Writing for the Huffington Post, Michael Hughes reviews The Afghan Solution: The Inside Story of Abdul Haq, the CIA and How Western Hubris Lost Afghanistan by Lucy Morgan Edwards:
Although for one to suggest the U.S. had any alternatives to leveling Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11 is to invite ridicule, legendary Afghan resistance commander Abdul Haq had, in fact, an indigenous remedy for overthrowing the Taliban, rounding up al Qaeda and establishing a legitimate government in Kabul.
However, according to Lucy Morgan Edwards in her new book, The Afghan Solution: the Inside Story of Abdul Haq, the CIA and how Western Hubris Lost Afghanistan, the U.S. chose to force regime change from without while marginalizing Haq, who still valiantly tried to activate his plan on October 26, 2001 but was assassinated by the Taliban (although local sources claim his executioners were tipped off by certain foreign intelligence agencies). A decade later, it has become quite clear why Haq’s solution was — and still is — the only solution.
Edwards’ perspective is shaped by her experience living in Afghanistan for the better part of six years as an aid worker during the height of the Taliban regime, an election monitor, a political adviser to the EU Ambassador in Kabul and as a freelance journalist. Some of the most captivating scenes in her book come from the months she spent living in Eastern Afghanistan with Abdul Haq’s well-respected family — the Arsalas — a khan khel (chief clan) within the Ahmadzai tribe of the Ghilzai Pashtuns. There she receives a real world education on Afghanistan’s resilient tribal structure, which the Western alliance has tried to replace with “modern” governing models.
Edwards sets out to understand why the U.S. would abandon such a pro-Western leader like Haq — a brilliant military strategist whose heroics played a large part in defeating the Soviets in the 1980s. A moderate Muslim, Haq despised Islamic extremism and, above all, he was a nationalist whose popularity uniquely transcended the country’s ethnic, tribal and sectarian divisions.
Visit the Huffington Post to read the article in full.
Lucy will be taking part in a panel discussion at the School of Oriental and African Studies on Thursday 20th October on the topic of ‘Afghanistan 10 years on: What lessons can be learned?’ See here for more details.
The Inside Story of Abdul Haq, the CIA and How Western Hubris Lost Afghanistan
Lucy Morgan Edwards
“A deeply-reported, well-argued and deftly-written account of the opportunities not taken … based on the author’s own deep knowledge of Afghanistan.” – Peter Bergen, CNN Security Analyst and author of The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict Between America and Al-Qaeda
“A devastating indictment of the intelligence and strategic failures that have led us into the current tragedy in Afghanistan.” – William Pfaff