In an op-ed in Herald of 1 June 2011, following the US killing of Osama bin Laden a month earlier, I warned, “Australia can not anticipate its human sacrifices and materials funding to make a lot of a distinction” in Afghanistan, intimating that hopefully we might not see the day when Australian leaders seemed again and puzzled “what was that every one about?”
That day has arrived with President Joe Biden’s announcement to finish America’s two-decade lengthy navy intervention in Afghanistan by the twentieth anniversary of 9/11, and Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s resolution to observe go well with.
Australia has been a participant within the Afghan enterprise from its beginnings. Along with offering reconstruction help, it has performed an energetic function within the US-led navy intervention to deliver, as put by former President George W. Bush in late 2001, peace, stability, prosperity and safety to the nation.
The province of Oruzgan – a comparatively small space within the Taliban-led insurgency hotbed in southern Afghanistan – got here to be the primary focus of the Australian navy and civilian operations, particularly between 2010 and 2014.
The Diggers carried out properly in stabilising and rebuilding the province. They gained a popularity for enhancing the residing situations for a lot of within the province, regardless of latest revelations of alleged battle crimes by a few of them.
But it has come at a value, with 41 Australian troopers killed, 261 wounded, a few of them crippled for all times, and hundreds extra sustaining post-traumatic stress dysfunction, main a number of of their returnees to commit suicide. The fight mission has consumed some 80 per cent of Australia’s estimated $10 billion expenditure in Afghanistan.
President Barack Obama’s resolution in late 2009 to strengthen the Afghan safety forces to struggle the insurgents and to deliver residence a lot of the American troops by the shut of 2014, enabled Australia to do the identical by ending its deployment in Oruzgan. It handed over the safety of the province to a infamous anti-Taliban warlord ally, Mutiullah Khan – an illiterate, polarising determine, accused of extortion, brutality and freeway theft. Australia funded him and skilled his fighters, together with some in Australia.
Nevertheless, the Taliban’s assassination of Mutiullah Khan in March 2015 left an enormous gap in Australia’s strategy and opened Oruzgan to the Taliban. As we speak a lot of the province is within the fingers of the militia and all Australia’s good work lies in tatters.
Afghanistan’s safety state of affairs as an entire has deteriorated since then, extra dramatically previously yr because the US signed a peace settlement with its erstwhile terrorist enemy, the Taliban, in February 2020.