August 16, 2021 Special Dispatch No. 9500

Articles In Arab Press: U.S. Defeat In Afghanistan Was Expected, Will Have Far-Reaching Consequences

August 16, 2021
Saudi Arabia | Special Dispatch No. 9500

The U.S. exit from Afghanistan and the Taliban takeover of the country sparked a wave of reactions in the Arab media. Many articles presented the U.S. withdrawal as a defeat, and added that it was not surprising –  since, in its 20 years in the country, the U.S. did not manage to establish a stable pro-American regime there that could develop the country and be accepted by all components of the Afghan public. The articles claimed further that the U.S. defeat in Afghanistan, like its previous defeat in Iraq, will have far-reaching consequences, including a decline in America's status and a rise in the status of its rivals, such as China and Russia.

The following are translated excerpts from two of these articles.

Taliban leaders in the Presidential palace in Kabul (Source:, August 15, 2021)

Al-Quds Al-Arabi Editorial: U.S. Must Draw Lesson From Afghanistan Defeat

The August 16, 2021 editorial of the London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi was headlined "Is It Accurate to Compare The Events in Afghanistan to Vietnam?". It stated: "Many [media outlets] published pictures of large helicopters evacuating Americans from the embassy in Kabul… alongside similar photos of helicopters evacuating [Americans] from Saigon after the Vietcong forces and the People's Army of Vietnam entered the capital of South Vietnam in April 1975. This  clearly hinted at the similarity between the two events and presented them as the greatest defeats in the modern history of the world's greatest superpower [the U.S.]. 

"In response to this comparison, and to the presentation of the events as a defeat for his country, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, in interviews with CNN and ABC, that what is happening in Kabul is clearly different from what happened in Saigon because the U.S. has achieved its mission in Afghanistan. These two claims are an attempt to empty the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan of its [real] meanings, the most important of which is that the U.S. forces and their many allies in Afghanistan have been defeated in practice, and that is what compelled them to leave the country. Blinken is also trying to mislead his people  by saying that the goals of America's military invasion [of Afghanistan] have been achieved.  What happened in practice is that the U.S. offensive in 2001 was aimed at overthrowing the Taliban regime  – which refused to surrender Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden – but America's 20-year effort to establish a pro-American regime in Kabul and help it [survive] ended in a catastrophic failure. So after the longest war in its history, the U.S. was forced to withdraw amid an offensive by the Afghan Taliban, which, following some brief maneuvering, came back to power [in Afghanistan].

"Blinken tried to blame the events on the Afghan political regime, whose president, Ashraf Ghani, announced his resignation yesterday (August 15) and fled to neighboring Tajikistan. [Blinken] said that four U.S. administrations 'invested billions of dollars in the Afghan armed forces, but they have failed to beat back the Taliban's advance. ' These statements too are pointless,  because the political responsibility for this issue rests mainly with the consecutive U.S. administrations. 

 "For the Afghans (and the Americans), [the main objective] – more important than the huge waste of funds on [maintaining] the U.S. forces that operated on Afghan soil and on training the Afghan army and security forces – was the establishment of a mechanism for rebuilding the Afghan nation…

"All of the above – as well as the huge waves of displaced Afghans fleeing the advancing [Taliban forces], the clear indications given by the Taliban as to its future treatment of women and their rights… and the Western country's threats to impose sanctions on the country if the [Taliban] movement seizes power [there] – clearly indicate that Afghanistan is facing a bitter fate, and the world will follow the developments there with concern…

"What happened is a great event that will have far-reaching regional and global repercussions, and everybody, especially the U.S., should draw conclusions from it and speak honestly about the [U.S.] defeat [there], instead of hiding behind statements that do nothing to explain the reality or change it."[1]

Article In Saudi Daily Al-Watan: It Was Expected That the U.S. Occupation Would Be Replaced By A Taliban Occupation

Journalist 'Abd Al-Wahhab Badrakhan wrote in his column in the Saudi daily Al-Watan: "The U.S. invasion deluded the Afghans into believing that the nightmare of the Taliban had been eliminated, and allowed them to dream of a country that could be lived in, and now the [U.S.] withdrawal has accelerated the return of the nightmare and killed all the dreams. What has been defeated in Afghanistan is not military might, but rather the American plan, in every aspect. Washington bears responsibility for this, as well as the political [leadership] in Afghanistan, which missed a historic opportunity for the sake of inconceivable levels of corruption and endless partisan squabbling.

"Washington is to blame first of all because it formed a regime in Kabul that was the least of all evils, and the Afghans are to blame because, for 20 years, they failed to invest the required efforts to mend this regime and develop it. Moreover, they ignored the reasons for the continued existence of the Taliban movement, with its military forces and its strongholds. If only a small part of the two billion dollars [invested by the U.S. in Afghanistan] had been dedicated to developing parts [of the country], alongside the military expenditure, the Taliban would not have managed to use the corruption of the ruling echelon to incite its public against it. Finally, perhaps the greatest American-Afghan failure was that no accepted national authority was established that could reunite the country and form an alternative to the Taliban.

"The American plan was also defeated in Iraq. Before its withdrawal in 2011, the occupation hurried to form a new regime [there], and began dismantling the existing state and its army in order to please the 'new rulers.' These seemed to be highly capable, except when it came to establishing a state for all Iraqis. After receiving vast bribes from the Americans, they began to openly proclaim their loyalty to the Ruling Jurisprudent in Iran, consolidate their corruption and form mini-states for their parties and militias. At the same time, all the historic disputes and sediments welled up again, causing the fitna [civil strife] that gave rise to ISIS, more criminal and cruel [even] than al-Qaeda.

"Here too the failure to establish a stable regime was the fault of America, no less than of Iran and Iraq. Subsequently, the war on terror ruined the economy, and gave Iran and its militias an opportunity to grant the Popular Mobilization [Units] [2]  a status parallel to that of the official armed forces.  Although the Al-Qadhimi government managed to score some points for the state, it was forced to request a downsizing of the U.S. presence in Iraq, while the Iranian presence became more entrenched and more cruel, as though inspired by the model of the Taliban.

"Two wars and two occupations, in Iraq and Afghanistan, yielded the same catastrophic results, with [only] tiny differences. But their costs and repercussions will have far-reaching effects on the geo-strategic level, for they helped to strengthen China, which now wants to compete with the U.S., and not only on the commercial level. Russia too has resumed its role as a player in the international arena… Naturally, Washington is waiting for a big confrontation in southeast Asia, but its painful defeat in Afghanistan has exposed the decline [in its status], which will soon have a visible effect on all the roles it used to fulfill, or monopolize, in the 'Greater Middle East.' Wherever you look today, you see conflicts that the U.S. had a hand in igniting and fanning, for various reasons, but other forces are competing with it, and even defeating it, in attaining these goals.

"The U.S. administration sees its scope for intervention shrinking in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and Palestine. For a while, it was commonly thought that [the U.S.] had reached understandings with the Taliban about a road map for the [U.S.] withdrawal and for the subsequent period, especially the interim stage. But the [Taliban] movement's rapid advance, and its determination to [attain] full military control [of the country], prove beyond any doubt that the Taliban considered only [one scenario]: of a [U.S.] withdrawal and [the Taliban's] return to power [after] defeating the Afghan army despite its superior numbers and seizing the advanced American arms it possesses. The Kabul government is no longer humiliated but rather marginalized, and its only [possible] fate is to fall. This comes as no surprise, for [we are dealing with] the Taliban, which was bound to replace the U.S. invasion and occupation with an invasion and occupation of its own. The fact that the Taliban is integral to Afghanistan is immaterial, as long as it subjects the people to persecution and expulsion."[3]   


[1] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), August 16, 2021.

[2] An umbrella organization in Iraq, consisting mostly of pro-Iranian Shi'ite militias, which operates in parallel to the Iraqi armed forces.

[3] Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), August 16, 2021.

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