In the heart of the Afghan capital, Kabul, 15 years ago, a market was established called "Bush Buzz" after the name of former US President George W. Bush, who ordered the invasion of Afghanistan after the attacks of September 11, 2001.
About two months after the US withdrawal in August of last year, the Taliban movement, which tightened its control over the country, changed the name of the market and called it "Mujahideen Bazaar".
The fate of the American "Bush's Bazaar" was not different from the fate of a previous bazaar that was called "Brezhnev Bazaar" after the name of the Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, who ordered the invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979 when Kabul was the scene of a series of coups and counter-coups that opened the door to the Soviet invasion .
The "Brezhnev Bazaar" closed shortly after the departure of the Soviets, who had stayed in Afghanistan for half the time the Americans had been there.
The goods sold in "Bush's Bazaar" were smuggled from American bases in Afghanistan, including military equipment such as night vision goggles, as well as American and Afghan military uniforms that were exploited by the fighters against the American presence at the time.
In addition to this equipment, the foods and drinks sold in the "Bush Bazaar" were foreign to Afghan society such as beer and energy drinks, and in many cases the packages of food sold were expired, discarded or delivered by foreign forces.
Among those foods that were offered in the "Bush Bazaar" are ready-made meals that were intended for the American military rations, which those who came to buy from some Kabul residents did not realize that they contained pork, as they did not know English to distinguish what they contained in addition to the expiration date.
It was not much different from the goods of the "Brezhnev Bazaar" in the center of Kabul, which was booming in the eighties of the last century, where Soviet soldiers sold local merchants everything from uniforms to spare parts for trucks, along with other Soviet products such as caviar and vodka (a type of liquor), which is like its American suffix. alien to Afghan society.
The bazaar is one and the place is one, but the name has changed, as well as the goods displayed in the “bazaar” with its Soviet editions that lasted about 10 years, then the American, which lasted 20 years, and finally the “Taliban” open, on a vast Afghan space full of goods and products that are bought and sold, but with files Many of their titles include political, security, economic, social and neighborhood relations.
What do the most prominent features of Afghanistan look like now, a year after the Americans left and the Taliban returned?
What are the nature of the priorities at this critical stage of transitioning from chaos in the hope of achieving stability, amid horrific challenges in the humanitarian and economic fields?
name and logo
In the first half of the first year of Taliban rule in its new edition after the American withdrawal a year ago, the movement's government changed the name of the country from the Republic of Afghanistan to the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
Just as the movement changed the name of the state, it also changed its flag, which consists of the three colors (black, red and green) and replaced it with a white flag with the phrase “There is no god but God, Muhammad is the Messenger of God” and it held a mass party in Kabul on this occasion in early April.
The Taliban government moved away from all previous historical Afghan forms of government, whether monarchy, republic or communism, and focused on establishing a simplified form of law and order, based on its understanding of the application of Islamic law in the "Islamic Emirate".
With the change of name and banner, the Taliban appeared more pragmatic, and less radical, than it was in its first edition that was toppled by the American invasion of Afghanistan more than two decades ago, as the movement pledged to adhere to human rights, form an inclusive government, offer amnesty to former government employees and not allow the country to operate as a haven Safe for terrorists.
An observer of the security situation in Afghanistan - during the first year of Taliban rule - notes a decline in violence compared to previous years, and the security situation remained stable and on more than one occasion the Taliban government confirmed devoting its efforts to establish security in the shreds of the state.
It is witnessed in this file by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, which previously stated in a report that security has improved, and that the Taliban have taken steps "aimed at protecting and promoting human rights."
It is also witnessed by her opponent, Hamid Karzai, the first president of Afghanistan after the US invasion, who said in an interview with the Indian newspaper "India Today" two days ago that the Afghan people are happy that last year's war did not break out, and that more Afghans did not lose their lives on both sides of the conflict. Except in this case, everything was negative."
Observers attribute the relative security stability to the prestige imposed by the Taliban, which began its second term from a position of exceptional symbolic power, as its own courts adjudicated local disputes, and prompt justice was effective compared to the sterile Afghan law system, and the devastating effects of the Western-led military campaign.
Despite this, the first year of Taliban rule was not without some violence and assassinations that claimed the lives of religious scholars, as it witnessed the bombing of a Sikh temple in Kabul, a crowded market in Nangarhar, and a mosque in Kunduz province.
The majority of Afghan people are devoured by poverty (European - Archive)
This year, Afghanistan witnessed the worst drought in nearly 30 years, affecting 3 quarters of its provinces, affecting crop production, adding to the economic suffering of the country and making it on the verge of collapse.
Ramiz Alakbarov, Deputy Special Representative, Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan states that the country's economy has shrunk by 30-40% since August 2021, and output and income have declined by 20-30%.
Some estimates, according to Alakbarov, indicate that poverty rates may rise to 97% by the end of 2022. The most worrying thing in his opinion is that 82% of families are burdened with debt.
He expected that the people would face recurrent humanitarian crises that are likely to stimulate mass migration and create suitable conditions for extremism and renewed armed conflict, noting that the current economic crisis is "the single most important issue as a potential driver of conflict as well as an engine of misery."
A day after the devastating earthquake that struck the provinces of Paktika and Khost on August 9, killing nearly 800 people, Russia's delegate to the United Nations called for "the need to find realistic paths to unfreeze legitimate financial assets and banking services for Afghanistan."
The Russian delegate urged the Security Council to ensure that the current sanctions do not impede the provision of humanitarian assistance or economic resources to Afghanistan, and called on the United States and NATO to take responsibility for the results of its 20-year presence in Afghanistan instead of imposing sanctions on it.
This economic crisis may also push for the return of opium cultivation in Afghanistan, despite the Taliban government's decision to ban its cultivation. Some cases have spotted citizens who have returned to cultivation of that pest, having to feed their families amid the worsening crisis and the lack of an alternative.
In one aspect, the economic crisis is related to the crisis of legitimacy and recognition of the Taliban government, which was not recognized by any of the countries of the world, unlike what was the case in its first edition when it appeared more than a quarter of a century ago and at that time gained the recognition of 3 countries, namely Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
The Taliban’s foreign relations are limited and confined to a small network, and in the midst of this isolation from the world rises Western criticism of the Taliban’s position on women, preventing them from traveling without a mahram and imposing a face covering on them, as well as their position on girls’ education, closing their secondary schools, laying off female employees, abolishing the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and replacing it with a Ministry Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.
Criticisms of the Taliban also include ethnic Pashtuns monopolizing government and leadership positions, and ignoring other ethnicities such as Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras with Afghan aspirations.
In fact, part of the responsibility for the criticism directed at the Taliban in the previous files does not fall on the movement alone, but also goes back to the nature of Afghan society, which remains mostly tribal and conservative, and the habits of urban residents, especially in the capital, differ from those in remote areas, with regard to women, in appearance, education and work .
As for the participation of other ethnicities in power, and ensuring that the Pashtuns are not monopolized, it is a historical Afghan dilemma that requires political maturity that was not achieved during the period of the American presence in the country, or even before it.
The dilemma for the United States and its Western allies, and even Afghanistan's neighbors, and the Afghans themselves, remains that the collapse of the Taliban government and the failure of the state heralds a new civil war, and the accompanying catastrophic humanitarian disasters of killing, famine, displacement and asylum to neighboring countries, where the Afghan refugee crisis has not yet ended in the stages of conflict dysfunctional afghani.
The other side of the Afghan dilemma is that countries that refuse to recognize the Taliban government believe that establishing diplomatic relations and economic ties with it means greater consolidation of the Taliban’s rule and frustration of its opponents, so they are satisfied with limited humanitarian aid to the Afghan people, which has become limited and incomparable to what it was before.
It may seem that the international community is preoccupied with Afghanistan, and despite the lack of recognition of the Taliban government, countries such as China and India are weaving economic relations with it in various fields. Does the international community pay attention and engage with the Taliban government in practice to contribute to the reconstruction and the consolidation of national reconciliation?
Afghanistan has a long way to go to achieve peace, development and unity.