It was 2001. The USA entered Afghanistan to oust the Taliban
Over the next 20 years, 3 trillion dollars were spent on the war
2,41,000 people were killed
2442 US soldiers lost their lives
More than 20000 US soldiers were left wounded or completely incapacitated
The US also spent $90 billion in the name of preparing Afghan forces to fight the Taliban
But who made the Taliban.?
It was none other than the US itself
It all started in the December of 1979 when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan under the pretext of upholding the Soviet-Afghan Friendship Treaty of 1978. It was the time when the West detested the Soviets, the Cold War was at its peak and thus the US couldn’t help but fling itself into the conflict. Soviets had already been facing resistance from the Mujahideens who were trained in the training camps of US-ally Pakistan under the pre-text that the Christian Soviets were defiling their holy religion of ‘Islam’. The concept of ‘Jihad’ for the first time found its way into the international community lexicon.
The Capitalist West united under the leadership of the US to turn Afghanistan into the Soviet Union’s Vietnam. With every passing year, the US and its allies, notably Saudi Arabia pumped in money to create the monster they called the Mujahideen. Pakistan worked closely on training these terrorists. With every Soviet helicopter downed and Soviet soldier killed, the Mujahideen gained prestige and power.
Mikhail Gorbachev, the new Soviet leader understood the hellhole that Afghanistan had become by the time and decided to retreat. The Geneva accords were hastily concluded and the last Soviet soldier walked out of Afganistan in 1989, bringing the war to an abrupt end. This was the Soviet bear trap. The Soviets were stuck in Afghanistan for a decade and their retreat was an embarrassing one. The USA got what it wanted from the Mujahideens but it soon lost control of the Taliban, and also, Pakistan.
These Mujahideens buoyed by the victory against the Soviets led by Mullah Mohammad Umar officially formed the Taliban in 1994. Within few months the strength of the group swelled to over 15,000. By the first week of November 1994, they occupied Kandahar and by January 1995, they were controlling 12 out of 34 provinces of Afghanistan. By Mid-1996, they were controlling over 80% of Afghan territory. By 1998, this became 90 per cent of the entire Afghanistan leaving a small part of Panjshir valley under the control of Ahmed Shah Massoud.
However, a terrorist outfit formed solely to thrive on chaos couldn’t handle the emptiness of no conflict. They started fighting amongst themselves, killing and replacing the self-proclaimed overlords. But after the Soviet Union fell and independent countries started fighting amongst themselves, the Taliban thought it would be wiser to create an Islamic caliphate by spreading the Saudi style Islam to the newly liberated Muslim territories.
Bands of Mujahideen swooped into Bosnia, Chechnya, Dagestan, Uzbekistan and even far away Somalia to create a Grand Islamic Emirate, a Caliphate of the Islamic Golden period. Backed by their financiers in Saudi Arabia and their mentors in Pakistan, the Mujahideen proliferated their ideas to unemployed and disenchanted Muslim youth in Europe, Asia and Africa, creating terrorists who ultimately struck at the heart of America on 9/11.
After its monster in the closet struck and struck painfully hard, America woke up. Osama Bin Laden, which was once backed by the Americans as the next big entrepreneur looking to clean the Soviet mess in Afghanistan conducted the biggest and the most horrific terror strike the world has ever seen. After the attack, Osama was holed up in Afghanistan with the protection of the Taliban.
Thus, the US invaded Afghanistan to avenge the 9/11 attacks within 12 years of Soviet withdrawal and find Osama. However, the tables had now turned. Friends turned enemies, that is the Taliban and other terror outfits had become the implacable foes.
For more than two decades, the US and its NATO allies propped up the Afghan regimes, much like the Soviet-backed regimes of Karmal and Najibullah. Spent billions of dollars to train the soldiers to mount an offence against the Gurellia forces of the Taliban. Lost thousands of US soldiers in the process, displaced millions of ordinary Afghans, even legitimized the Taliban but all to see it collapse within a matter of days.
With the Taliban making its plans clear of creating an Islamic kingdom of Salafi Islam, the region faces an existential threat. It will be a matter of time before the IS and the Taliban join forces.
Pakistan has dug a grave for itself by supporting the Taliban. However, it is the US that created, shaped, fed and funded the Taliban Frankenstein, one that is not going away anytime soon.