DPPC Statement about the 20th Anniversary of 9/11 Attacks
Twenty years ago on this day, the United States was attacked by al-Qaeda terrorists whom the Taliban gave safe harbor to in Afghanistan. The attack had many profound changes on life in America and even more so in Afghanistan. For America, it meant serving justice to the perpetrators of the attack and their supporters. For Afghanistan, a failed state in 2001, the U.S. intervention meant helping the country to become a safe, free, and stabilized nation. Washington and its allies’ mission in Afghanistan witnessed significant progress on many fronts. An entire generation of Afghans experienced freedom, democracy, and prosperity for the first time. Afghans were able to vote, girls could go to school, and a vibrant civil society and independent media flourished. Afghanistan was improving in every single metric of human development: human rights, women’s rights, life expectancy, and literacy.
Although the US mission in Afghanistan brought many positive changes, the mission ended abruptly and in such a way that nearly all of the positive changes were rolled back overnight by the Taliban. America and its allies were right to go to Afghanistan in 2001. They were right to stay and pave the way for peace, freedom, and democracy in the country. They were equally right that they should at some point leave and let Afghans take their country’s future into their own hands. But the manner, timing, and method of the withdrawal were misguided, hasty, and poorly executed. As we commemorate 9/11 this year, many American veterans and their families, as well as Afghans, wonder what all the sacrifices in blood and treasure over the last two decades accomplished when the same Taliban is back in power and all the progress in the country is being reversed. What’s more, is that America is no longer safer or more secure from the threats of terrorism than it was in 2001. We should not and cannot simply afford to spurn the sacrifices of the U.S. troops by abandoning Afghanistan.
The post-2001 generation of Afghans, who comprise more than 65 percent of the population, have never lived or experienced the tyranny of the Taliban. The ongoing mass protests against Taliban rule by young Afghan women and men across the country is a symbol of the type of profound societal change that America and its allies helped to create in Afghanistan. The values of freedom, democracy, and human rights resonate with many Afghans. Indeed, I founded the DPPC in 2020 so that Americans could learn what their sacrifice, their blood, and treasure, had done for my people. Even after the 20-year American military presence has ended in Afghanistan, the U.S. and its partners can still help Afghans secure a better future.
First, the world’s democracies should not recognize the Taliban regime. All sanctions should be maintained and even expanded so that the regime is isolated politically. Second, those political and military figures who resist the Taliban, particularly the National Resistance Front (NRF) of Afghanistan led by Ahmad Massoud, should be supported. The NRF is leading a heroic fight against the Taliban in the Panjshir Province and other parts of northern Afghanistan. Third, there is a strong need for the creation of an autonomous zone or a safe zone in the north of Afghanistan. A place where all Afghans can live without fear of Taliban violence. If those who oppose Taliban rule have equal opportunities and are allowed to embrace values such as human rights, women’s rights, democracy, and free speech, they will not flee Afghanistan. This will not only help stem the tide of migration from the country but would also help monitor and check terrorism threats facing the west from Taliban-controlled areas.
Two decades after 9/11 and the end of America’s longest war, the U.S. must continue its commitment to prevent terrorist groups from operating freely in Afghanistan and empower Afghans to fight those terrorists while protecting their own people from tyrannical rule.
Martin Amin Rahmani