Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, July 16th, 2018

The Hazy Future

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The Hazy Future

Words fall really short explaining what is going on in Afghanistan and what is expected to come next. The world-backed process is moving rearward; no single step is being taken ahead. Appeasement policies and pacifying moves have encouraged the fugitives to carry on their terrorist operations across the country in more sophisticated ways with greater courage to expand violence to those areas that used to be peaceful. Unrealistic judgments on security situation and the futile attempts of continued call for peace talks have worked out no single issue. However, the president believed that his discontented brothers would one day embrace peace process, a hope that is frequently rebuffed by Taliban and its allied groups. In the most recent case, Kabul's most prestigious and secured hotel came under fierce attacks by a group of heavily armed suicide bombers. NATO helicopters were called in to kill three militants to end a five-hour clash at Intercontinental luxurious hotel. The attack on the Hotel left two police officers, eight civilians and eight other attackers dead. A Taliban spokesman said the insurgent group had carried out the attack at the Intercontinental. Here, let's not forget that Afghan president has repeatedly called upon them to deny attacks with no clear responsible groups. The attack lasted for hours from Tuesday midnight to Wednesday morning.

Talking on Afghanistan, US President Barack Obama said in his Wednesday speech that the attack by militants on a Kabul hotel shows Afghanistan is still dangerous, but the progress that has been made in turning back the Taliban justifies the reduction of US forces. 'We understood that Afghanistan's a dangerous place, that the Taliban is still active and that there are still going to be events like this on occasion,' Obama said. 'That doesn't mean that there are not going to be events like this potentially taking place. And that will probably go on for some time,' Obama added. 'Our work is not done.' The attack comes as Afghanistan is moving towards independence in controlling security issues in certain parts of the country. Obama announced last week that he is withdrawing 10,000 US soldiers by the end of this year, and an additional 23,000 by September 2012. The US presence in Afghanistan currently numbers about 100,000, with the reductions to begin in July 2011.

Few weeks before the start date for withdrawal of the US forces from Afghanistan, the forces contributing nations have run of patience because of what they observe in Afghanistan: increasing expenses and insecurity, huge death toll and little achievement. A number of opinion polls in NATO countries clearly suggested that their governments should pull back the troops stationed here for more than a decade. Public pressure on governments originates from the fact that the blunders committed during a decade-long NATO presence in Afghanistan have led to deterioration of security, failed reconstruction projects and abortive institution building process. The bigger problem is that Afghan government seems to have got no realistic sense of the status quo. The recent hard-hitting series of lethal operations by Taliban militants across the country clearly demonstrate absolute futility of Karzai government's impractical appeasement policies, recently enhanced by establishing the pointless High Peace Council. The government's feeble stance against militants since 2004 and the international community's strategic mistakes are leading the country to a total chaos.

On the other side, following Osama's death and with intense budget pressures at home, the US administration seems more determined to withdraw troops and put an end to the Afghan insurgency through diplomatic means. The United States officials confirmed few days ago that they had contacted the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar to make negotiations aimed at ending the conflict in Afghanistan. Both the Afghan government and the international community are recently approaching the mission more politically rather than militarily as was conceived at the early stages of war. To pacify militants, the government has taken several steps to help the reconciliation process happen as expected. In the latest move, Karzai government asked the UN Security Council to remove more blacklisted Taliban names. Based on the request to facilitate peace talks, a special committee was formed and announced that Taliban and Al-Qaeda lists of sanctions were separated. As the talks offer to the Taliban is not something new, the international community, however afraid of losing, has backed the idea. For that, the Obama administration has bluntly supported the peace talks with the Taliban, however, conditioned on preservation of the Afghan national constitution and democratic achievements. The people also hope for a successful negotiation and safe transition process. But their fear on the undemocratic outcomes of negotiation with Taliban needs to be taken into account by Afghan government and the world community involved in the process.

In addition, the cooperation and coordination process between Afghan government and the international forces in the war against terrorism has increasingly proved divergent. The forces have frequently expressed concern on president Karzai's administration and the Afghan forces' capability to aptly handle the job. While President expresses concern on how the international forces are operating. Furthermore, the recent violent developments in major cities of the country indicate that extremist groups are highly active from the most populated cities to the remote deserted areas. Security in northern Afghanistan, once seen as a success story compared with the more troublesome south and east, has fallen apart under increasing attacks that intelligence and government officials say are fueled by a new influx of militants moving in from bases in Pakistan's tribal areas. Intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, have said that the militants have taken control of several villages and merged with local Taliban insurgents to create a deadly new force. The growing threat in an area far from the Taliban's southern heartland is worrisome for NATO as it looks to withdraw and hand over the security of Afghan provinces to the national army and police. The United States, which begins a drawdown of its forces next month, wants to complete its pullout by 2014.

A decade later than that mission was launched with strong international backing, violence continues harassing people's lives and downplaying achievements in Afghanistan. The perspective of peace, development and stability remains erratic in the country. Battling a multilateral dilemma, the government is too feeble to stand on its own. However it is chanting slogans that international forces have to surrender more responsibilities to the Afghan forces because the overall situation here has seen no substantial improvements rather it has, in some cases, deteriorated badly; nontransparent negotiations with the Taliban and offering them some highly generous bonuses, will endanger the relatively good achievements and a premature abandonment of Afghanistan by international forces will leave behind a bunch of more heightened troublesome issues at the hand of insufficiently experienced managers, with the rising militancy and increasing direct meddling by certain external elements that have waited long to embrace the opportunity.

Nasruddin Memati is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at outlookafghanistan@gmail.com

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