Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

On New US Afghan Strategy

With the announcement of America’s new Afghan strategy, there are hopes that the situation of peace and tranquility may get better; however, there are also serious concerns that an aggressive attitude in this regard may further prolong the ongoing war in Afghanistan that now extends to 16 years. Trumps during his campaign had clearly said that he would make efforts to drawdown troops from Afghanistan and may end the war; however, the strategy announced seems totally different from what he had previously said. Anyhow, the important point is to see whether the new strategy would be beneficial for the Afghan people as a whole or not.
16 years of war against terrorism has proved to be very costly both for US and Afghanistan. US has spent billions of dollars and lost around 2,400 soldiers, while more than 20,000 soldiers have been injured. On the other hand, Afghan people have given many sacrifices as well; thousands of people have been victimized by the prevailing insecurity—particularly, they have been targeted by Taliban and Daesh insurgents. Given that there have been such sacrifices, peace and tranquility are non-existent in many parts of the country and the economic and social circumstances are instable as well.
To tackle the mentioned scenario, US president, Donald Trump, announced that US would send more soldiers to Afghanistan to fight the terrorists and that US would not tolerate the insurgents and their safe havens both in Afghanistan and the neighboring Pakistan. He said in his statement, “We will also expand authority for American armed forces to target the terrorists and criminal networks that sow violence and chaos throughout Afghanistan.” In short, it seemed from Trumps statements that US would follow a tough military solution to terrorism in Afghanistan.
In fact, there are three very clear messages in US’s Afghan strategy. First, US will pursue military objectives in Afghanistan with a new vigor, though, not as much as it used to be. Second, US has given a message to Pakistan to seriously fight with the terrorists that reside on their side of the border. And third, US does not seem to have a strict number of forces or schedule for the presence of US troops in Afghanistan, which gives them the freedom of changing matters as per the requirements of time. However, it is important to see how these messages will be received; particularly, by the regional countries, and what the ultimate outcome of the changing scenario will be on the poor and suffering people of Afghanistan. For the time being, it is difficult to say anything since there is some time before the strategy is implemented.
Afghan leaders have welcomed the new strategy and they seem confident that US will keep on supporting Afghanistan through difficult times. President Ashraf Ghani said in a statement, “I am grateful to President Trump and the American people for this affirmation of support for our efforts to achieve self-reliance and for our joint struggle to rid the region from the threat of terrorism… The new strategy will increase the capacity in the Resolute Support mission. It will particularly emphasize on enhancing the Afghan air power, doubling the size of the Afghan Special Force and deepening NATO’s ability to train, advice and assist Afghan security forces.” Meanwhile, CEO Abdullah Abdullah said in his statement, “The strategy renewed the commitment of the United States to Afghanistan and to our people. This new chapter opened by the new strategy is a unique opportunity to tackle terrorists and achieve our goals for peace… Our message to our neighbors is that the new US policy is a chance for them (countries in the region) to utilize and benefit from this opportunity.” Definitely, it is an opportunity for the region but for Afghanistan it is the last opportunity. Afghan people, particularly, Afghan leaders must ponder upon how they used the opportunities that were provided to them previously. They need to mend their ways and their thinking. They can only benefit from the US support if they are very serious about the war against terrorism. Previous experiences have shown that Afghan leaders have not been sincere in fighting against terrorism, rather, they have been busy in their own tussles and disagreements. The current political scenario and deteriorating security situation in different parts of the country can easily depict what our leaders have been doing for the last few years. Now, it is the time for them to forget their differences, join hands together, and stand united against Taliban and Daesh and against terrorism as a whole, so that a better future can be guaranteed for the people of Afghanistan. Ultimately, it is the people of Afghanistan who must be benefited from any change in circumstance. Unless, the poor and suffering people achieve something positive from any strategy, it is bound to end up in smoke.