This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Battling a Ferocious Hydra

"Sixteen years after the United States first sent troops to Afghanistan, U.S. military commanders describe the war there as stalemated. The Trump administration has initiated a major strategy review, and the Pentagon reportedly seeks to add several thousand American troops to the 8,400 already in Afghanistan. More troops can help achieve American objectives in Afghanistan, but only if they are part of a larger and more effective strategy. That will require a change of course."
"The current approach is plainly inadequate. Although more Afghan forces are trained and in the fight than ever before, the Taliban today controls more territory than at any time since 9/11. Faced with corruption and exclusionary politics, popular opposition to the government in Kabul is rising, while the Taliban makes inroads in rural areas and, increasingly, near the cities. According to the U.S. government, some twenty insurgent or terrorist groups now operate in the Afghanistan-Pakistan theater, including ISIS, Al Qaeda and the Haqqanis—the world’s highest concentration of extremist networks."

US soldiers walk at the site of a Taliban suicide attack in Kandahar on August 2, 2017, after a Taliban suicide bomber rammed a vehicle filled with explosives into a convoy of foreign forces in Afghanistan's restive southern province of Kandahar. JAVED TANVEER/AFP/Getty

It began with a roar of U.S.-led NATO troops invading Afghanistan after the Taliban refused to surrender Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network to American demands in the wake of the dreadful 9/11 attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. The goal initially was to capture the leader of al-Qaeda and to break al-Qaeda's hold on the imagination and loyalty of Arab Muslims who dedicated themselves to the Koranic dictates to the faithful to obey their duty to jihad.

That goal proved elusive, but the defiant Taliban linked inextricably to al-Qaeda was itself forced to evacuate their strongholds in Kabul and throughout the provinces of Afghanistan, where they had succeeded in ousting the corrupt sway of the warlords of the Northern Alliance, to install their own version of Pashtun Sunni investiture as a tyrannical theocracy constraining the lives of the Afghan population.

The invasion's purpose was modified toward humanitarian ends, to restore order in a war-torn environment, upended by the Soviet invasion that failed to pacify the raging antagonism of Afghans against foreign invaders. This country that throughout its long history has seen one wave of foreign invaders after another in trade and European colonialist conflicts had a long memory and a visceral reaction to the presence of foreign occupiers.

And then, the Pashtun and foreign Arab fighters that came together to battle the Soviets, trained and armed by an alliance between the U.S. and Pakistan's Interservices (Intelligence) Agency and Military, gave the world its offshoots, al-Qaeda and the Taliban. After all those years of NATO-member militaries working to restore order, combat the Taliban, build confidence between themselves and Afghans, by training police and the military and installing wells and irritation systems, building medical clinics and schools, the ongoing resurgence of the Taliban has been unabated.

Close to one-third of the country is "contested", not under the control of the central government in Kabul and its National Security Forces; instead the Taliban, al-Qaeda and Islamic State, among others, have installed themselves, competing for power and control. The Sunni forces of these terrorist groups prey on Shiite villagers, threatening and violating their human rights to ensure compliance, including using farmers to grow poppies for opium production for black market sale to profit themselves as warriors of Allah.

Suicide bombings and massacres take place at randomly selected places destroying lives in mass atrocities, both in far-flung provinces absent the protection of the Afghan military, and in the mountainous regions where terrorist groups like the Haqqani network sequester themselves and where minority tribal groups like the Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks, Aimaqs, Turkmen and Baloch, which collectively make up roughly 60 percent of the population of Afghanistan, come under attack. And nor is Kabul exempt from suicide attacks.

The government of President Ashraf Ghani, like his predecessor Hamid Karzai, is a Pashtun, representing the very ethnic bloc that has produced the Taliban and its Pakistani tribal Haqqani terrorists. In a remote Hazara town in the mountains of the northern province of Sar-e-Pol villagers fearful of attack had begged Kabul to defend them by sending along the military. Their fears were ignored and the Taliban assaulted several villages with armed men reently, carrying the Taliban flag and that of the Khorasan wing of ISIL.

Townspeople were slaughtered, some shot, others beheaded - men, women and children -- and thrown off cliffs. These minorities traditionally suffered discrimination, violent pogroms and genocidal attacks, stepped up throughout five years of Taliban rule until 2001's U.S.-led invasion of the country. In desperation the minorities have been led to understand that they will find protection only by relying upon their own warlords to once again lead them. So much for Afghan democracy.

And nor is Turkey absent from the country that Russia and Iran have been making inroads within. One of Afghanistan's vice-presidents, the Uzbek warlord Abdurashid Dostum is an old friend of Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and in fact now lives in Turkey. The U.S. combat role in Afghanistan officially ended when President Obama washed his hands of the country in 2014. The several thousands of U.S. servicemen remaining as part of a NATO train-and-assist program is what is left, alongside a total of 13,000 soldiers from 39 countries.

None of the NATO countries involved seem to be struggling under the illusion that their presence will make a difference in the longer run. The U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction reported last week that the Afghan government controls a mere 60 percent of the Afghan countryside, with the rest in the firm control of terrorist groups. Like Libya, Iraq and Syria, jihadi groups plying their terror trade have moved into control of wide swaths of territory.

And the governments that themselves trade in terror with their own proxy militias specializing in sectarian and tribal violence, like Iran and Syria and increasingly Iraq (not to mention Saudi Arabia) all harbour the same viral pathogen of Islamofascism, the effects of which the world is becoming accustomed to fearing and anticipating, prepared to grow into the future.

A French sniper looks through his rifle's scope while keeping watch over Qarabagh district, about 40 km (25 miles) north of Kabul, November 20, 2007. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood
A French sniper looks through his rifle's scope while keeping watch over Qarabagh district, about 40 km north of Kabul, November 20 2007. Reuters/Ahmad Masood

Labels: , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

() Follow @rheytah Tweet