By Clifford Mason
A US withdrawal from Afghanistan in May would return the country to a state of war and disorder, a Kabul insider has claimed.
Professor Zaker Hussain Ershad, who heads Afghanistan’s Avicenna University board, told Redaction Politics last week the country relies on the US presence for peace.
The news comes as President Joe Biden’s administration reviews plans made under former president Donald Trump to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by May.
The plans formed part of an unprecedented Taliban peace contract, but have been followed by a high level of violence despite ongoing peace talks.
“Violence level remains very, very high… which is shocking and deeply disappointing,” a senior US State Department official told AFP.
“It is unquestionably damaging the atmosphere for any kind of a settlement of Afghanistan’s conflict.”
Professor Ershad said Afghanistan’s political hierarchy is one reason US plans to leave would not result in success.
“The nature of order in Afghanistan is vertical and political, not horizontal and cultural”, he told Redaction Politics.
“What this means is that the existence of political hegemony is capable of creating order in Afghanistan.
“With the withdrawal of U.S. troops, hegemony is lost and the balance of threats falls into violence.”
Professor Ershad also claims war is too profitable to encourage Afghan political elites to make a real effort to end it.
In 2020 Transparency International ranked it in the top 20 most corrupt countries on earth, joint with Congo and Burundi.
The political elites’ interests, according to Professor Ershad, are more feasible during conflict than peace.
Afghanistan’s mafia that controls mines and resources in the country also fosters instability, he added, saying: “Naturally, with the absence of a central power, the mafia’s scope of action increases.
“Therefore, the withdrawal of U.S. forces would mean a reactivation of all the capacities of war and disorder in Afghanistan.”
While most critics agree with Professor Ershad’s perspective, it is still uncertain how Biden will choose to act.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has urged the new president to avoid rushing the withdrawal, but it’s clear Biden has a serious dilemma on his hands.
The new president has in the past advocated a smaller US presence in foreign conflicts, but the threat Al-Qaeda poses may mean he has no choice but to remain.
“The continued presence of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, while strengthening a political system of a relatively democratic nature in Afghanistan, also secures immunisation from the dangers of extremism,” Professor Ershad said.
“With Biden and the Democrats in office, there is hope that cooperation between republicans in Afghanistan and U.S. strategic interests has become more favourable than before.”
He said peace and political order in Afghanistan are impossible without international support, including that of the US.
He added: “Democratic order demands democratic brokers.
“And while Afghanistan is a country where democracy is spoken of, there is no democrat in it.”
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