Kabul fell to the Taliban on August 15 this year. Through this, power in Afghanistan passed into the hands of the Taliban. US troops left Afghanistan in late August. This marked the end of the 20-year Afghan war in the United States. The United States has failed to establish peace in Afghanistan in the last two decades. The same situation is now prevailing in West Africa. Analysts fear that the Sahel region is going to be like the final Afghanistan. A recent report in the British magazine The Economist raised the issue.
The United States has paid a high price for the longest war in Afghanistan. Thousands of US troops have been killed in Afghanistan. Every November, many Westerners, politicians, military personnel and celebrities gather to pay their respects to the warriors killed in the war for their country.
This year’s commemoration commemorates the 3,500 troops killed by the United States and its allies in the war in Afghanistan. The soldiers were killed before Western troops withdrew from Afghanistan this summer. In addition, the soldiers who lost their lives in Africa are specially commemorated on this day.
The Economist reports that soldiers killed in the African war are also buried in the Cenotaph in London or the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. They have lost their lives fighting jihadists in the Sahel region of West Africa. At the end of the ceremony, about 9,000 troops from Europe and the United States were re-deployed to the Sahel region. This means that even though the Afghan war is over, the overall war is not over yet. How the war in the world will end depends on whether the West can learn from its own failures in Afghanistan.
Many would argue that where there is no risk or pressure on the national interest, it is better to avoid fighting the rebels. But this is not the case in the Sahel region. In the region, jihadists allied with al-Qaeda and Islamic State (IS) have targeted Western countries. They are bombing Western embassies in West Africa. They are kidnapping or killing the citizens of the western countries who are there. If the jihadists are given a chance, it can be said for sure that they will also attack the soil of Europe or the United States.
The report quoted an unnamed Western general as saying that the main aim of the jihadists was to carry out attacks in Europe and the United States. And they have no cover in this matter.
That is why Western governments are looking at their interests in the region and taking a firm stand. Another reason is that Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger are among the most risky countries in the region. These countries are among the poorest. The population is also growing at a geometric rate. These countries will suffer the most from the effects of climate change. The jihadists do not have to gain much momentum to attack these fragile countries and turn them into rubble. It will displace millions of people from those countries, most of whom will flee the country to seek refuge in European countries. In this, European or Western countries have to handle the extra pressure.
How can this disaster be prevented? Analysts say the United States could have been more patient with the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. Because their army was not very large there. With such a small force, the Taliban could be suppressed in Afghanistan. Many casualties could have been avoided. Now it is up to the Western governments to continue their long struggle for their own interests. Especially in France, this fight must continue. Most of the troops in these areas are from France. French troops regularly conduct counter-terrorism operations there.
The report says that the United States has been foolish in trying to build a full-fledged democracy in Afghanistan. If they want to do the same thing in Sahel, it may take them decades. But instead of trying to build democracy in the Sahel, the West should move towards proposing a military solution. And it has to be realistic, acceptable to everyone.
In the 1990s, Niger’s minority Tuareg rebellion was met with military action. At that time the army was victorious. Because they promised the Tuaregs political representation of the country and a share of the state’s revenue. In Mali, more than 40 local peace agreements ended the conflict and brought relief to the country. However, in order to make this agreement lasting and successful, the participation or support of outside forces must be given.
In Afghanistan, despite the overwhelming military strength, it is difficult to suppress the insurgency without the support of the local people.
Analysts say there are allegations of bribery, corruption and murder in sub-Saharan Sahel, especially against Western forces in power. Due to these allegations, civilians are losing confidence in the Western-backed regime and are being isolated. They are taking refuge under the banner of jihadists. The government is unable to bring the corrupt troops to justice for fear of another coup. In this case, they can look to Niger as an example if they want. This is because, although jihadist or militant groups are more active in Niger, the country’s government has been able to discourage ethnic groups from engaging in conflict. There has been a sharp decline in communal violence.Uganda, meanwhile, could be an example to Sahel. Uganda has sentenced two of its peacekeepers to death for killing civilians in Somalia. Uganda has shown that criminal forces are not outside the law and can be controlled through punishment. In this case, the ruler of Sahel can follow the path of Uganda if he wants.
Analysts say Western rulers need to be honest enough with their voters. If they do not support a protracted war, the jihadists will wait until the troops are exhausted in the French-led operation. And what happened to Afghanistan will probably lead to the same situation in Africa. This is a matter of concern, which is by no means desirable.