Babur would be rolling in his grave to see his beloved city, Kabul, city of a large varieties of tulips and different wines, resembling Stalingrad during the Second World War. Many Afghans are angry; not with the perpetrators, but with their own government and their regional and international partners. They have become victims of an asymmetric war.
The resolve of the Terrorists, as well as their determination, cruelty and planning, far exceeds the bickering, naivete, confusion, exhaustion and cowardice of the Counter-Terrorists, despite the latter’s huge numerical and material advantages.
This asymmetric war is not confined to Kabul, it is truly global in nature and scale. Despite its spreading tentacles, unfortunately, the world remains divided over the causes, drivers and even the basic definition of this global threat. I would like to define it as Islamo-fascism ideology and its associated violence.
This is not a religious or a medieval theocratic phenomenon, but a modern political ideology, similar to other totalitarian ideologies. The Islamo-fascists shares a number of characteristics with other early totalitarian ideologies. They begin their narrative with one of victimhood and the consequent desire to avenge the injustice that others have inflicted on its real or imagined community. The revenge impulse then is broadened to include shaping and controlling the victimized community and coercing the enemy to its knees.
The totalitarian characteristics of the Islamo-fascists not only demand total control over its subjects and victims, but also its ability to utilize all means and concepts to advance its cause. In our particular case, Islamic concepts and texts, the grievances and backwardness of Muslims as well as the inherently weakening character of colonial legacies are selectively and cleverly utilized to support their end.
Let’s be clear. The Islamo-fascist ideology is similar to Nazi Germany in the 1930s, which used Socialist, Nationalist and Christian concepts and symbols and historical injustice to create the Third Reich.
The Alliance of Discord
The truth is that Afghanistan became the place for this monster to unveil his designs, beginning with the fight against the Soviet invasion in the 1980s and the consequent nurture and support provided by the anti-Communist coalition of the West, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and China. The 9/11 terrorist attacks on the US awakened the world to the evolution of an Arab bandit group in the badlands of Afghanistan into a serious global threat.
America’s initial response and impressive military success in Afghanistan, which included the building of an international coalition against terrorism was soon diluted. The West’s competing geo-political objectives, imperial hubris, historical Islamophobia, political naivete, duplicitous partners as well as failure to understand the centrality of Afghanistan as the frontline state against this totalitarian ideology, led to a gradual diminishing of its earlier enthusiasm.
Afghanistan’s elites also bear enormous responsibility for the deterioration of the security and political consensus. On one hand, for many Pashtun elites, restoring and consolidating their political supremacy in the new Afghan state became their primary concern and priority, rather than the threat of the Talibanization of their fellow Pashtuns.
For several former Mujahidin groups, looting national assets and international aid replaced their early resistance against the Taliban. Meanwhile, the Islamic World collectively failed to take seriously the threat of Islamo-fascism.
At the societal level, the main concern of Muslims worldwide has been to convince the world that “Islam is a peaceful religion”, even as their own Islamic governments have been incompetent, negligent and have even collaborated against their people.
Pakistan, for example, leverages Islamist groups as its strategic tool, alongside its nuclear weapons. This, while it remains consistent in its political statements and categorically rejects the accusation of a selective approach towards terrorism. India, however, remains reluctant to translate its political consistency and its enormous goodwill among the Afghans into effective political and security cooperation with Kabul.
Now Russia has become the latest member of this “Alliance of Discord,” with its embrace of the Taliban as an effective tool against its double adversaries, the Islamic State and the West’s geopolitical expansion. China, meanwhile, is obsessed with its ambition to replace the US as the world’s economic super power, oblivious to the looming threat of Islamo-fascism which sees China as its legitimate target.
The Way Forward
Equipped with ideological zeal, self-assured divine righteousness and anticipated salvation, the Islamo- fascists’ consider two groups of people as their legitimate targets. The first, for what these people have done and second, for who they are. This list of alleged misdeeds and flawed characters are long and exhaustive, which is what contributes towards their global reach. But the truth is, that first and foremost, ordinary, peace-loving Muslims are their main targets.
As Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya as well as Muslim communities around the world demonstrate, the survivability and vibrancy of the Islamic civilization is at stake. It has become more than imperative for Muslims to mobilize all their assets to confront this cancerous monster.
Particularly, it is vital that three key Islamic nations, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, should help the Islamic World in this war against the Islamo-fascists, rather than pursue their self-proclaimed status of Big Brother. In the case of Afghanistan, political elites should seize the enormous sense of anger among Afghans, from across all communities to resolutely and forcefully confront the Taliban.
The West failed to stop Pakistan from becoming a nuclear power and remains incapable of disarming it from its other strategic asset, terrorists. Today, only a united and concerted effort, similar to the international push against Iran’s nuclear ambition, can put an end to Pakistan’s use of terrorism as a tool of foreign policy and a means for Pakistan’s military corporate interest.
The former Soviet Union and the West built a formidable alliance against fascism and Nazism. But if Afghanistan as well as the region has to be saved, democratic countries like India must come to its aid. India can no longer outsource its responsibility to Washington to do the heavy lifting against Pakistan while accusing it of being a bad boy.
Kabul was among the early examples of a truly cosmopolitan city. Centuries ago, it was the home of indigenous Buddhist, Hindu, Zoroastrian, Jews, Sikhs as well as Muslims and a thriving regional business hub — a truly Khorassani city. For the Islamo- fascists, though, it remains a strategic and symbolic target to conquer.
Unfortunately, as Kabulis are forced to confront attack after murderous attack, they’re not sure whether or not the international democratic coalition has the determination and vision to prevail over these Islamic fascists.