By Waslat Hasrat-Nazimi, DW
Afghanistan has been classified as supposedly safe for years. Now that the Taliban overran the country, some in the West are surprised. This hypocrisy must end.
No sooner had the US troops largely withdrawn than it went very quickly. Within a few days, the Taliban overran province after province. The provincial capitals fell like dominoes. Thousands of Afghans fled and hoped to find safe shelter in the capital Kabul – in vain. Even Kabul is now in the hands of the Taliban.
In the West, people watch in astonishment and sometimes in awe as the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan becomes an Islamic emirate within a few days. I keep getting messages and calls from friends and colleagues expressing their sympathy. A colleague from DW’s Arabic editorial team says he doesn’t really know why himself, but he is incredibly taken with what is happening.
The big lie of the Afghanistan mission
The reason many are shocked is that they are beginning to realize that twenty years ago their governments invaded Afghanistan not to stand up for human rights, but solely out of political interests.
Since the political interests have changed, since the cost-benefit calculation no longer works out, people want to get out, and as quickly as possible. It was all a big lie. Human rights? Women’s rights? Democracy? The Afghans should now settle this among themselves, said US President Joe Biden recently. He will not hand over the operation, which has been led by four consecutive US presidents, to a fifth.
Standing up for human rights
What he hides: The US invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 not only to fight the Taliban and Al Qaeda. They promised the Afghan people that they would democratize the country. One of the main arguments in favor of the occupation was the protection of the rights of Afghan women. Now, almost twenty years later, it is becoming clear that it was never about women or democracy. Everything was just empty rhetoric.
The same women who were appeased when they allegedly stood up for their rights too vehemently and who were promised that democracy and the rule of law would always prevail in the end are now thrown back into the darkness of twenty years ago. They were betrayed and sold. Many women’s rights activists fear for their lives.
The same hypocrisy can be found in the asylum policy of the EU and Germany. Afghans have been fleeing their homeland for many years. Nobody leaves their home country lightly. They are fleeing because the security situation in Afghanistan has continued to deteriorate.
Refugees must be admitted
All of this was ignored. Afghanistan was classified as “safe”. Many refugees were deported , others only tolerated. Thousands of Afghans live in inhumane conditions in Greece, Turkey and the Balkans. The EU politicians refused to acknowledge that the security situation in Afghanistan was desolate, that the intervention had failed.
Now that it is too late, they act in shock – the politicians, the media and the academics. Countries like Germany have a responsibility here. Instead of supporting warlords and corrupt politicians for years, they should have dealt seriously with the Afghan people and their culture. You should have listened to the women instead of appeasing them. Instead of building an army, one should have created a perspective together with the people in the country.
What now? The western states of the international community must grant the Afghan refugees asylum as quickly and as unbureaucratically as possible. They should finally take in those who are waiting for a decision in EU countries under sometimes poor conditions. The same goes for those who will come in the months and years to come from the devastated land that the West has left behind. That is the least that Europe can do for the people in Afghanistan.