Fall of Kabul serves as warning for Sahel

Respected intellectual and influential activist, Moussa Tchangari, Secretary General of the Nigerien association “Alternative Espaces Citoyens” in a column called…

Respected intellectual and influential activist, Moussa Tchangari, Secretary General of the Nigerien association “Alternative Espaces Citoyens” in a column called on the Sahel’s ruling elites and their Western allies to undertake profound political reforms. Otherwise, the region risks suffering the same fate as Afghanistan, where the Taliban are returning to power twenty years after being driven out by the US army.In Afghanistan, a country that has been at war for 20 years, the Taliban have taken control of several cities, including the capital Kabul. The country’s president, Ashraf Ghani, is on the run, and the few senior members of his regime still in the country are preparing to hand over power to their sworn enemies.  This is what all the major world media are reporting; and all this has been played out in the space of a few days, as the deadline for the final withdrawal of the US army, the main pillar of the international coalition that launched the war in 2001, approaches.


In Washington, London, Paris, Berlin and Ottawa, the capitals of the great powers that have been involved in the war in Afghanistan for nearly 20 years, the leaders are in disarray. They are helplessly watching the return to power of the Taliban, having no more plans for this country where they have deployed thousands of soldiers and spent crazy sums of money, apart from evacuating their nationals and their Afghan “collaborators.” “This is not Saigon,” said a senior US official, but it is a debacle. In some respects, it is even more resounding than the one in Vietnam in 1975 with the fall of Saigon.


In the Sahel, where some of the states have been waging a harsh war against various armed groups ideologically close to the Afghan Taliban for some years, the fall of Kabul sounds a warning of what may happen in the coming years if the ruling elites and their Western supporters continue to ignore calls for bold political reforms. In any case, the fall of Kabul is a powerful indication that the war against armed jihadist groups cannot be won without such reforms, which are the only way to bring the greatest political and military force, namely “ordinary people,” into the fight.


After 20 years of fighting, which have resulted in huge losses of human life, mainly among the Afghan population, the Western armies, equipped with the most sophisticated war arsenals, have failed against the determined Taliban; but this failure is first and foremost that of the Western political leaders, who have committed all their forces (soldiers, arms, money, expertise) to this war, relying on a corrupt elite, which shares with the Taliban a deep rejection of democracy. One still remembers the Afghan elections which, although supervised by the “big democratic countries,” were marked by the grossest frauds.


In Afghanistan, 20 years of war have enriched a deeply corrupt elite, brought to and maintained in power by foreign armies; but it must be said that these 20 years of war have also enriched the Western military-industrial complex, security companies and experts of all kinds. The money swallowed up by this war, the human lives it has taken away, are a loss only for the “ordinary people” of Afghanistan and the small taxpayers of the countries involved; and it is because the war is not a misfortune for everyone that it is still going on in the Sahel, against a backdrop of corruption of the elites, denial of rights and refusal of dialogue and reform, at the risk of one day seeing “Talibis on motorbikes” pouring into the capital cities.


In the Sahel, it is urgent that men and women of goodwill stand up and proclaim that the current war cannot be won with the same foreign armies that did not win it in Afghanistan, but also with the same type of corrupt leaders who have no patriotism whatsoever, and the same type of defence and security forces, which sometimes commit serious abuses and are plagued by the business practices of their leaders. If this war is to be won, it will only be through a broad-based will and bold initiatives aimed at building a new political and social contract that restores sovereignty to the people and creates the conditions for a dignified life for the millions of people who are currently deprived of it.


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