Think what you like about our politicians and their handling of the pandemic but surely they couldn’t have got their handling of the withdrawal of troops in Afghanistan more spectacularly wrong?
I really don’t know where to start, it’s a total mess.
The Afghanistan story goes back to firstly to 1919. Although Afghanistan was never part of the British Empire, it gained its independence from Britain after the signing of the Anglo-Afghan Treaty in 1919, a treaty that granted complete neutral relations between Afghanistan and Britain.
This ushered in a new era of friendly British-Afghan relations.
Fast forward to December 24th 1979, which I remember from school was when the Soviet Union(as it was known then) invaded under the pretext of upholding the Soviet-Afghan Friendship Treaty.
The treaty was signed in 1978 and the two countries agreed to provide economic and military assistance. Afghanistan borders Russia and was always considered important to its national security and a gateway to Asia. Russia had long tried to establish strong ties, holding interests there for centuries.
A 1978 communist revolution in Afghanistan and its subsequent one-party state, run by head of the communist party Nur Mohammed Taraki, was extremely unpopular with the Afghan people and the Soviets attempted to bolster it with the treaty.
However, in September 1979 Taraki was overthrown and killed by members of the Afghan Communist Party who were unhappy with him.
So, in December Russia entered Afghanistan to re-establish a government closer to its desires.
The subsequent 10 year war has been described as ‘Russia’s Vietnam’, with the country sending in thousands of troops, spending millions, and ultimately retreating. The militants who they were fighting were known as the Mujahideen and ironically were backed by the United States, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, China, and the United Kingdom.
The war created a breeding ground for terrorism and the rise of Osama Bin Laden. So the West were ultimately to blame for what followed.
Which we all know by now became known as President George W Bush’s “War on Terror” and the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 was a direct response to the attacks of 9/11 on America. The US and its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) allies prepared to invade when the Taliban refused to hand over Osama bin Laden.
Twenty years later from May 1st the US began to pull out followed closely by NATO and basically that should have been that and they all lived happily ever after. Well not quite because this is Afghanistan and as soon as they started to leave the Taliban moved in to take over with hardly any resistance from Afghan forces. So much so that by this week they pretty much had control back of the whole country including the capital Kabul.
Recent figures put out by the British government put the total cost of major operations in Afghanistan in the low twenty billions.
But independent analysts think the true operational cost could be around double that figure. And this is without trying to count the additional costs to the health service of caring for wounded veterans over their lifetimes.
The major cost though isn’t money, it’s the human cost. Over the last 20 years of deployment in Afghanistan there have been 457 deaths of UK armed forces personnel. The question needs to be asked, has their sacrifice been for nothing? Well it would seem so as the position of the country seems to be exactly as it was when they began. Not only are there the deaths of soldiers but of the ones who survived many are suffering Post Traumatic Stress Order(PTSD). Someone with PTSD often relives the traumatic event through nightmares and flashbacks, and may experience feelings of isolation, irritability and guilt. They may also have problems sleeping, such as insomnia and find concentrating difficult.
These symptoms are often severe and persistent enough to have a significant impact on the person’s day-to-day life.
If that isn’t bad enough what about the abandoned people of Afghanistan? Anybody who helped the coalition forces or was part of the Afghan Army must be fearing for their lives. It isn’t a great outlook for Women and children too. The Taliban say they are willing to change but I think the jury will be out on that one. Let’s see if we return to the terror attacks that started all this 20 years ago and in the meantime Governments around the World should be hanging their heads in shame.
Take care everyone and enjoy your Weekend!
Richie presents the Radio One Mallorca Breakfast show Monday to Friday 07.30-11.00am on 93.8fm in Mallorca and 102fm in Calvià, online at www.radioonemallorca.com on mobile through their free App for IPhone & Android, The Tunein Radio App, iTunes, the Spanish TDT TV service and all smart speakers. If you can’t hear him on the radio then you’ll find him working at Pirates Adventure the islands number one night out and every now and again he may make an understudy appearance!
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