THE AFGHAN TORMENT ON AMERICANS CLINCH
Operation Enduring Freedom ended on 28 December, 2014, marking the complete annihilation of Al-Qaeda infrastructure, manpower and any organized presence inside Afghanistan. U.S. had shown the world that it has the power and capacity to mercilessly strike its enemies anywhere and deliver its judgment on them. What followed it had Americans divided. U.S. now wanted to champion Nation-Building.
Afghanistan has never been a peaceful country. Throughout its history, it has been fighting against any outside intervention, and if not that, they had different warring factions fighting between themselves. Afghanistan was also the battlefield between Soviet Union and U.S. allies during the cold war, which eventually led to the fall of Soviet Union.
Afghanistan has truly earned the title, “Graveyard of Empires”.
Militarily, U.S. and NATO forces operating inside Afghanistan have been fairly successful. Afghan Taliban, which provided refuge to Al-Qaeda, were thrown out from their rule; the country bombed wherever running miscreants tried to hide. Afghanistan shares border with Iran, Pakistan, China and former Soviet States. Thus, from a geo-strategic point of view, it is located at a very important land. Military operations have helped NATO gain invaluable experiences both in tactical and in strategic battles. Even though, the military presence came at the cost of thousands of casualties and hundreds of billions of dollars, it helped the global peace and promoted counter-terrorism in the entire region.
Today, Intra-Afghan peace process is ongoing albeit with occasional hiatuses, where both the Afghan government and Afghan Taliban are talking to each other and planning out the future of their country. For U.S., Afghan Taliban was never the primary enemy, but it was their support of Al-Qaeda which led America to target them. Under the previous U.S. administration led by Former President Donald Trump, U.S. secured a deal with Afghan Taliban, under which the Taliban guaranteed that no territory of Afghanistan will be used or any support provided by them against United States or its allies.
Despite all of this, Afghanistan faces an unprecedented surge in violence, while ANSF in spite of years of assistance and training by NATO, and find themselves difficult to defend off attacks. Moreover, ISIS has gained strength in several regions in the country, with many of its members consisting of battle-hardened former TTP fighters (Pakistani Taliban). Ironically, Afghan Taliban have fought off ISIS presence and helped in diminishing their fighting capacity. Afghan Government has also been cooperating with Afghan Taliban in providing education in areas under Taliban control.
After a long deliberate review of the U.S.- Taliban peace deal under the new administration led by Biden, it has been announced that the officially 2500 force left inside Afghanistan will abandon their positions to return back to U.S. homeland. U.S. along with other international donors will nevertheless, have to continue to finance the fragile economy of Afghanistan and pump billions of dollars annually. However, the retraction helps to keep NATO troops out of harm’s way.
For the purpose of counter-terrorism and to keep a check on whether Afghan Taliban honor their part of commitments, a proposal where Uncle Sam keep a small, special forces contingent nearby is lucrative; and for it, U.S. will have to shake hands with the devil, Pakistan. U.S. and Pakistan has had a very turbulent relationship but, both have needed one another to safeguard their interests respectively. U.S. can release withheld helicopters, and security assistance to Pakistan and maneuver a deal involving establishing a base near its Afghanistan border. The base can also be utilized to monitor Pakistan nuclear program and in case of any emergency, direct the troops to secure Pakistani nukes, as many U.S. officials somewhat believed or continue to do so.
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army)
The Afghanistan Papers highlighted by Washington Post on 9th Dec, 2019, summed up the situation regarding Afghanistan pretty well. American public were fed lies and misled to believe the occupation of Afghanistan is helping the U.S. The truth is, Afghanistan will continue to be in turmoil in the near future and only the Afghans themselves can carve out a future for their country. As far as U.S is concerned, it’s time to bring soldiers back home and focus inwards; and that is exactly the POTUS is Knuckling down, more so in the light of evolving Russian and Chinese threats.