Africa and Kabul: When West Winds Blow


Twenty years after arriving Kabul on a military mission considered one of the most expensive ever in the world, the United States withdrew its troops from Afghanistan, amid chaos and questions.

After two decades of working to protect the country from the dreaded Taliban and their apparent overbearing stranglehold on citizens, the abrupt exit of the United States would always favour one party- the United States. 

Criticims greeted the decision of President Joe Biden to withdraw troops from the country. For some Americans, it’s considered a major victory, as they are able to save billions of dollars and families would never have to cry when their sons’ phones ring. The United States has nothing to lose and that’s always the risk of hobnobbing with the West. The recipient has to end up in tears.

As Afghanis and foreigners hustled and hassled to leave the country, with the Kabul Airport filled to capacity, an African seeing that would only think about the struggles with insecurity on the continent and the presence of the West. Security in Africa, unlike Afghanistan isn’t just a tale of socio-cultural failings, it’s warped in governmental cluelessness, colonial apprenticeship, and a malignant incompetence in leadership. Across the continent, in many countries struggling with terrorism, and other vices, there’s a dangerous presence of inadequacy and lack and the laziness of those in leadership positions to correct this conspicuous anomalies.

Francophone Africa, for many decades, has been known to be subservient to France, and run to Paris for help when the sharp claws of their failures begins to tear the continent apart. They hardly seek solutions through the roots but are content with seeing foreign missions domicile on African soil, waiting to pursue the next criminal. 

In Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado, where citizens continuously flee rising insurgency, and thousands have been killed, the failure of the government to protect its citizens is as glaring as its stoic support for the construction of a $60bn gas plant that will ‘turn the economy around’.

Except that the citizens won’t be a part of that turnaround.

Angry youths, and disgruntled locals are being recruited into terrorist organisations and when hell is let loose, their government is knocking on foreign doors again. Those knocks never come for free. They are in exchange for ceding an important part of their national sovereignty to these “saviour” countries, precisely Western powers, yet the recruits would never have been in their present predicaments if they had seen a future in normalcy.

“The West’s moral bankruptcy in Technicolor: Invade, mess up, escape, leave a human tragedy behind, wash hands!”

Greece’s former finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis

In Chad, the French-led Operation Barkha kicked off since 2013 and is helping the government fight against rebels. A 5,100-strong army of French soldiers stationed across the Sahel has its headquarters in the Chadian capital city, Ndjamena. After the death of Idriss Deby, there is still a sense of dominance of France over the region, comprising mainly of its former colonies, and even when they seem to withdraw a bit, African leaders ask for more, consequently drawing them close, again.. 

Niger President, Mohamed Bazoum recently said the Sahel is not supported enough against its adversaries. He wants the ‘international community’ to come to the rescue, but if there is any lesson learnt from the U.S.’s interference in Afghanistan, it is the reality of the actual victims of those problems. The West loses nothing. 

“We are not satisfied with the international community as a whole in its way of fighting terrorism in this area,” Bazoum told The Economist. “Against the same adversary, Daesh [Islamic State], in Iraq we saw a great international coalition. But today, we are not seeing the same mobilisation.”

French President, Emmanuel Macron recently announced the withdrawal of more than 2,000 troops from the Sahel, in what’s a clear similarity with the Afghani situation and his statement saw accusations of irresponsibility on African leaders. Like Biden in Afghanistan, Macron inherited a security structure by France in Africa, with previous Presidents known to solidify their African presence through the military. 

With an election coming and the opposition breathing down his neck, there’s the allure of standing for what’s truly French. They know their investments will remain untouched regardless and these leaders can hardly run a kilometre without pressing the French buttons. They can afford to go, and the problems don’t leave Africa. 

Many are still unemployed in countries stifled by corruption and insecurity waxes stronger in the face of these struggles. 

“We cannot go on stabilising zones that fall back into lawlessness because states decide not to take responsibility for them. That’s impossible, or else it is an endless task,” Macron said about the withdrawal of troops. 

Africa has lessons to take from Kabul, and they can’t be better taught than with the gory sights of helpless, desperate and displaced citizens who have everything to lose. 



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