In his speech at the UN General Assembly, last Tuesday (21), President Jair Bolsonaro (no party) announced that Brazil could grant humanitarian visas to Afghans fleeing the Taliban. But it imposed a condition: Christians only. Reginaldo Nasser, professor of International Relations at PUC-SP, criticized the declaration, with harsh words and without outspoken.
“Is it Islamophobia with the poor, does Bolsonaro have Islamophobia with the Persian Gulf sheiks? No, it doesn’t. Islamophobia with fucked Islamists have, but with Islamists who have power? Nobody moves. Brazil’s Islamic elite supported Bolsonaro. Everything had betrayed. Islamophobia of the poor, refugee and fucked up. People with money don’t suffer from Islamophobia,” Nasser said.
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In an interview with Brazil in fact, the professor lamented that the attempt to flee by Afghans at the airport in Kabul has been little and poorly addressed and analyzed by the western media, which would have bought a narrative sold by the US press.
“You see, there was a huge exaggeration in this whole story. Obviously it was a tragedy in Kabul. But that is an event, within a larger context… What happened at the airport in Kabul was the withdrawal of Afghans who were trying to flee the Taliban, that’s what happened. The Americans had already left and no reports of death, neither civilian nor military. The Bagram base, an air base in Afghanistan, was empty for some time, it was abandoned”, he argues.
Reginaldo Nasser launched the book “The fight against terrorism: The USA and Taliban friends”, by Contra Editora. About the publication, the professor explains, he makes a “rescue and an analysis of the historical process of Afghanistan. In order not to be just descriptive, I hierarchized some themes and there is my interpretation. The book starts pre-September 11, 2001 and runs through the end of Donald Trump’s administration.”
Check out the full interview.
Brasil de Fato: Did the Taliban, at some point, replace the state in Afghanistan?
Reginaldo Nasser: First of all, we have to understand the economic and social organization of Afghanistan, this is the starting point. In Afghanistan, 75% of the population is rural, and organized into tribes. This means that authority and power are very fragmented. The closest image we have of this type of organization is from the feudal period in Europe. So this tribal leader has control of everything from the economy to the weapons, these leaders have a private army.
Upon further investigation, I came to the conclusion that, in Afghanistan, any power that wants to be centralized and unified is not viable. There is no such thing, if the Taliban decide to do this, it will fall. As the Taliban know the region well, they know they will have to make a deal with these tribal leaders. The Taliban, by the way, never dominated all these territories, they always made good deals with tribal leaders. When the US invaded in 2001, some of these tribal leaders were against the Taliban.
::Understand the recent history of Afghanistan and see what women in the country say about the Taliban ::
So, what you asked here is half true, it has become a repeated jargon in the world. I give the example of drugs. When the Taliban was in government, they repressed poppy plantations. During the war, to make an international image, to show how the US was repressing the population, the Taliban released the planting. In the books I read and in the accounts, I didn’t find anything very close to saying that the Taliban replaces the state. I wouldn’t rate it there, but anyway, it’s important to say that the Taliban is part of Afghan society.
How did you see the American exit from Afghanistan?
I have yet to fully understand what happened. But you see, there was a huge exaggeration in this whole story. Obviously it was a tragedy in Kabul. But that is an event, within a larger context. The Trump people, who started the negotiations, sat down in Doha and made a deal, opportunistically began attacking Biden. A part of the Democratic Party, too.
So, the American press criticized the withdrawal of troops and here, in Brazil, the press just repeated the criticisms, and the right and the left were also there. When the year 2021 begins, the US had, in Afghanistan, a maximum of 3,500 men. Look, 3,500 men hold the Taliban? Of course not. Biden (since the beginning of the year) starts cutting resources and leaving, and the Taliban advancing.
In the book, I talk about the US withdrawal, and I delivered the book in early August. What happened at the airport in Kabul is different, it was the withdrawal of Afghans who were trying to flee the Taliban, that’s what happened. The Americans had already left and no reports of death, neither civilian nor military. The Bagram base, an air base in Afghanistan, was empty for a while, it was abandoned.
All these wars, in Afghanistan and Iraq, were quite outsourced, they reached 100,000 contractors, who are not marines, are civilians or military
At the beginning of the year, they had 17,000 contractors in Afghanistan, and by April it had dropped to 4,000 or 5,000. This reduction was qualitative, because it was the personnel who took care of the Air Force, which allowed the Taliban to advance in the cities, because the rural environment was already completely taken over.
The question was whether there would be a battle when the Taliban arrived in the cities, nothing happened. It was all predicted, the speed that accelerated, but it was predicted. It was too much. They looked at Kabul as if it were Afghanistan. The Western press took this as a model, understanding what happens in Kabul as if it were all of Afghanistan.
Now, under the tutelage of the Taliban, what should Afghanistan’s relationship with its neighbors be?
Afghanistan is not connected to the Middle East. The Taliban has never spoken out about Palestine, so with Israel there is nothing. The Taliban never attacked anyone across the border. Unlike Al Qaeda, the Taliban never bothered outside Afghanistan. Who put Afghanistan on the scene was Al Qaeda and Jihad back there, because the Soviet Union was there. But there is no connection with Iraq, for example, or any other country in the Middle East.
Who wants to make the connection is the Islamic State, an arm in Iran and Syria, in fact, that wants to make the connection and even accuses the Taliban of betraying Muslims. Doctrinally, I would say the Islamic State has more coherence, because their idea is that the Islamic community is above the nations. So, it doesn’t matter to have power in Afghanistan, because the Islamic State does not recognize the existence of nations. Who wants to take and connect the Middle East is the Islamic State.
::Islamic State is responsible for attack in Kabul, say US::
Faced with the terrible repercussions of the American invasion on Afghan soil, do you think they will be able to justify new war attacks in other countries?
Post-World War II brought about the fact that the possibility of any great power going to war with another great power is almost impossible. They will be fighting, but the possibility of a war is minimal. Now, the ability of the US to do this is immense.
The US was not defeated in this episode of Afghanistan. Only 2,500 thousand Americans died in 20 years, that’s not much
How many people die in Brazil per year? What has American society done? March? Nothing. When it comes to Vietnam, there was no military defeat either. The US could win. But inside the US, they asked to go home, 54,000 Americans died, it reached the middle class. While black and Indian was dying, they didn’t care.
The issue now is that President Joe Biden and the Democrats are acting inside the US, it’s a fucked up battle to tax big corporations. Look, Iraq is broken, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, too. Is this bad for the US? Someone said the US wants allies. Yes, it’s ideal. But if they have allies, they don’t have enemies. Who is Iraq today? Nobody. It was the most powerful state in the region. Who has power in the region? Iran.
The US will not go to war with Iran. But the US will take small actions elsewhere in the world. There is speculation, no longer, that they are going to Africa, with the justification of searching for oil. But I think the Middle East will never go off the radar, even because of Israel. They go somewhere, it’s a machine, do you think they’re going to turn off the machine?
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Bolsonaro said he can offer humanitarian visas to Afghans fleeing the Taliban. But only to Christians. Is it Islamophobia?
Without a doubt, this is to please the evangelical sector and continue with its far-right motto. Islamophobia in quotes, my Marxist streak won’t let me. Is it Islamophobia with the poor, does Bolsonaro have Islamophobia with the Persian Gulf sheiks? No, it doesn’t. Islamophobia with poor Islamists has it, but with Islamists who have power, no one messes with them. Brazil’s Islamic elite supported Bolsonaro. Islamophobia of the poor, refugee and fucked up, those who have money do not suffer from Islamophobia.
Edition: Vinícius Segalla