Expert: Afghanistan Will Resume Being Terrorist Haven When US Troops Depart
(CNSNews.com) – Afghanistan will once again become a safe haven for international terrorists after U.S. troops depart later this year, leaving “nothing of lasting value” after 12 years of fighting, predicts Nasir Shansab, a former Afghani industrialist and advisor to the Reagan administration.
When CNSNews. com asked Shansab what he thinks will happen when U.S. troops are withdrawn, he replied:
“I see two possibilities. One is that the country will slide back into civil war, in a very savage and violent civil war, everybody against everybody. Or that the Taliban will actually fairly rapidly take over most of the country,”he added, agreeing with reports that the National Intelligence Estimate expects Afghanistan to descend into chaos after U.S. troops are withdrawn.
“If Afghanistan is back to chaos, which it probably will be, then the possibility is strong in my view that international terrorists and terrorism will go back to Afghanistan and find a country that they can operate from safety,” he noted.
This will leave the U.S. “absolutely [at] square one” – facing the same predicament it had in 2001 when it invaded Afghanistan to prevent al Qaeda from using the war-torn country as a base for its terror operations.
The Taliban is mainly composed of “brainwashed young people” from refugee camps in Pakistan who were raised in dire poverty and attended Saudi-run madrassas where they were taught Islamic fundamentalism, Shansab explained. But he said the people running the Afghani government are also “the product of chaos. They got rich and came to power in chaos. They like it. The rule of law is bad for them.”
The Taliban already controls “60 to 80 percent of the country," he pointed out, and will likely consolidate its power in the southern provinces where ethnic Pashtuns are in the majority. Although the Hindu Kush mountain range will act as a natural barrier to their attempts to subdue the northern provinces, years of internal warfare will likely result in “a de facto partition.”
Shansab, an author and businessman who fled to the U.S. from Afghanistan in 1975 after his father’s industrial holdings were nationalized and he himself was threatened with execution, said he talked to a number of Afghanis during a month-long trip to Kabul last October and noticed a distinct difference in their outlook since his last trip a year ago when most believed the U.S. would remain in the country indefinitely.
“This time, everyone was very afraid,” Shansab told CNSNews.com. “People were quite afraid of the future.”
Central government officials and the Afghani elite have already prepared their exit strategies and are sending money overseas, he says. “Billions of dollars have left Afghanistan, almost the exact amount of money the international community sent for development has left Afghanistan for Dubai and other cities.”
And because billions of dollars of aid from the West has been siphoned off by corrupt officials, the Afghan people are no better off now than they were when the Soviets left, he says.
“What happened in the last 12 years, with all the money that the U.S. and the international community flooded the country with, we produced a few billionaires and a number of millionaires, but for 80 percent of the people, nothing will change. And that’s the tragedy.”
Shansab said he did a study back in 1979 advising the U.S. government to help Afghanistan economically after the Soviets’ departure. “Of course, everybody thought I was crazy, and maybe I was. But I am fairly certain that had we done so, al Qaeda would not have come to Afghanistan, and Afghanistan would not have been a part of what happened.”
He offered advice to the Obama administration about what to do to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a haven for terrorists once again. “I would advise Secretary [of State John] Kerry not to leave Afghanistan, to be patient, but to do the right thing,” he added, including bringing in a new government to clean up the rampant corruption. He called Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his family “among the most corrupt” because they allow it to flourish without consequence.
“But I don’t see in Washington today the strength of character, the strength of determination to do what needs to be done,” he noted.
Shansab, author of Silent Trees, a political novel set in Afghanistan, said he once met Osama bin Laden during the American-backed resistance against the Soviet occupation. “I went to Pakistan to see if I could help with the resistance,” he said, and mutual acquaintances suggested the two men meet.
“We met at the Intercontinental Hotel in Peshawar for breakfast… He was a very tall man, very impressive looking. I felt quite small beside him...
"When we were having breakfast, Afghan resistance fighters would come up and ask for money, and he would sort of throw dollars at them. He was quite arrogant, not attempting to determine if they were really resistance fighters or just fakes who would take the money for themselves. It was fairly chaotic…
“What I also disliked very much is that he very aggressively mistreated the Pakistani waiters who were waiting on us, so I got up after we finished our breakfast without asking him what he wanted from me.
“At that time the Americans liked him because he was …bringing young men from Arab countries to fight against the Soviet Union.
“He didn’t say anything that touched on religion and God and I had no idea of what he would become later on. …I only realized who he was when he was in Sudan, when the Clinton administration pressured the government of Sudan to throw him out of the county…
“Bin Laden chartered a plane with about 80 or 90 of his friends, mostly Arabs from Egypt, Yemen, all over the place, and he flew to Afghanistan, landed in Jalalabad and because he had been helping the resistance, they received him as a friend. If my information is correct, everyone he brought along immediately got Afghani passports… The Afghans overdid it in being friendly to him.
“But nobody wants to talk about it now because a lot of those people who did that are in power in Afghanistan today.”