A new civil war in Afghanistan is brewing. Can we reverse it?

The former National Security Advisor to Afghanistan, Hamdullah Mohib, predicted in an interview for Arab News talk show ‘Frankly Speaking’ that the regime is not only close to collapsing but is on the brink of civil war

For those who have been following the situation, this is not unexpected. 

Since the fall of Kabul, marked by the West’s chaotic withdrawal, Afghanistan has been experiencing one disaster after the next. Right now the country is facing imminent economic breakdown – in one year, ten years of growth was reversed and – over 95% of people live below the poverty line, an increase of 65% since 2021.

The prospect of imminent civil war will only compound these humanitarian woes, making Afghanistan one of the (if not the) worst collapses of humanitarian conditions in the world. After all, Afghanistan has seen civil war before, but never during a heightened food, environmental, and economic crisis.

Dr. Mohib, who served as Afghanistan’s Ambassador to the United States during the Obama years before becoming Afghanistan’s National Security Advisor, states in the Arab News interview that the chances for the Taliban to avert all-out war fades with each day.

Much to the West’s oversight.

Next month’s G20 – for example – could be one of the last chances to not only recognize its egregious affront to women’s rights, or its crackdown on free speech, but also to re-evaluate what inaction means for everyday Afghan people. Whereas global powers do not officially recognise intergovernmental dialogue with the Taliban, a substantial international effort has been developing for releasing much-needed humanitarian aid, namely by the United States.

Despite these efforts, and in spite of all the US will to believe in the Taliban promises, all available information points to Afghanistan becoming a nursery for all sort of Jihadi groups, while also proving that the Taliban 2.0 disregards human values as the old Taliban rulers did.

Just consider how Ayman al-Zawahiri – al-Qaeda’s leader – was assassinated while living in Kabul. And some groups, like the Islamic State, choose to affirm its independence from the Taliban by attacking the Kabul airport during America’s withdrawal operation, and double-down on the fanatic and psychotic traits of the Afghanistan’s Taliban, just like the Taliban did when the West attempted to appease the Jihadi groups that preceded them.

The declarations of support to the Taliban expressed by Chinese leadership, which endorse their take-over of Kabul, led several analysts to expect the restart of stalled developments like the Chinese-led Belt and Road Initiative. However, as time goes by, the success of these economic projects seems ever more elusive.

So, what does this mean for regional and global security?

Firstly, let us consider the refugee crisis.

There are already more than 2.5 million known Afghan refugees across the globe – but if the Taliban is allowed to continue its ruthless rule this would exponentially grow.

Even those who were more enthusiastic about the Taliban’s takeover – such as Pakistan, the creator, and main logistical and financial supporter of the Taliban – have been forced to admit that they are struggling to manage the millions of Afghan refugees currently taking refuge in their country. 

And beyond the borders of Pakistan, the prospect of a global refugee crisis, or an increased security risk, would pose a remarkable challenge. After all, the West is navigating Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the consequential energy crisis and looming recession.

For years, the West’s appeasement of the promoters of terrorism has only left the world more unsafe, more dangerous, and more divided – a diplomat failure in all senses of the word.

Instead of repeating the old mistakes, such as restarting talks with the Taliban by US officials in the vain hope they will become more civilised and respectful of humanity, we must use opportunities (like this year’s G20) to acknowledge that disregarding the fragility of the rule of the Taliban does not protect Western interests or solve security threats. 

This might mean re-examining historical approaches to nation-building through unreliable ‘allies’ lens, instead using the universal power of human rights to unite the Afghan people and leverage diplomatic solutions – before violence breaks out.

The historic Abraham Accords, the visionary positions of Prince Mohammed bin Salman and, most in particular, the widespread revolution of the Iranian people against the misogynous, imperial, and terrorist promoting group occupying the leverages of power in Iran, are all fundamental elements that are profoundly transforming the Muslim World. 

And all of this comes from within.

Which is why we must – for example – not work directly with the Taliban but with grassroot actors which can help construct frameworks that speak to the Afghan people. For example, groups like the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), or the Muslim World League (MWL) – are crucial to the deliverance of aid.

If we gleaned anything from previous times – our efforts failed. And if they are to stay the same, they will fail again.

We will only continue to cause immeasurable suffering to the Afghan people, and in the end, to ourselves.

Paulo Casaca
Paulo Casaca
Paulo Casaca is a former Portuguese politician and a former Member of the European Parliament where he notably acted as Chair for the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. He is also the founder and executive director of the South Asia Democratic Forum and of the association ARCHumankind.