Afghan failure shows the US is 'no longer willing to fight for its values'

Afghan-born former refugee Roh Yakobi despairs not only for his native country but for the global impact of the Taliban victory

Five days into the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan there are mounting reports of door-to-door searches, killings and disappearances while evacuation numbers are already in the tens of thousands.

Each day that passes seems to foreshadow a worsening humanitarian crisis as local hardships dominate coverage of Afghanistan.

For the Afghan-born political analyst Roh Yakobi the news from his homeland is deeply traumatic. From his London base he also foresees a global impact that will play out in the loss of progressive values, presenting the world with an “end of history” moment.

“This is not just America getting out of Afghanistan for America. This is another end of history," he told The National. "America is no longer willing to fight for its values.”

“This outpouring of emotions and sentiments driven by the news clips that we get from Afghanistan will soon change,” said Mr Yakobi, associate fellow at the Human Security Centre, a London-based foreign policy think tank. “We have to have a sense of realism about this … we don't have leaders who are committed to standing by the very values that they espouse.”

Mr Yakobi is a former refugee who fled Afghanistan as a 12-year-old, after being tortured by the Taliban.

He says abandoning the country to the militant group heralds the demise of the West’s commitment to defend and fight for its values and interests.

“It has ... put millions of Afghans at the mercy of a terrorist organisation [which can] then turn Afghanistan into a harbour again for terrorism in the world,” he said.

There has been widespread dismay at the way in which the US and Nato allies have – amid chaotic scenes – relinquished responsibilities in Afghanistan after a 20-year presence.

US President Joe Biden said he stood “squarely behind” his decision to withdraw US troops.

Mr Yakobi says American can’t just “magic away” a conflict and warns that Afghanistan will remain a problem for future American presidents.

“You've got Central Asian republics that all have the objectives to get the West out and now that they have the interests of all these main actors is going to diverge.

“So this is in itself a recipe for further conflicts, and the Taliban ... will be tested and pressured.”

Beyond concerns about the possible export of terrorism, western countries are also vocally concerned about the prospect of a tide of refugees arriving on their shores.

However, Mr Yakobi thinks there are larger and more ominous consequences for the balance of power between countries and continents.

“The greatest damage to the West is the damage to its credibility as a bloc that is committed to protecting its values," he said.

“This has been the trend since at least 10 years ago where, at every step of the way, western democracies have begun to give way to authoritarianism.”

The sharp shift to political right in EU countries like Poland and Hungary are already resulting in more repressive policies, he said.

“You can see the erosion of the credibility of the Western idea of a good life, democracy, liberalism and economic freedom.

“And this is the main thing, people are in shock at the moment but the fallout will be much, much greater,” Mr Yakobi said.

Updated: August 21st 2021, 3:00 AM
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