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What’s the real military situation in Afghanistan today ?

Discussion in 'Afghanistan Defence Forum' started by nangyale, Apr 30, 2015.

  1. nangyale

    nangyale FULL MEMBER

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    What’s the real military situation in Afghanistan today ?
    Author: AT Editor April 28, 2015

    By Salman Rafi Sheikh

    On March 19, 2015 New York Times reported that the Afghan peace process was still a long-cherished dream since the Taliban are unable to resolve their “internal differences” over the question of holding a dialogue with the U.S. and its allies. It further reported that since peace couldn’t be expected to take shape under such a scenario, the Afghan government, as well as U.S. officials, were mulling the possibility of yet another year of “bloody fighting with the insurgents.” Reflecting this situation, the Times report had an ‘apt’ title: More U.S. Troops Seen Staying in Afghanistan

    The scenario depicted by the U.S. newspaper callously allows for an extension of America’s longest war, into not just one more year of “bloody fighting,” but many more years of bloodshed. The reported rifts within the Taliban on the dialogue issue also gives a misleading impression that this is the only possible and the real reason for the prevailing crisis in Afghanistan. Not only does it not take into account the very counter-productive effects of the presence of foreign troops on Afghan soil, it also takes the Taliban’s so-called “internal differences” too literally. It obscures the latent aspects of the current phase of the war and its significance relative to geopolitical changes taking place around Afghanistan. The current phase of the Afghan war is not important merely due to Afghanistan itself; it is much more connected than ever to the U.S. policies towards the Middle East, the Caucasus and Central Asia.

    Given the geo-strategic environment prevailing in the Middle Eastern region (the rise of the ISIL) and the catastrophe that U.S. post-war plans faced in Iraq, it seems the U.S. would take pains not to repeat that story in Afghanistan — a country that Washington still covets to undercut Russian and Chinese influence in Central and South Asian regions. Notwithstanding that the Afghan Taliban are still holding areas under their control and are constantly attacking, there are other factors supporting the notion of a longer stay for U.S. troops in Afghanistan. One is Afghanistan’s increased importance, during last year or so, as a base for military action (and support to “allied” states in Central Asia and Caucasus) due to the situation in Ukraine. In this respect, Afghanistan provides the nearest and the most suitable place for such operations. It’s apparent that military action requires not only territory — it also requires troops on the ground.

    As the Times noted in the same report, U.S. officials were already close to concluding that the current U.S. contingent of 10,000 troops and thousands of civilian contractors would be needed in Afghanistan till at least the end of 2016. Not only this, the Bi-Lateral Security Agreement (BSA) signed between the USA and Afghanistan in 2014 also offers the option of increasing the number of troops in Afghanistan as and when needed. Therefore, it’s entirely possible that the U.S. would choose to increase the number of its troops on the Afghan soil to buttress its position vis-à-vis Russia in Ukraine.

    Apart from deteriorating security situation to the south and west of Afghanistan, the security and political situation inside Afghanistan itself doesn’t lend itself to a change in the current U.S. position. The Afghan Taliban are not only in control of crucial areas such as Qandahar, they are also becoming more and more potent in conducting attacks on U.S.-trained Afghan forces. In the second week of April, for instance, the Taliban killed, wounded or kidnapped at least 33 soldiers of the Afghan National Army (ANA) in Jurm district of north-eastern Badakhshan province. The northern province of Badakhshan, it should be kept in mind, has been a relatively peaceful area vs. other unstable and war-torn areas of the country. The incident not only indicates the strength of the Taliban. It also reflects their territorial reach. This shatters the myth of peace and stability in Afghanistan. A look at Taliban attacks over the last eight months or so would show that they’ve found success beyond their traditional strongholds in the rural south and are now dominating territory near crucial highways and cities that surround Kabul, the capital, as well as other crucial provinces like Kapisa and Nangarhar.

    This and many other such incidents are also indicative of the virtual failure of the U.S. counter-insurgency strategy which required a strong Afghan Army, capable of replacing the U.S./NATO force in post-2014 Afghanistan. To reach this goal, Washington had poured at least $65 billion into building up, training and equipping Afghan National Security Forces so they could hold their own against the insurgents once the U.S. soldiers and their allies departed. However, more than a decade later, that plan, along with the Afghan National Security Forces, seems to be slowly falling apart. With this is the collapse of U.S. hopes for an Afghanistan that could act as a useful base for the former’s larger geo-strategic operations. It’s for this reason that the U.S., too, has come to realize the impossibility of establishing peace in Afghanistan without involving the Taliban in it — hence, the US’s new definition of the Taliban as “insurgents” rather than “terrorists.”

    My intention is not to defend any of the actors in Afghanistan. But we must acknowledge the reality on the ground. The Taliban are very powerful. At the same time, this is not to suggest that they’re going to capture Kabul and take Afghanistan back to 1990s.

    Today’s situation in Afghanistan is quite different from the 1990s. Back then, after the Soviet withdrawal, Afghanistan was left in the lurch. The power vacuum created by the departing Soviets was eventually filled by the Taliban. Currently, there’s no power vacuum of that kind. Moreover, Kabul enjoys the support of the U.S. and many other nations who are categorically opposed to the Taliban retaking Afghanistan. However, the Taliban do have the capacity to sustain insurgency, perhaps, for an indefinite period of time. This is the most troubling aspect for the U.S. and its allies. That’s because they can’t afford to keep fighting simultaneously on multiple fronts such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Ukraine.

    Therefore, the one possible way out for the U.S. and its allies (and the one occupying most of their attention) is to negotiate with the Taliban. The will allow the U.S. to extend its stay in Afghanistan for at least a few more years. But the question of negotiations isn’t an easy one for the U.S. to resolve. If nothing else, it mainly requires the Taliban to agree to the existence of certain U.S. military basis in Afghanistan — a demand the Taliban most vehemently oppose.

    It’s obvious from the Times report that the dialogue with the Taliban is on hold, if it hasn’t failed entirely. Therefore, the U.S. has few options other than involving regional states such as Pakistan, Iran and China in resolving the Taliban conundrum.

    The Taliban have welcomed China’s involvement. They sent a delegate to China to discuss issues related to Afghanistan and the current regional situation, sources close to Taliban told the AIP or Afghan Islamic Press. A Taliban official, who requested anonymity, also confirmed the visit of the Taliban officials to China, saying, “The purpose of the trip was to share the Islamic Emirate’s stance with China.” The visit of the Taliban delegation to China came shortly after the newly-elected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani paid a four-day official trip to China. If this was not enough, the Chinese ambassador to Kabul reportedly offered, in a meeting with Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Afghanistan’s chief executive officer, to use China’s influence with Pakistan in the peace process. All the major actors involved in the Afghan war, in fact, are looking to China for help. An example is a meeting was held in London in December 2014 where officials from China, Afghanistan and the U.S. met to discuss a future course of action in the war. It was the first time that these three nations convened to seek ways to establish “peace” in Afghanistan.

    The above analysis quite clearly reflects the three-pronged strategy the U.S. is pursuing in Afghanistan at the moment. It’s trying to initiate a dialogue with the Taliban, it’s trying to keep Afghanistan militarized for as long as possible, and it’s trying to regionalize the Afghan problem by specifically bringing in China — an actor which until recently was the least politically active player in Afghanistan.

    No matter what China does, there are givens that can’t be erased. To sum up, the Taliban are a still powerful force. So long as they’re on the ground, the U.S. can’t hope to impose any “peace” deal on Afghanistan. This means the Afghan war will continue for years to come. The Afghan people will also continue to suffer if the U.S. persists with its demand for Afghan military bases. This, instead of focusing on establishing a power-sharing arrangement between the civilian government and the Taliban.

    Salman Rafi Sheikh is a freelance journalist and research analyst of international relations and Pakistan affairs. His area of interest is South and West Asian politics, the foreign policies of major powers, and Pakistani politics.
     
  2. GiannKall

    GiannKall FULL MEMBER

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    No Taliban exist in Afghanistan at least not in the way western propaganda promotes. The situation is far more worst and sinister(hundreds of small groups that refuse to obey to Kabul government). Its impossible to make peace with them. The government lucks respect to disarm all these people
     
  3. Desertfalcon

    Desertfalcon PROFESSIONAL

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    I agree with the article in the OP and GiannKall as well. American policy in Afghanistan has, (like very other country's that has occupied that country!), been a failure. The naive American idea that we were going to make Afghanistan into a democracy and thereby, inoculate her against Islamic extremism, has failed in the same way it has in every other country we have tried that in. We would have been better to have focused on ONLY destroying Al Qaeda and then leaving the country to it's own devices.
     
  4. black-hawk_101

    black-hawk_101 BANNED

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    I think the good and bad taliban story has been busted now in Pakistan. But still we don't know anything about Afghanistan at all. As sometime before now, they used to tell everyone that Pashtuns in Pakistan came from Afghanistan and we are one community not different at all. But now both behave as they don't know each other at all.

    I think you have understand what I am saying. Pakistan needs to make up a new type and form of Border Security by combining Levis, FC, Rangers and Anti Narcoti force into one force. That will be guarding the Western, Eastern and Northern border. I think we should not loose out ourselves on IRAN-AFGHANISTAN and even on CHINA too.
     
  5. nangyale

    nangyale FULL MEMBER

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    That should have been the policy, but it wasn't and still isn't.
    Nation building and all that has been but a myth. US interest in Afghanistan is not about AQ, it's about the strategic location of Afghanistan and about access to South/Central Asia.
     
  6. Desertfalcon

    Desertfalcon PROFESSIONAL

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    I think it has more to do with trying to sanitize Afghanistan against being a future haven, once again, for international Islamic terrorism, but the policy, no matter what all the goals may have been, has clearly been a failure.
     
  7. nangyale

    nangyale FULL MEMBER

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    If it were to sanitize Afghanistan then the US wouldn't have brought back the old "Mujahidean". A simple case in point is Commander Sayyaf, the very person who invited OBL to Afghanistan. The same person was a candidate in the 2014 presidential elections. This being just a single example.
    Like I said nation-building and war on terra, has been nothing but myths.
     
  8. Desertfalcon

    Desertfalcon PROFESSIONAL

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    And I keep agreeing with you concerning the myth of "nation-building". But Abdul Sayyaf wasn't "brought back" by the US. He was just free to run for office under Afghanistan's constitution. And the US always supported the Northern Alliance, well before our invasion of the country.
     
  9. nangyale

    nangyale FULL MEMBER

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    Not always.
    Back in the 90s the Taliban were supported by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and UAE (who were all US allies) and the former Mujahidean of Northern Alliance were supported by Russia, Iran and India (not very close to the US). So although it wasn't directly but indirectly I would say that the US supported the Taliban.
    Now coming back to Sayyaf, I still find it amazing that the person who was one of the closest friends of OBL in Afghanistan the same person who inspired the Abu-Sayyaf of the Philippines and the person who trained Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, was a presidential candidate in an Afghanistan that is run by American taxpayers money.
     
  10. GiannKall

    GiannKall FULL MEMBER

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    Afghan interior minister claims that "friends" are behind the insecurity in northern Afghanistan. In other words anti-Pashtun and anti-Taliban warlords like the Uzbek Dostum and the Tajik Ismail Khan deliberately increase insecurity in their areas to blackmail the government. When your "allies" act like this then you have big troubles
     
  11. Desertfalcon

    Desertfalcon PROFESSIONAL

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    1. Nevertheless, America supported the Northern Alliance and opposed the Taliban. Indeed, it was with the assassination of "America's man", Northern Alliance commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, that the 9-11 attacks began and it all came apart for us.

    2. You can't imagine it about Abu Sayyaf because you wrongly believe that Afghanistan is, "run by America". If it only were! Alas, it is not run by much of anybody and the nature of it's government allows Sayyaf to seek office.
     
  12. nangyale

    nangyale FULL MEMBER

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    1. Not so. If anything Massoud was supported by the trio of Russia,Iran and India not the US during the civil war era. You can say that he was supported by the CIA in the 80s, but then again so was every other commander that was fighting against the USSR including the Haqqanis who today are demonised.
    By the way the 9/11 attacks were having no direct link with the assassination of Massoud, apart from occurring in the same month. He could have no bearing on that plan as he was controlling a very small part of Afghanistan, apart those attacks were financed and executed from outside of Afghanistan by non-Afghans.

    2. I never said "run by America" I said run by American taxpayers money (please don't misquote me). Meaning that the Afghan gov is financed and thus beholden to it's American benefactor and thus shouldn't do anything that is openly against supposedly US interests.
    Run by America would mean that the country is completely under the US control which obviously is not the case, as there is as active and growing insurgency.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2015
  13. Desertfalcon

    Desertfalcon PROFESSIONAL

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    We gave less support to him after the Soviet defeat, but we continued to support him up until the day he was assassinated. The CIA funneled large monthly cash payments to him and the Northern Alliance and actively participated in coordinating with Northern Alliance forces...

    "Blee hands Massoud a briefcase full of cash. [VANITY FAIR, 11/2004]Schroen and Blee assure Massoud that, although he has been visited less by the CIA recently, they are still interested in working with him, and they will continue to make regular payments of several hundred thousand dollars each month." Context of 'September 9, 2001: Northern Alliance Leader Massoud Is Assassinated in Anticipation of 9/11 Attack'

    "We had connections to the Northern Alliance, Ahmed Shah Massoud's group of Tajik fighters up in the north. The CIA was sending teams into northern Afghanistan from '97 up until about 2000 to meet with Massoud's people, to try to get them involved. ..." Interviews - Gary Schroen | The Dark Side | FRONTLINE | PBS

    And as for Massoud and 9-11...

    " “With Massoud out of the way, the Taliban and al-Qaeda would be rid of their most effective opponent and be in a stronger position to resist the American onslaught.” [ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 9/9/2002]"

    "The 9/11 Commission found that the hijackings in the United States on September 11, 2001, were the culmination of al Qaeda’s three-step plan. First, on September 9, 2001, al Qaeda assassinated Northern Alliance commander Ahmed Shah Massoud in a suicide bombing. Massoud’s death was a major gift to the Taliban because he was their chief rival and still controlled parts of the country. The assassination was also intended to weaken opposition to the Taliban and al Qaeda within Afghanistan before the United States could plan its retaliation for the most devastating terrorist attack in history. The Northern Alliance did, in fact, play a role in America’s response." Their 9/11 Role | The Weekly Standard

    Your statements are self-contradictory. You insist in your second statement that, "run by America" would mean that it was "completely under American control", and insist that is "obviously is not the case", but then you say that "run by taxpayer money" which you claim means that the Afghan government wouldn't dare do ANYTHING that the US didn't want. Which is it?

    I can assure you that despite being "run by taxpayer money", the government of Afghanistan has done any number of things that the US didn't want. :yes4:
     
  14. RabzonKhan

    RabzonKhan SENIOR MEMBER

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    How we could have only destroyed Al Qaeda without destroying their host, can you elaborate?

    US did not bring him back he was part of Northern Alliance. Osama bin Laden was mullah Omar’s guest.

    Sayyaf had close relations with Osama in the 80s, when CIA, ISI, Osama, Sayyaf and others were fighting the Soviet Union.