Following the withdrawal of the United States and its allies from Afghanistan, the Taliban returned to power on August 15 after a 20-year hiatus. What has happened is a significant geopolitical change not only for the region but also, consequently, for the whole world.
Close Look at Events in Afghanistan and How They Affect Georgia
By Malkhaz Matsaberidze
Wednesday, August 25
The Americans overthrew the first Taliban government in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks (1996-2001). The reason for the Americans' entry into Afghanistan was the presence of al-Qaeda and bin Laden there. But what was the reason for their 20-year stay there? The idea of 'democratic reconstruction of the Middle East' then became popular among American neoconservatives.
If after the Second World War it was possible to put Germany and Japan on the path of democratic development, why can't the same be repeated in Iraq, Syria, or Afghanistan?
20 years of experience have shown that this is impossible. To put aside the issue of reasons for this, and focus on the statement as a fact. US President Joe Biden noted that the Americans had spent more than $20 trillion over 20 years building a civilian state in Afghanistan, formed the Afghan government, and left a 300,000-strong army, but found that neither the government nor the army wanted to fight.
The efforts of the Americans and their allies proved futile. Among the allies was Georgia, which, due to its capabilities, made a significant contribution to the construction of a non-aligned Afghanistan. Georgia has suffered 32 casualties and more than 100 wounded.
Georgia was a signatory to a joint statement issued by 98 countries on August 16 calling on the new Afghan government to maintain order and ensure the safety of its citizens. Now the first task for Georgia is to evacuate the rest of the 23 citizens from Afghanistan.
As mentioned, most of them are ex-military and have served in various private structures in Afghanistan. On August 18, 6 citizens were evacuated by a Hungarian plane. Let's hope that the remaining 17 will be released soon. But the connection of the events in Afghanistan with Georgia does not end there.
One of the main topics of discussion is the future relations between Georgia and the United States. Pro-Russian forces celebrate the victory - the Americans left their allies in Afghanistan, they will do the same with Georgia, they remember the 2008 war, when, according to their interpretation, the Americans incited the then Georgian government to go to war with Russia, and then left.
The opinion of the Western-oriented forces is divided: one hopes that after the withdrawal from Afghanistan, the United States will release huge resources that can be used to support other regions of the world, including Georgia;
Others, on the other hand, are pessimistic and believe that the isolationist sentiment in the United States will intensify and they will refuse to be active in the post-Soviet space while losing hope of establishing democracy in Georgia.
Georgian democracy, despite Western efforts, has not been able to move forward for years, and the Georgian Dream has demonstratively canceled the April 19 agreement mediated by the European Union and the United States.
Democracy is built by all countries independently, and in this regard, it is important how the confrontation between the government and the opposition ends in the October 2 local elections.
The West enthusiastically welcomed a change of government through elections in 2012, raising hopes for Georgian democracy again through a change of government through elections.
As for the threats posed by Afghanistan, shortly, this is the emergence of an influx of refugees from Afghanistan. This will be a serious additional problem for Georgia.
The Taliban are also expected to try to export radical Islam to the Muslim population of the Caucasus. The North Caucasus may be their target in the first place, but they do not rule out their activity among the Muslim citizens of Azerbaijan and Georgia.
The Taliban agency in the form of refugees may enter the country. Georgia was an active ally of the United States during the ongoing operation in Afghanistan and at the same time can not boast of strict border control.
The threat of Taliban expansion threatens Central Asia in the first place. Millions of Uzbeks and Tajiks living in Afghanistan will be good conduits for the Taliban to infiltrate these countries. This is primarily a headache for Russia. Russia sees the former Soviet republics of Central Asia as its sphere of influence, and if it wants to maintain its position, it must take care to strengthen its borders with Afghanistan.
In addition to Central Asia, the multimillion-dollar Muslim diaspora itself lives in the Russian Federation. Moscow hopes to resolve relations with the Taliban and not withdraw its embassy from Kabul like other countries.
Commentators note that for the past 20 years, Americans have been doing Russia's job in fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. This allowed Putin to ‘act freely’ against, for example, Georgia and Ukraine.
The Taliban arrived in Afghanistan earlier than the Americans expected. Maybe this quick victory was a surprise for the Taliban as well. Everything that is being written about the current situation is just predictions and a lot will be clear after the return of the Taliban to power reveals their real plans and capabilities.