Debacle. Chaos. Absolute disaster. Tragedy. Words fail to describe the events that have unfolded in Afghanistan since, in the middle of summer, we were amazed to learn that the Taliban had taken Kabul in barely ten days.
As the deadline for evacuations draws to a close, and thanks to the courage of our forces on the ground, most of the people to be evacuated have been taken to safety, important issues will need to be addressed very soon to our American friends, in particular: how is it possible that after the billions of Euros invested, the deployment of so many of our soldiers and civilian personnel, that Afghanistan fell so quickly? How could an army of 300,000 men, financed by the world’s leading power, surrender without a fight? How is it that we were, at this point, taken aback?
In addition, we urgently need to reflect in depth on the consequences of the situation in Afghanistan for Europe and on the actions to be taken. This should be structured around three axes.
First of all, the Western debacle in Afghanistan brought to light the very great dependence of Europeans on the United States. The situation created by the withdrawal of American troops and the pushing back against the Europeans by their allies show clearly that Europe can no longer count on the United States to play the role of authority in the world. It is time for Europe to take its destiny into its own hands and safeguard its own security. This is why we urgently need to strengthen our common European defence.
Secondly, we can now expect a massive influx of migrants – 500,000 in 2021, according to the UN. If we Westerners have a moral duty to protect and grant asylum to Afghan nationals who have worked for us, one thing is also very clear: it’s not Europe’s role to take in all those who seek to flee the country’s Taliban regime. We must do everything to avoid a new wave of migration similar to the one we experienced in 2015. This will require working in close partnership with countries around Afghanistan so that solutions can be found for the refugees. It is essential that Member States agree on a common approach.
Finally, as the era of two decades of a democratic experience in Afghanistan unfortunately comes to an end, the responsibility of the international community is to try to maintain the major advances that the last twenty years have represented in the area of women’s rights and girls’ access to education in the country. We must do everything in our power and put pressure on the new regime to prevent Afghan women from returning to the dark age of the first Taliban rule.
My column in l’Opinion