Former Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1991 to 1993, Lakhdar Brahimi, 88, was appointed on October 3, 2001, United Nations Special Representative for Afghanistan, a position he had already held from July 1997 to October 1999. He is entrusted, at the same time, with a similar mission for Iraq. In these two countries, the United States delegated to him, in fact, the coordination of political and institutional issues. He left Afghanistan in 2004 and the UN in 2005. He was still, for a few months, a member of a peace committee, The Elders, alongside former senior politicians and Nobel Prize winners.
How would you qualify the American departure from Afghanistan after twenty years of presence?
It is not a military defeat. It’s like the French and Algeria. It was the United States that decided to leave. They wanted it since the day they killed Bin Laden. After that, there were no good times to go out. In 1989 the Soviets were forced to leave the country, and in the XIXe century, the British suffered real defeats.
And then, why always speak of an American defeat, it is above all a victory of the Taliban, attributable to their tactical genius. It is a great idea to have started their offensive in the North. Everyone was waiting for them in the South because it was a piece of land they had acquired. Before being Islamists, they are Afghans who do not give up. It is said that Pakistan chewed up their work, but why not also say that there are intelligent and educated Taliban. It is not the first world power to have to leave Afghanistan.
Could we imagine any other end than this brutal fall of the Afghan regime and the chaos of evacuations?
Yes. Peace was possible with the Taliban. But still we would have had to talk to them, before and after their fall, in 2001. However, there was a unanimous refusal to dialogue with them. In the years following the Bonn conference at the end of 2001, which laid the foundations for the Afghan state, it was impossible to integrate them. For the American neocons in power, Donald Rumsfeld [secrétaire à la défense du président George W. Bush] in the lead, a good Taliban was a Taliban in prison or dead.
In reality, they had not beaten the Taliban, they had dispersed them. The mass, 200,000 to 300,000 people, combatants, administrators, were still at large, in Afghanistan or in Pakistan. When I said to the Americans, “Don’t you think you have to know what they’re thinking? », I got no answer. Pakistan, historically close to the Taliban, could have played a role, but it was offside. For Iran, Russia, India, the United States and their English or French allies, it was “Forget about the taliban” [oubliez les talibans].
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