Afghanistan is burning while Biden thinks of Fourth of July

July 4, 2021 - 21:13

TEHRAN — After 20 years U.S. troops are leaving Afghanistan without even achieving any success. This marks a historic defeat for the U.S. and its coalition.

Americans entered Afghanistan to implement a three-stage plan. To overthrow the Taliban, rebuild the central institutions, shift to the classical doctrine of counterinsurgency. After two decades none of the goals were realized.

Obama decided in 2009 to temporarily increase the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. More forces were deployed to implement a strategy to protect the population from attacks by the Taliban and to support insurgents' efforts to reintegrate into Afghan society. The strategy was also accompanied by a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan. Starting in 2011, security responsibilities were to be gradually transferred to the Afghan army and police. The new method largely failed to achieve its goals. Insurgent attacks and civilian casualties remained high, and Afghan military and police forces that performed security functions seem to be unprepared to contain the Taliban. By the time the U.S.-NATO combat mission officially ended in December 2014, 13 years had passed since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.

According to Reuters, more than 3,500 international troops were killed in Afghanistan. Reuters also quoted a Western diplomat in Kabul as saying Washington and its NATO allies “have lost the Afghan war."

The United States has always been the largest foreign power in Afghanistan and has suffered the most. By the spring of 2010, more than 1,000 American soldiers, around 300 British, and around 150 Canadian soldiers had died in Afghanistan. Both Britain and Canada stationed their troops in southern Afghanistan, where the fighting was most intense. More than 20 other countries also lost soldiers during the war, although many countries (such as Germany and Italy) chose to deploy their troops in the north and the west, where there were less militant insurgency. With fighting delayed and casualties escalated; the war lost popularity in many Western countries, prompting internal political pressure to demand that the military stay out of harm's way or withdraw altogether.

Now the main question is what was the result of 20 years of staying in Afghanistan. Was 20 years of invasion for nothing? 

The Americans are now exiting Afghanistan without even taking responsibility for what they are leaving behind. When asked about Afghanistan on July 2, Joe Biden said he will not comment on “dangerous” issues, and he needs to focus on his Fourth of July plans. Dodging a question about the worsening situation in Afghanistan is pure irresponsibility.
 
The U.S. troops entered Afghanistan to oust Taliban which had hosted al-Qaeda, according to the objectives they drew for themselves. Now, after twenty years, not only have they not been able to topple Taliban, but also negotiated with them. They negotiated with the Taliban to find an exit route. They accepted Taliban’s demands to leave Afghanistan. In other words, they bowed to the Taliban pressure. That’s cold, even for Biden. 

Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special representative under the Trump and Biden administrations for reconstructing Afghanistan, has said, “There is progress in securing an agreement with countries such as Turkey to secure the airport. We are still there, so that has to be in place before we are completely out of there militarily, which will be in September, based on what the president has announced.

Two, we're also working with the Afghans to make sure they have the contracting services that they need to maintain their air force. And we are committed to achieving that, too, before September. So, we're dealing with those two issues.

And, more, we're reorganizing our counterterrorism posture to have the access and the presence needed to monitor the situation in Afghanistan and to be able to strike terrorist targets, should that be necessary.”

When you dig deep, you see that Khalilzad’s remarks are entirely contrary to the objectives the Bush administration drew for itself. Let’s not forget that Khalilzad was George W. Bush’s senior advisor on Afghanistan and Washington’s ambassador to Kabul. 

The change of policy comes in a complicated time. People of the U.S. want their troops out of other countries. Focus groups and public baths say that. But the United States does not seem to care about the public opinion. The U.S. is withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan to shift its focus from counterinsurgency and conflicts in the region to competing with powerful near-peer rivals, such as China.  

“It’s about, ‘let’s start pivoting to Asia,’ for real this time,” said Andrew Watkins, a senior Afghanistan analyst at International Crisis Group, a nonprofit think tank based in Brussels.

After nearly 20 years, the United States military has left Afghanistan’s Bagram airbase, the epicenter of its war to remove the Taliban and hunt down the al-Qaeda perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks, two U.S. officials have said.

The airbase was fully handed over to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, the officials said on Friday on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information to the media, The Associated Press reported.

Reportedly the Taliban have attacked the air base. 

Afghan authorities on Sunday claimed to have thwarted a Taliban attack on the air base.

According to Bagram district Governor Sheren Rufi, a group of 20 Taliban insurgents attacked the local police checkpoint near the airbase, with one policeman and one insurgent killed in the exchange of fire.

There was no claim of responsibility for the attack from the Taliban.

It seems that the negotiations between Taliban and the Afghan government are not going well. Abdullah Abdullah, the top Afghan official who leads the High Council for National Reconciliation, told CNN in an exclusive interview on July 1, that talks between the two parties had made "very little progress" and were happening at a "very slow pace".

The Taliban has accused the Afghan government of not engaging with the intra-Afghan peace negotiations in Doha. "Our intention was to make some progress, but the opposite side was not interested in the peace talks," Taliban political office spokesman Mohammad Naeem claimed in a video statement on the intra-Afghan negotiations, which was released on June 30 and obtained by CNN.

CNN analysts estimate that the Taliban might gain control of the country in 6 to 12 months. 

However, contrary to the United States, Iran has been trying hard to broker peace between the two warring parties. 

“We assure the government and people of Afghanistan that the Islamic Republic of Iran has always stood by them and will continue to do so, and we call on all ethnic groups and political forces in Afghanistan to unite and reject any foreign interference, and commit to peaceful solutions to settle their disputes,” Ali Rabiei, the Iranian government spokesman, said on June 29.

In line with continuation of Tehran’s efforts to help broker peace in neighboring Afghanistan, Iran’s special envoy for Afghanistan Mohammad Ebrahim Taherian Fard held talks with Afghan Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar on June 28.

Expressing his approval over holding a tripartite meeting among Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, Atmar stressed that such a meeting will be useful in strengthening regional consensus in the efforts to stabilize Afghanistan.

Iran has doubled down on its diplomatic efforts to achieve peace in neighboring Afghanistan as the conflict there has intensified between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Iran has been loudly saying that it favors an inclusive government with the involvement of all ethnic and religious groups

It is high time for Biden and associates to take responsibility for their irresponsible actions. 

SA/PA

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