Dubai (4/5- 22.22). Afghanistan’s security forces have fought back a Taliban offensive in southern Helmand province, officials and residents have said, as the armed group launched assaults around the country after a missed United States deadline to withdraw troops.
In a series of attacks against Afghan police and military heavy fighting was reported. Largely ignored by western media outlets the increase in violence is foreseen by many observers.
Fearful of woman’s and girls rights are rolled back under a new Taliban regime the future is bleak. Both corruption and desertions plague the Afghan security forces. Violence has increased so has insider attacks.
Biden rolled back the 1 May 2021 pull out date and set a new date for September 2021 which by many is seen as a political gambit to a highly critical and divided American audience. Not surprisingly the Taliban will have none of it.
Although images of U.S. helicopters evacuating from rooftops is unlikely the irony of America’s failed war in Afghanistan is not lost on many observers. More concerning is what the future will hold for Afghanistan and the world. Extremist Islam has not been defeated, the top-leadership is still around.
“The symbols of hate of the Global Enterprise of Terror is still in place. Taliban is not rejected by the Afghan population.”, said a expert on radicalization.
He added, “In financial terms, the ROI (Return of Investment) of coin spend to fight small insurrectionist and terror groups versus success has only shifted the battle field from Afghanistan and Iraq to Africa. Strategic containment of the Taliban political science talk for defeat and feel good statements to appease the U.S. audiences.”
Al Qaeda nor Taliban and its global enterprise of terror is not defeated. Its beaten, but not not defeated. U.S. experts are quick to add that the capabilities are diminished and capabilities to strike a 9/11 attack on America’s homeland have been thwarted. However, the terror groups play for time and seemingly the strategy will gain the upper hand.
A leading European terror expert once said, “Radicals not necessarily are extremist but extremists are never democrats.” A hope that
Only a political solution can achieved peace and prosperity. But statements from the Taliban are not providing much comfort. Unless we have dramatic changes the outlook remains predictable.
Taliban launches offensive
Attaullah Afghan, the head of Helmand’s provincial council, said the Taliban had launched its offensive on Monday from multiple directions. The group attacked checkpoints around the outskirts of the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah, taking over some of them, he said.
Afghan security forces had carried out air strikes and deployed elite commando forces to the area. The group had been pushed back but fighting was continuing on Tuesday and hundreds of families had been displaced, he added.
“There was a thunderstorm of heavy weapons and blasts in the city and the sound of small arms was like someone was making popcorn,” Mulah Jan, a resident of a Lashkar Gah suburb, told Reuters news agency on Tuesday.
“I took all my family members to the corner of the room, hearing the heavy blasts and bursts of gunfire as if it was happening behind our walls,” he said.
Families that could afford to leave had fled, but he had been unable to go, waiting with his family in fear before the Taliban was pushed back.
A Taliban surge in Helmand would have particular resonance, as the opium-growing desert province was where US and British forces suffered the bulk of their losses during the 20-year war.
The US pullout
As part of the pullout, US forces handed over a base in Helmand to Afghan government troops two days ago. In Washington, the US military said that about two to six percent of the withdrawal process had been completed so far.
United States Central Command said that the equivalent of about 60 C-17 aircraft worth of material had been moved out of Afghanistan and more than 1,300 pieces of equipment had been handed over to be destroyed.
The wording is interesting “equipment handed over to be destroyed”. Images emerging from the Taliban shows some carrying what appears captured western weapons with night-vision capabilities. Taliban “commando” units emulating western appearance in equipment, dress, camouflage and tactics. It is unclear if the weapons were captured, lost as a result of widespread corruption.
Like Hezbollah and Hamas, Taliban are beginning to form military structures shadowing the government. The good news, military type structures can be defeated. Guerrillas or asymmetrical warfighting seldom is defeated by arms. Only internal changes in the Taliban and Afghan society at large will change the battle space.
And here opportunity meets the threat. With the pockets of power beginning now to re-enter on the road of reclaiming power the Taliban are set to re-set the Afghan clock. Interesting to watch will be the migration from Afghanistan. And will the threat move beyond the borders of Afghanistan. Expert are undecided but the threat against Americans will domestically shift towards all foreigners.
Observer noted that who could could move out of Afghanistan has left the country. A sudden influx of immigration to the U.S., Great Britain or Europe will indicate the true state of affairs in Afghanistan.
This represents the failure of U.S. and western allies policy towards Afghanistan but observers point out U.S. policy has not a nation building philosophy. Many viewed Afghanistan and Iraq as a combat laboratory to test new weapons, communications and capabilities.
Without doubt with the near-end of the war in Afghanistan a more liberal, almost naïve world view towards extremist Islam emerges. And the direct negotiations by the U.S. failed over choices past administrations made reflects the quagmire Afghanistan present to everyone.
The frustrations goes both ways. In a March 2019 conference in Washington, D.C., the Afghan National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib accused Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan, of “delegitimizing” the Afghan government in Kabul by excluding it from peace negotiations in Doha, Qatar.
The U.S. envoy himself with presidential ambitions in Afghanistan and despite the ruffled feathers in Washington shunning the British educated Mohib the talks collapsed a year later.
After the failed deal the withdrawal from Afghanistan can be summarized as “we tried our best, we got OBL now its time to leave.”, said a long term U.S. senior officer.
And in this mix of the U.S. democrats “Business As Usual” the recent Biden speech wanting to claim the political victory that it was the new administration who finally won the war in Afghanistan by September 11, 2021 is a pyrrhic victory.
Corruption remains rampant, social services have not improved, politics remains tribal, regionally different from a unified government. The kinetic response will unlikely save Afghanistan post-withdrawal. Like any other far-left U.S. slogan, Afghanistan will remain a basket case with pockets of violent and terror actors.
The future, a grim outlook.
U.S. reports repeatedly made it clear in public reports the Afghan security forces have little chance to survive without foreign assistance. The 2021 report on Afghanistan continues to paint a grim picture.
This allows to draw some similarities to other U.S. led efforts like in Columbia. Unless a firm leader in Afghan society emerges who takes on the Taliban and unifies the country will descend into the usual failed state category.
The economy although surprisingly improved but still lacks sustainable development. At the end Afghanistan will continue to face civil war and insurgency.
And as the American general noted the Taliban has not broken with Al Qaeda or other extremists fraction. From the perspective of the Taliban they are winning.