. Because of the war, the Taliban rose to power. They took advantage of the state of the country and the devastation Kabul had suffered to ascend into power. They first appeared in Kandahar and later proceeded to capture Kabul in 1996. By the year 1998, the Taliban had gained control of key regions all over Afghanistan and had imposed Islamic Sharia law on the citizens. The cruel laws were based on vague interpretations of the Quran. These laws substantially undermined the rights of the Afghan people and received condemnation from people all over the world. Due to the continued abuse of human rights by the Taliban and its increased terrorist activities, the US and other concerned countries plotted an intervention strategy to curb its activities.

September 11, 2001 and the American Invasion

In October 7, 2001, the United States began a series of air strikes on Afghanistan. The military strikes were part of a combined force that included Germany, Australia, Canada, France and Great Britain. The US led attacks were retaliation to the attacks on American soil by the Al Qaeda on September 11, 2001. The United States attacked the strongholds of the Taliban in Afghanistan and bombed some of their hideouts. The military retaliation was meant to persuade Afghan authorities to hand over Bin Laden. Laden, purported to be the main mastermind of the 9/11 attacks was the leader of the extremist Al Qaeda terrorist movement.

The Taliban imposed strict laws on the people. Some of the laws included forcing men to grow beards and attend daily prayers. The Taliban also prohibited women from working. In 1998, the Taliban and the Laden-led Al Qaeda were accused of bombing US embassies in Africa. Al Qaeda operatives are also suspected of carrying out the twin terrorist attacks on the world Trade center and the Pentagon. The 9/11 attack claimed the lives of at least three thousand people. The United States identified the hijackers of the plane as members of the terrorist Al Qaeda group and prompted the US to launch significant attacks on Al Qaeda strongholds in Afghanistan.

The war on the terror masterminds began in earnest with the air strikes on October 7, 2001. The British allied troops worked on the ground in preparation for battle with the Taliban. The invasion of the British and allied forces caused the Taliban and Al Qaeda forces to withdraw Southwards towards the mountainous regions. The war led to temporary occupation of Afghanistan by US and allied troops to prevent the Taliban from restructuring and regrouping. In late 2001, the allies assisted the Afghanistan government in the formation of a security assistance force to assist the new government in containing the insecurity in the Kabul.

The defeat of the Taliban led to the installation of President Hamid Karzai as the new Afghanistan president in 2004. Since the invasion, however the security situation in Afghanistan has remained volatile with the Taliban resorting to suicide bombing. Many lives have been lost as a result, US and allied security forces have remained to assist the Afghanistan government in maintaining security. President Obama has repeatedly committed himself to the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan to let the Afghanistan government govern itself. This stance has been confirmed by NATO more recently. According to NATO, the US and allied forces plan to leave Afghanistan by 2014.

The Mineral Conflict in Afghanistan

Afghanistan is greatly endowed with mineral resources. According to an article in the New York Times by James Risen, several years after the invasion US authorities reported the discovery of vast oil and other mineral reserves in the middle-eastern country (Risen, 2010). The vast resources were virtually greater than previously envisaged. There were copper, lithium, gold, iron and cobalt deposits enough to be exploited. This discovery coming later placed Afghanistan among the mineral abundant countries in the Middle East. According to skeptics, this might have been one reason why the US and its allies made the decision to invade Afghan territory. Perhaps the notion of a war on terror was the veil meant to hide the real intentions of the US led invasion. The vast mineral resources in Afghanistan, the chaos and insecurity in the region provided major reasons for the US invasion. The invasion was made in the best interests of the nation. Any serious blow to Afghanistan’s major oil reserves would extensively affect the US economy. Afghanistan’s warlords have expressed their intentions to take control of its oil mines numerous times (Bowley 2012). If the oil fields in Afghanistan fell in the hands of the militants, then it is highly possible that the economies of the US and other countries will be affected. According to Patrick Martin (Martin, 2001), the well-orchestrated move to attack Afghanistan was not just a war. Martin claims that the invasion was planned way before the September 11, 2001 attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. As a superpower, the US acted in the interests of its people and the entire world.

US Military Intervention

The US has carried considerable military offensives in cases where there have been threats to world security. Among the most significant was their involvement in Iraq. This example points out two main factors usually at play in key US military excursions. First, the US intends to carry out pacification in conflict areas that result in key human rights violations. Second, US intervention occurs in areas the insecurity situation is a threat to world peace. The invasion of Iraq was executed a couple of years after the Afghanistan invasion. The US and several of its allies invaded Iraq in a bid to overthrow the government of President Saddam Hussein.

Eventually, the forces were able to capture the Capital city Baghdad and later on the president. The military intervention was meant to end President Hussein’s regime, which supported terrorists and disarm the country from nuclear and biological weapons. The US intervention was followed by an occupation meant to stabilize the country in the aftermath of the deadly war. The situation in Iraq remained volatile, and the US had the responsibility of ensuring everything went back to normal. The damage was immense, and there was a need to restore sanity in the industry, as well as security.

Withdrawal of US and NATO Forces

It is now twelve years since the US and NATO forces carried out the military excursion into Afghanistan. Since the invasion, the combined troops have been able to neutralize Taliban in the region as well as eliminate Osama Bin Laden, the world’s most wanted terrorist. The war caused massive destruction of property, loss of lives, displacement and brought the Afghan economy to its knees. After the war, the Afghanistan people had to be freshly resettled and assisted in restructuring and development to aid their ailing economy. The tough task of assisting Afghanistan to restructure fell in the hands of the US and other concerned world bodies. In addition to developmental initiatives, the Afghan people also faced many security issues.

Their security systems were in disarray. The war damaged massive security installations in the country rendering security systems ineffective in protecting the citizens against armed Taliban insurgents. This is a serious concern for Afghanistan in the wake of claims NATO and the US intend to withdraw all their troops by 2013. The occupation of Afghan territory by US forces since 2001 protected the country from the Taliban and assisted it in rebuilding. Skeptics foresee a return to civil war if both NATO and the US make good their withdrawal claims (Sale 2013).

Reports indicate that the Taliban are still quite active in some parts of Afghanistan even with the presence of US military troops in the country. Further indications show the reappearance of conflicts in significant resource centers (Bowley 2013). While there is a clear need for US and NATO forces to move out of Afghanistan, there is also the potential danger of civil war erupting after the exit. The Afghan government is much more vulnerable to conflict than it was twelve years ago. Warlords and militia in Afghanistan are slowly regrouping ready to make incursions into oil and mineral rich areas. The Afghan government, on the other hand, has repeatedly shown that it lacks the capacity to prevent such incursions. Violence continues to face major parts of the country with the Taliban using guerilla tactics and suicide bombing to attack security officers and installations. Many Afghans think that their government is not ready to take over the security responsibilities covered by the combined troops (Sale 2013). President Obama announced that the number of US troops in Afghanistan would be halved in the next one year to pave the way for full withdrawal of the US army.

Peace Mission

As a superpower, the United States has always resorted to interventionist practices whenever there was a serious security situation in some part of the world. This has repeatedly been observed in its interventions, in major wars across history. Since World War II, the United States has been involved in pacifying countries at war. While, in some cases, it opted for dialogue among the countries involved, some instances amounted to armed intervention. It has gained many enemies due to its increased involvement in international conflict. To protect itself from the increasing number of enemies and to increase it capability to wade of attack the USA has invested in an expensive military. This continuous arming of the military in expectation of violent confrontations usually causes bilateral tensions among foes. Such was the case with Afghanistan when America sought to dialogue with the Afghan authorities to hand over Bin Laden to no avail.

The refusal to hand over Bin Laden to America and the subsequent 9/11 attacks triggered the armed response against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. The Afghan intervention is a classic case of the peace studies theory where the United States carries out a military intervention in a case where there are extreme human rights violations. Intending to capture Bin Laden and crush the Taliban insurgency, the United States embarked on the military operation as a last resort. It was an attempt to restore peace in the war torn desert regions of Afghanistan and protect the world from the terrorist organizations based in the country. Afghanistan was immersed in civil war for a long time contributed in part by the Taliban organization and other uprisings (Filkins 2012). The war was a welcome initiative for the Afghan people who had suffered in the hands of the Taliban and other terrorist organizations. When America finally withdraws from Afghanistan, it will leave behind a peaceful country free from the control of Taliban extremists. The country’s peace efforts are slowly paying off. The Taliban has been reduced to a small rebel outfit occasionally attacking army bases. The recent announcement by president Obama that all US troops will be recalled from Afghanistan is clear evidence that the mission has been accomplished, and what remains can be handled by the Afghan government.

The Gains in Afghanistan

There have been many gains in the Afghanistan mission as far as the goal and purpose of the intervention are concerned. Most of the goals for the operation have been achieved. The Taliban has been overpowered and reduced to a small outfit only making insignificant attacks on government troops. Osama Bin Laden, the major sponsor of terrorist activities against the US and its allies was recently killed by Special agents. The death of Osama Bin Laden comes at a time when terrorist activities by the Taliban have been suppressed and their military might significantly reduced. The Al Qaeda presence within the borders of Afghanistan has been destroyed with increasing pressure on the remaining installations (De Young 2010). According to president Obama on the review of the progress made in Afghanistan, massive gains had been made by the US presence in Afghanistan (cooper and Sanger 2010). The US had eliminated the threat of extremist terrorist forces and placed Afghanistan on the path to economic and military revival. There was further need to strengthen the afghan security forces through training and funding to enable them to contain threats from remaining Al Qaeda and Taliban elements. Pacification efforts have been successful with the ethnic minorities being included in Karzai’s government. The Afghan economy is facing massive reconstruction. The war materially affected business and destroyed infrastructure. The revival is painstakingly slow but necessary in if the country is to return to its pre-war state. The US has pledged Billions of shillings for economic reconstruction and military training. There are also plans to leave behind a group of experts and professionals to aid in the development of policy and ideas that will assist the Afghan government to deal with major security and developmental issues facing the country.

Conclusion

The United States carried out a military excursion onto Afghanistan seeking to capture Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden for the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. The US intervention in Afghanistan was meant to destroy terrorist movements that frequently staged brutal attacks against the innocent. The mission carried out on Afghan soil also liberated the Afghan people from oppression inflicted by Taliban and Al Qaeda extremists. Peace studies theory explains this as a country’s endeavor to enhance peace. The US’s main intention was to destroy all terrorist installations in the country and capture their key leaders. The Afghan mountains were a perfect hideout for the world’s most dangerous terrorists. Another prominent issue that featured in this mission was the case of peak oil. Many claims have been presented that incorporate the issue of peak oil into the Afghanistan invasion. The peak oil claims are however unwarranted and represent a skewed perception of the real facts. The United States excursion into Afghanistan was primarily meant to eliminate terrorist elements based in Afghanistan. The mission was meant to benefit the whole world from increasing terrorist threats. It was also beneficial to the Afghan government because it helped them destroy extremist forces that were causing the government a lot of trouble. The invasion of Afghanistan was therefore a peace-building mission that would benefit the whole world.

References

Bowley, G. (2012, Sept 08). Potential for Mining Boom Splits Factions in Afghanistan. The New York Times.Cooper, H. & Sanger, D.E. (2010, Dec 16). Obama Cites Afghan Gains as Report Says Exit Is on Track. The New York Times.De Young, K. (2010, Dec 16). Obama says U.S. is ‘on track’ to achieve goals in Afghanistan. The New York Times.Filkins, D. (2012, July 9). After America: Will civil war hit Afghanistan when the U.S. leaves? The New Yorker.

Katzman, K. (2013). Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy. Congressional Research Service. Retrieved from http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL30588.pdf

Martin, P. (2001, November 20). US planned war in Afghanistan long before September 11. World Social Website.Nordland, R. (2013, March 2). Two Afghan Boys Accidentally Killed by NATO Helicopter. The New York Times.Risen, J. (2010, June 13). U.S. Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan. The New York Times.Sale, R. (2013, Mar 14). Afghanistan Faces “Massive Economic Constriction” after U.S. Withdrawal. Inter Press Service News Agency.

Zalman, A. (n.d.). War in Afghanistan-The history behind the US war in Afghanistan. Retrieved from http://terrorism.about.com/od/warinafghanistan/ss/AfghanistanWar_6.htm

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