In this July 2, 2009 photo, US Marines from the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade wait for helicopter transport as part of Operation Khanjar at Camp Dwyer in Helmand province in Afghanistan. (MANPREET ROMANA / AFP)
Reflection on Afghan actions needed as 21st anniversary marked, experts say
The United States should review and reflect on its invasion of Afghanistan on controversial 9/11 grounds as the 21st anniversary of the incident is marked, analysts say.
Amina Khan, director of the Centre for Afghanistan, Middle East and Africa at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad, said as Sunday marks the 21st anniversary of the incident of 9/11, "we have more questions than answers" throughout these two decades, particularly on the policies that were enforced after the events.
Amina Khan, director of the Centre for Afghanistan, Middle East and Africa at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad, said as Sunday marks the 21st anniversary of the incident of 9/11, "we have more questions than answers" throughout these two decades, particularly on the policies that were enforced after the events
"It is a time for introspection by the international community and more so by America as well as a time for going to retrospect regarding certain policies that were taken, particularly in terms of Afghanistan," she added.
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Taliban authorities have always denied accusations of the US' official account of Sept 11, 2001. Abdul Qahar Balkhi, a spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, recently stressed that the allegation of a Taliban-backed terrorist attack on the US circulated all these years was "very, very wrong".
"There is nothing of terrorism tied to this government or the Afghan people," he was quoted in a recent interview by CGTN. "To label an entire people as terrorists is one of the biggest injustices in the history of mankind."
Although different hosts of the White House have kept their stance over the decades, a number of US scientists, engineers and analyst have challenged the authenticity of the American official account of 9/11.
Among them, David Ray Griffin and Elizabeth Woodworth, co-founder of Consensus 9/11, led a panel of more than a dozen experts from multiple countries in examining evidences available for the tragedy.
“The most fateful example of fake news in the twenty-first century thus far has been the official account of 9/11,” they claimed in their book titled “9/11 UNMASKED, An international review panel investigation”.
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After looking into the matter, they found at least nine fundamental claims in the US official account lack evidence. For instance, “the Twin Towers could not have been brought down by the airplane impacts and the resulting fires”, “WTC 7 could not have been brought down by office fires caused by inflammatory material from one of the Twin Towers”, and the alleged hijacker Hani Hanjour did not possess the ability to strike the Pentagon with the said plane.
Khan said poor intelligence and lack of knowledge played a major role in US' "propaganda and fake news used by elements within Washington to justify their actions after 9/11".
"This in fact gave Washington a blank check to do whatever it wanted under the premise of protecting itself from terrorism … picking anyone up, torturing them and keeping them at Guantanamo for years and years without any evidence," she said.
What is proven is that the 9/11 event was used as a pretext for the US-led NATO to enter Middle East and Afghanistan because it was viable to their domestic audience, and that the ensuing wars resulted in heavy tolls of human lives.
"When it comes to Afghanistan, it was very questionable because the Taliban who were in power were not in fact a part of the group that supposedly attacked America at 9/11," Khan said. "So the pretext was not there, but unfortunately they created such a good pretext because they used terrorism to their advantage."
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Imtiaz Gul, executive director of the Center for Research and Security Studies in Pakistan, said apart from geopolitical control, one of the US' objectives was probably to lock cheap oil deals as war reparations.
"Very clearly, regardless of who planned all these attacks, the 9/11 terrorist attacks did provide (George W.) Bush and Dick Cheney with an opportunity to launch offensives in Afghanistan, and from there move to Iraq and then Libya, where the United States locked cheap oil deals for the next two decades," he said.
"So this is what they've got, and this is what they are benefiting from at the moment, while as long as they can import they're largely not touching their own oil and gas reserves. So why not?"
Time for retrospection
Khan also said the events following the Sept 11 attack just showed that "it's a time for retrospection and revisit policies that are fundamentally flawed in every sense", and learn from the fact that "military operations are never the solution".
She drew attention to the fact that terrorism has not been wiped out from the international community. Initially, terrorist groups were limited to a particular region or geography. But now after two decades, there are more terrorist groups that have transnational networks and are cooperating with one another.
"The world has certainly not become safer, and if anything I think it's become more complex," she said.
Tom Plate, a professor and distinguished scholar of Asian and Pacific studies at Loyola Marymount University, said he regarded some reports hypothetical but all wise countries will avoid the military option for perceived problems that are primarily political ones.
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The withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan "after 20 dreary years of tragic fighting did not come a day too soon, but the rush to the exit runway was unseemly and undignified and only underlined the US failure", he added.