On the twentieth anniversary of 9/11, the Taliban reappear in triumph on the Afghan scene. A loop of errors is closed that seems to refer to the starting point, as if nothing had changed, in a circular march of history. Not at all. In the interim of the War on Terror there have been two tectonic movements and a change of course. China, India or Vietnam emerge: Asia comes to the fore. The Middle East implodes: Syria and Libya pulverized, Lebanon decaying, and the Shiite-Sunni divide sharper than ever. The rise and fall of two blocks. And the United States pivots toward the Pacific, distancing first, and approaching second on the Indo-Pacific flank. The departure of Afghanistan responds to this new orientation, leaving the abysmal pit of the Afg-Pak-Taliban network at the disposal of its rivals, China, Iran and Russia. Will they go into it?
Moreover, these 20 years prove that the United States groped its way into Afghanistan and acted ready, betting on a forceful military response, accompanied by a huge deployment of economic resources, but ignoring that it is not enough to enforce its punitive intention or use billions of dollars. There are internal factors that have been overlooked. The religious and tribal cohesion of the Pashtuns, the asabiya or “clan spirit”, which was analyzed by the Arab historian Ibn Khaldun, transferred in Islam to the religious level of the community, and steeled in this case by the Islamic deobandi current that Pakistan promoted , precisely as a counterweight to a secularization that would strengthen local nationalisms.
It is a motivation of feelings and emotions without equivalence in Afghan nationalism, unifying against foreign invaders, but at the same time the germ of despotism and insurrections. A dynamic of constant internal confrontation, due to the inability to develop effective governance.
The West, faced with the need to establish some kind of relationship with the Taliban, finds itself trapped in its humanitarian vocation. Hence the urgency of setting conditions for effective recognition, glimpsed until yesterday by the promises of moderation. In vain. The announcement of a new interim government, excluding minorities and women, with no legitimacy, for the moment closes the door even to all financial aid and highlights that the word of the Taliban has dubious value. What to do with the promise of rejection of jihadist terrorism? By appointing a person like Sirajuddin Haqqani, wanted by the FBI, whose network is linked to Al Qaeda, as Minister of the Interior, the henhouse has been placed in the care of the wolf. We will have to keep evaluating events and in the meantime, inevitably, maintain contacts. Recognition will have to wait. 20 years after 9/11 the future is yet to be written.