Political Science Paper on 9/11 changes in Afghanistan
The 9/11 attacks, which are also known as September 11 attacks describe a chain of four organized terrorist attacks that were perpetuated by the Al-Qaeda Islamic group in the U.S. on eleventh September in 2001. The terrorist attacks perpetuated the killing of over 2900 people while more than 6000 others were seriously injured. Similarly, properties as well as infrastructures worth of more than ten billion dollars and over three trillion dollars respectively were destroyed. The attacks started when four United States’ passenger airplanes that had departed from airports in the Northeastern part of United States headed to California were hijacked by nineteen terrorists belonging to the Al-Qaeda Islamic group (Wahabuddin 2012: 1289). Two of the hijacked airplanes were crashed against the Northern and Southern towers in New York City’s World Trade Center. This led to the collapse of both 110-storey towers. The resulting debris as well as fires caused partial or total collapse of all the adjacent buildings in the trading complex including a forty-seven-storey tower and other major structures in the surrounding. A third airplane was crashed against the Pentagon in Virginia causing its partial collapse especially on the western side. Additionally, the forth airplane, which was initially directed towards Washington DC crashed into an open field after a long struggle between its passengers and the terrorists (Gerald 2012: 90). While these attacks turned out to be the deadliest particularly among the fire fighters and United States’ law enforcement agents, suspicions for such misdeeds were quickly directed towards the Al-Qaeda.
As a result of these suspicions, the United States, in response to the attacks, launched an anti-terrorism war and invaded Afghanistan with the intention of deposing the Taliban, which was believed to harbor the Al-Qaeda. On the same note, many other countries fortified their anti-terrorism laws and intensified the supremacy of law enforcement as well as intelligence agencies to curb further terrorist attacks (Greenberg 2013: 89). Although Osama had initially denied any involvement in these attacks, he later claimed responsibility, citing the United States’ support towards Israel, its troops’ presence in Saudi Arabia as well as its financial and trade restrictions against the Iraqi republic as the driving motives. Osama, who had evaded capture for more than a decade, was however captured and murdered by members of United States military force in 2011. The effects of the 9/11 attacks generated a great deal of focus on terrorism by the US government not only in its jurisdictions but also around the world. For instance, United States’ Homeland Security Department was initiated in order to help coordinate activities between security agencies and airports as well as enhance coordination and intelligence between nations. This generated a great deal of impact and subsequent changes in various countries that were involved in various anti-terrorism ventures (Hayat 2012: 966). This paper explores the various changes that emerged in Afghanistan after the terror attacks. It will specifically look at changes relating to human rights, security and nation building.
Post 9/11 changes in national building, human rights and security
Changes in nation building
In regard to changes in nation building, the post 9/11 events and the subsequent fall of the Taliban regime transformed the manner in which Afghanistan construct as well as structure its national identity by employing state power. The Bush Administration, after overthrowing the Taliban regime, sent James Dobbins to assist Afghanistan in selecting a successor in government. As a result of this intervention, Afghanistan started transforming from a nation of warlords to a sovereign nation as well as from a country of tribal chieftains to a country of elegant intellectuals. This transformation led to the end of a major combat, which in return terminated the collaboration that prevailed between Afghanistan and Bush’s war-oriented cabinet (Louis 2006: 50). As a result, Afghanistan assumed a central role in adjusting its perspective as a nation-builder, disengaged the American troops from peace-keeping operations as well as dispatched foreign troops from within its jurisdiction. In effort to build its national cohesion, Afghanistan has single-handedly exerted significant pressure on Al-Qaeda as well as its related insurgent networks. This has in return disrupted the militants’ ability to coordinate as well as undertake operations from within the nation’s jurisdictions. Although the U.S. military forces were necessary to push extremist networks in the previous decade, the new Afghanistan’s perspective on nation-building has seen the Afghan forces solely assuming the responsibility of securing the country in future decades. This commitment has seen the Afghan forces making significant strides in promoting national security and cohesion (Rabasa 2014: 70). Further transformation in Afghanistan’s approach to nation-building has emerged from its recent commitment to establish a credible National Security Force that would set up the stage for establishing a lasting political solution. As such, the National Security Force has entered into a bi-lateral security contract that will perpetuate victorious political transition while on the other hand improving the previously thwarted Afghan-Pakistan relationship. The post 9/11 events have further transformed Afghanistan’s approach to national reconciliation (Gary 2014: 101). This is because the country has today opted for an inclusive approach to reconciliation, which will in return provide everyone in the country with the opportunity to determine the country’s political future. This strategy is contrary to that adopted during the Taliban regime. This is because the strategy adopted during this regime sought to promote the power of a small group of rebels, which in return perpetuated national disintegration. Further changes in Afghanistan’s approach to nation-building are evident in the manner the Afghan forces are planning combat operations so as to ensure that the country thrives against the Taliban as well as other insurgent networks. This has in return ensured that the Taliban regime does not regain its dominance in the country but has instead been suppressed under a more sovereign government. The Afghan forces are thus conducting special operations that include military patrols to ensure that the Taliban among other rebel groups do not undertake any attacks from within the country (Boyle 2015: 456). Similarly, Afghanistan, through the support of the U.S. government has shifted its attention from merely engaging in fight with the Taliban to creating a functional force that will promote political stability and the subsequent national unity. As such, the U.S. has assisted Afghanistan in developing systems, institutions as well as processes that would support the modern army and military forces to ensure that they can effectively work towards securing their nation after foreign forces and government coalitions withdraw their support.
Changes in human rights
As pertains changes in human rights, the events that emerged after the 9/11 attacks as well as the overthrow of the Taliban regime led to significant promotion and protection of women rights that had been violated for a long time (Shaheed 2011: 750). Women under the Taliban regime were denied any right to education and medical care while on the other hand being publicly executed for immorality-related allegations. The fall of the Taliban regime however opened the avenue for the fulfillment of basic rights for both women and girls. This is because official restrictions that barred women from accessing education, employment opportunities and healthcare were terminated. This has allowed millions of young girls to access basic education for the first time while women are able to access employment, win elective posts in government as well as become military officers and soldiers. Additionally, a new constitution that was launched in 2004 guaranteed equal rights for all people including women. A new law was also put into place in 2009 and it made any form of cruelty against women an offense (Nesam 2014: 399). These changes in women rights are however underlain by deeply seated challenges. This is because Afghan women have continued to face public humiliation, harassment, threats as well as murder. Girls are also at the risk of entering forced and underage marriages as well as domestic violence, which are widely accepted in the wider Afghan society. Today, more than four hundred women and girls are serving prison sentences for “moral crimes” that include engaging in extramarital affairs and eloping from domestic violence. Although education is more accessible today than during the Taliban regime, over half of girls in the country do not have access to basic education. The state of health among women in the country is equally wanting. Although women’s rights to quality healthcare have long been approved, a woman dies after every two hours following pregnancy-related complications. Despite these gaps, a recent announcement on possible departure of foreign forces from Afghanistan poses possible risks of women rights violation in the country. This departure could mark the end of efforts by Afghan government to promote as well as protect women’s rights. This is because the foreign forces may no longer continue pushing the Afghan government to fulfill this commitment (Gary 2014: 78). The departure may as well lead to drastic decline in foreign aid that funds schools as well as clinics that have continued to change many lives particularly among women. The potential gaps in the protection of women’s rights in Afghanistan are however bound to be filled through the currently ongoing peace negotiations between the Taliban militants and the Afghan government. This is especially because women leaders are likely to take part in these negotiations, which will create an opportunity for them to positively bargain about their fate. Similarly, a statement issued by the Ulema Council, which is a government-funded board of religious leaders has potentially paved way for the initial steps towards the protection and promotion of women’s rights. The statement prohibits any traditional practices that coerce young girls into forced and underage marriages. It also promotes women’s rights to inherit and own properties (Zegart 2009: 295).
Changes in state of security
Despite the positive impacts that the post 9/11 events have had on nation building and human rights, the state of security has significantly deteriorated particularly because of the constant interference by the U.S government as well as the overthrow of the Taliban. Major changes in Afghanistan’s security started taking shape immediately after President Bush’s declaration of the World’s War on Terrorism, which was primarily intended to dismantle the al-Qaeda Islamic group as well as end the Taliban regime that was supposedly harboring the terrorists. Years after the fall of the Taliban regime, Afghanistan, with the support of the U.S. and the U.K among other nations launched a major operation intended to perpetuate lasting security in Afghanistan through security Kabul while on the other hand keeping the overthrown regime away (McGeough 2011: 138),). This operation could have marked the beginning of improved security in the country especially because most members of the Al-Qaeda group were captured. However, the fact that a significant number of rebels escaped into the neighboring countries such as Pakistan while others retreated into the rural as well as the remote mountainous regions indicated that the state of security in Afghanistan had started deteriorating long after the 9/11 attacks had ended. Although the UN gave a new command that required ISAF to enhance security in Kabul as well as the surrounding areas, a breach of security in Afghanistan emerged at this juncture as this new mandate did not extend beyond Kabul thereby exposing other areas in the country to insecurity risks (Gokay 2013: 76). Despite the new establishment intending to enhance security in Afghanistan, overthrowing the Taliban regime has further led to its reorganization into an insurgency that operates against the Afghan government as well as ISAF. Further breach on Afghanistan’s national security has emerged at this point as Taliban remnants that had escaped to the neighboring regions have increasingly regained confidence and started recruiting other people into a jihad movement that particularly operates in Pashtun religions in Afghanistan as well as Pakistan. Small training camps that move from one location the other have also been founded along the Afghani border to equip recruits with skills needed to engage in constant attacks. At this point, it is obvious that efforts intended to promote national security have continued to be challenged especially because the nation’s military forces had to concentrate of thwarting any potential attacks by the Taliban rather than concentrating on more serious matters (Crockatt 2013: 719). Taliban, after being overthrown from power, has also resolved to assemble in small groups of about fifty individuals to initiate attacks on segregated regions. This has led to indirect attacks on coalition forces using rockets as well as locally made explosive devices. On the other hand, the Al-Qaeda forces have come up with a bolder tactic to attack American forces situated in varying locations in Afghanistan by use of intense ambushes. The initial sign of this tactic became evident during Operation Mongoose when a group of rebels were attacked by United States military forces at the Ghar cave. Eighteen of these rebels were reportedly killed but there were no U.S. casualties. This marked the beginning of isolated attacks by large groups of Taliban bands that targeted Afghanistan. Significant changes in the state of security in Afghanistan have also been marked by gradual increase in Taliban attacks on the civilians, humanitarian workers, Afghan military soldiers as well as several U.S. military forces. In addition to the guerilla attacks, the Taliban fighters have started building forces in Zabul where they host over one thousand guerrillas. This has further destabilized security especially because the guerilla forces have killed more than two hundred and twenty people including several Afghan soldiers. The state of security in Afghanistan further continued to deteriorate following a major decision by the U.S. government to withdraw its military forces from the country (Burk 2009: 119). As a result of this decision, ISAF has continually replaced the U.S military troops particularly in Southern Afghanistan. This has in return perpetuated the outbreak of the deadliest violence that ever prevailed in this region since the fall of the Taliban regime. The NATO, under the leadership of Dutch, British as well as Canadian commanders, has however intervened and successfully managed to push the Taliban from certain parts of Zabul particularly Chora as well as Baluchi. The Italian and Spanish military troops have further joined forces with the NATO and their participation in these operations has led to the killing of about seventy members of the Taliban group. Additional NATO operations are prevalent in other parts of Afghanistan including Panjawaii, the Fury Mountain as well as the Falcon Summit. Although NATO has achieved significant victories in these operations, the Taliban have not been fully defeated. As such, they have continued engaging in constant counterattacks that include a bomb ambush against U.S. forces (George 2010: 622). Additionally, the Taliban have increasingly become stronger with statistical estimates showing that about 10,000 Taliban fighters could invade the country and undertake terror attacks at any given moment. Out of this number, only two to three thousand are full-time fighters while the rest are part-timers comprising of young Afghans that were primarily infuriated by constant bombing raids perpetuated by foreign military troops. Despite the major threats that military troops posed of Afghan civilians, their numbers in the country have greatly multiplied. This has in return triggered the Taliban’s engagement in further attacks as a way of demonstrating their strength. Through these attacks, the Taliban have managed to free all their prisoners serving in Kandahar jail. This has further deteriorated the state of security in Afghanistan particularly because the Taliban continue engaging in fresh ambushes against the military forces. Counterattacks between the Taliban and military troops have continued contributing to intense killing of Afghan civilians. The state of security in the country has further deteriorated as a result of multiple incidents of robbery, thefts and attacks on supply convoys in the neighboring countries particularly in Pakistan. With reports showing the Taliban had, by 2010, increased its membership of dedicated soldiers to about 25,000, it is obvious that the state of security in Afghanistan has continued to deteriorate as they maintain the required partnerships to sustain their existence in the country (Naomi 2012: 593). Although Afghanistan’s National Army has made every effort to improve national security, a report that was recently compiled by a U.S. senior military commandant concluded that the Taliban have successfully gained an upper hand. These conclusions were drawn from the fact that the Taliban have managed to spread to other parts of the country and they engage in more diverse activities that include disrupting presidential polls.
In conclusion, the 9/11 attacks comprise of major and deadly attacks that did not only impact the state of security, economic progress and social stability in United States but they as well impacted other nations that participated in promoting international security. The attacks were perpetuated by members of the Al-Qaeda Islamic group that had hi-jacked and crashed four airplanes against major towers in the U.S. While this undertaking led to deaths, injuries and loss of properties, it further triggered key decisions that would eventually transform the state of security, human rights and nation-building in Afghanistan. Evidence from the keen analysis of the events surrounding the 9/11 attacks indicate that the state of security in Afghanistan has greatly deteriorated particularly since the U.S. decided to fight back and eventually overthrow the Taliban regime. This is because the Taliban has opted to fight back, multiply their numbers as well as increase their power in effort to regain dominance in the country. As a result of this impact, cases of insecurity that are characterized by robbery, theft, attacks of military forces and the civilians as well as disruption of government activities have become rampant. The overthrow of the Taliban regime has however paved way for the improvement of human rights in Afghanistan. This is because the fall of this regime opened an opportunity for many women to access education, quality healthcare, employment opportunities and participation in government. The falloff the Taliban regime has further reformed Afghanistan’s approach to nation building. This is because the end of this regime has created an opportunity for the establishment of a new regime, perpetuated the promotion of national cohesion and allowed full participation of the Afghan forces in promoting national security. Afghanistan, through the support of the U.S government has also established systems, processes and institutions intended to enhance political stability, promote sovereignty and boost national unity even after foreign forces have left withdrawn their support.
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