Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, February 24th, 2020

The Prospective Looks Grim


The Prospective Looks Grim

Perhaps, international community's military and political officials did not think that counterinsurgency struggle might last a decade or even longer. But it did and still Taliban-led insurgencies have remained a potential threat to Afghan government and democratic achievements in the absence of foreign security forces. Two main strongholds of Taliban militants---Province of Kandahar and Helmand---came under relative-control of Kabul government or, let's say, the Afghan government has a higher hand in this two provinces. Presently, the overall situation in both provinces is promising and government enjoys better control over the issues.

What increased the casualty of security forces is tactical change of military measures. While, previously, foreign forces were not trying much to track elements of Al-Qaeda and Taliban and follow them to streets and lakes, but now they are hunting them. This aggressive position of Afghan security forces and its foreign allies has provided opportunity for Taliban and al-Qaeda elements to retreat back and take a defensive position. In such a case, the insurgency tactics of provision of explosive devices and roadside bombings are very successful in targeting the attackers.

The present ground condition is a bit complex. 2011 was the deadliest year for Afghan as well as foreign security forces. Same was the case with Afghan security forces. Both Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANF) suffered largely and more a thousand of them were killed in direct military operations or unluckily tore into pieces by roadside bombings and suicidal attacks.

If we just put a glance to graph of military casualties, we can obviously observe that how it moves upward. Do the military casualties show the enlargement of capacity of Taliban-led militants? Many maintain that foreign and Afghan military casualties during 2011 do not actually show the strength of Taliban militants. There are talks about deadly blows insurgency has suffered recently due to effective, joint military operations that succeeded in weakening its previous strong operational capacities.

However, unbeatable stronghold of militants like Helmand and Kandahar are now, somehow, under the control after "US military surge" in 2009, yet experts are worried about dispersion of militants to several provinces and a change of their headquarters—from Kandahar and Helmand to provinces along the porous border of Pakistan.

New battle fronts are opened. Currently, northern parts of the country do not enjoy peace and security which it used to do few years ago. Insurgents now, like virus, have extended its domain of presence, however their establishment suffered largely. Insurgents have shown they are able to carry out attack on particular targets anywhere in the country. Series of attacks in the capital city, Kabul, where government has applied tough security measure, are the examples of instability and ability of militants in carrying out terror attacks.

Meanwhile, nowadays, more than ever, transition and military withdrawal have changed into regular discussion in the White House. Seemingly, the US officials are decided to retreat back from Taliban and al-Qaeda-created quagmire and do not further insist on the complete elimination of al-Qaeda supporter's stronghold from this part of the world. Discussions put down years ago about shifting Afghanistan mission into a narrower one---from counterinsurgency struggle to counter-Al-Qaeda elements---is gradually put in practice. Talks with Taliban leaders and In Qatar and release of some of their high ranking officials are sign examples of fundamental change in dealing with Afghan militants.

Moreover, there are authentic reports about increasing anti war sentiment even among republicans who have been the main supporters of both Iraq and Afghanistan war. Frequently, American officials, including Mr. President Obama, have talked about US military withdrawal in 2014, but, on the other hand, they emphasize that military withdrawal largely depends on the ground situation. Linking military withdrawal with the ground situation brought about misunderstanding or doubts about genuine intention of Washington, whether they are serious about the scheduled withdrawal or not.

Obviously, many analysts were analyzing statements of US statesmen as such that the US military withdrawal depends on betterment of security situation, capacity of Afghan security forces, and, more importantly, weakening of operational capacity of insurgency. For instance, if Afghan security forces are not ready to holding responsibility to deal with the protection of Afghan citizens, US military withdrawal will be postponed.

But now it has become clear that NATO would withdraw definitely. The United States of America will leave Afghanistan on the scheduled timetable without any conditions. Whatever will be the condition of security situation and state of Afghan security forces, US may not change the timetable of withdrawal.

However, all domestic and foreign analysts truly expressing doubt about the rapid improvement of Afghan National army and police to an extent acquiring enough potential to deal with the ongoing security crisis and disturbances, which may even get stronger in future, but Afghan officials frequently underscored another page of this process. They give much importance to strategic, economic and political cooperation of US, which seemingly has nothing to do with the issue of military withdrawal. Strategic cooperation, economic tie as well as political support will continue and will not come to stoppage in definite time.

On other hand, obviously, the United States of America will not cooperate with a government which preach Islamic fundamentalism. And it only continue strategic, economic and political cooperation with a government who protects the US interest and ensure that the country will not be changed again into al-Qaeda stronghold which threatens regional and global security situation. Thus, the economic and strategic cooperation between two countries necessarily includes lasting commitment towards ensuring that Afghanistan once again will not fall into hand of Taliban and its Al-Qaeda ally. Seemingly, therefore, Afghan officials are highlighting non-military cooperation between two countries and pay lesser importance to military presence.

But let's be realistic. Afghan government is not really capable of dealing with militants alone. The recent two sensitive and unfortunate incidents have made american politicians to leave Afghanistan in order to save their lives of their soldiers. So, it is not what will happen in the withdrawal, but the prospective looks grim.

Jawad Rahmani is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at jawad_rahmani2001@yahoo.com

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