For the American and Allied troops, withdrawal clearly should have occurred after al-Qaeda was removed as a credible force in Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden’s death in 2011. Afghanistan has a well-earned reputation as the ‘Graveyard of Empires’, with Persia, Britain and Russia suffering their most inglorious defeats against Pashtun Muslim fighters.

Although perennially perceived as weak, Afghanistan acts like a Venus fly trap once invaders enter.

The key strategy then of the US, whose foreign policy-cum-military power was suborned post-9/11 by the Neocons and AIPAC zionist lobby, was to terminate Taliban’s Islamic Emirate, which ruled Afghanistan since 1996.

Afghanistan war costs rocketed, costing America a massive $US2.26 trillion and 2300 soldiers killed. Australia lost 41 soldiers’ lives and 261 wounded.

Sally Neighbour’s report (The Australian, 11/9/2009), based on US Defense documents, shows the Taliban and Amir Mohammed Omar were not involved in the 9/11 attacks and were unaware of bin Laden’s planning. Omar offered to hand bin Laden over if the US could prove he was involved. The US ignored this offer.

Taliban never threatened Australia or another country. US-NATO then was unjustified invading, which killed 300,000 Afghans and extended war in Afghanistan 20-plus years.

Australian political leaders followed the Americans blindly, committing to regime change.

Foreign interventions cause insecurity in Afghanistan. Scott Morrison’s claim that forces in ‘Australia’s longest war’ were there to ‘safeguard Afghanistan’s security’ rings hollow.

As tribal Pashtuns in Oruzgan province where Australians operated would likely have been hostile to occupation forces, soldiers would have felt unwelcome.

This partly explains why certain SAS forces may have committed alleged atrocities against civilians, and why some retired troops experienced psychological traumas.

While Neocons’ objective was removing an Islamist government, calling it ‘terrorist’ rather than ‘defenders of Afghan sovereignty,’ their propaganda-sell to appeal to the Western public was that Allies keenly wanted ‘To establish democracy’ and ‘Provide freedoms’ for Afghan women.

The US initially discouraged formation of an inclusive Afghan government. The Taliban themselves were not ‘power-sharers’ and had rejected conciliatory offers from Masoud’s Northern Alliance.

After the US-NATO withdrawal, Afghanistan will comprise of two zones, with the Afghan government controlling larger cities but <40% of the countryside. The Afghan government will unlikely fall easily.

A long-continuing war of attrition however, would be devastating for Afghans who have suffered 40 years of bloodshed.

It’s surely time for leading Muslim countries,  eg Turkey, Indonesia, Pakistan, to help end this conflict.

The Western intervention has been a strategic failure. Afghans’ lives dramatically worsened.

How does Rodger Shanahan (The Australian, 16/4/2021) reconcile his improvements in social indicators “which have undoubtedly been achieved”, with the 2018 Gallup Poll  that found Afghans’ ratings of their lives now as well as predicted in five years’ time fell below record-lows ever of any country.

In 2019, Gallup Poll found “No Afghans thriving and 85% are suffering.”

My Islamic Well-Being Index rating 50 Muslim countries, found Afghanistan fell 30 places between 2012-2020.

The Taliban, benefitting from the withdrawal, should acknowledge that in maintaining certain aspects of Pashtunwali culture, they are deviating from true Islam.

Firstly, Islam promotes the equal value of women and men, and similarly encourages women to seek an education.

Secondly, the Almighty commands Muslims: “Believers are but brothers, so make peace between your brothers and fear Allah.” (Quran 49:10) So this entreats power-sharing between Muslim groups.

Thirdly, as opposed to deplorable Taliban killing of innocent civilians,Never should a believer kill a believer … If a man kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is Hell, to abide therein (forever).” (Quran 4:92-93)

Clearly, the Afghan people deserve better, particularly compassion and mercy, from Muslims claiming to represent an Islamic Emirate.