Trump outsources the Afghan policy to his generals

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The Trump Administration has given the discretion of deciding to send thousands of more troops in Afghanistan, paving the way for the military to ramp up its fight against the Taliban and the Islamic State in the region.

The decision which is expected to be announced today. After chatters and indications to the effect since the employment of MOAB in April, the US is all set to adhere to the views of field commanders in Afghanistan. The war-withal of the Afghan Forces has been beaten squarely by the Taliban over the past two months; this is chiefly responsible for making the US revert to its military-heavy Afghan strategy.

Earlier on Tuesday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the U.S. is “not winning” the war in Afghanistan and that he was ready to take measures to address the brazen resurgence of the Taliban and the meteoric rise of the IS Khorasan Group.

The security profile is worsening in Afghanistan and it is bringing the weaknesses of the Afghan government and security forces to the fore. The Taliban as of now hold 58% of the territory and are challenging the already feeble writ of the state.

The intelligence chiefs in Washington have been raising doubts on the future of the country and have time and again predicted that the situation will worsen. The word was abuzz that the US will employ based on an increased troop level and aerial campaign. However, there were voices in Washington which resisted the reversion of a military-centric, for it had failed to deliver the good during the 2010 troop-surge when the forces numbered 100,000.

Read more: Dastardly terror in Afghanistan: Is a new war about to begin?

Negotiations out of the Window

Last week James Mattis unequivocally refused talks with the Taliban. “”They use bombs because ballots would ensure they never had a role to play,” he said.

He firmly opined that the Taliban could never be part of a democratic Afghanistan and avowed it quite categorically.

The idea to militarily defeat the Taliban means that the US would send in more than the proposed increase of 5,000. It could mean that the US will be staying in the country with a massive military footprint.

“As far as Afghanistan goes, as Secretary Tillerson said, the policy is under review, but at the same time, we’re up against an enemy that knows that they cannot win at the ballot box, and you think—we have to sometimes remind ourselves of that reality. That’s why they use bombs because ballots would ensure they never had a role to play, and based on that foundation, that they cannot win the support, the affection, the respect of the Afghan people. We will stand by them. They’ve had a long, hard fight, and Australia has been in this one from the very beginning, and the fight goes on. But the bottom line is we’re not going to surrender civilization to people who cannot win at the ballot box,” he categorically said.

He said this the very day President Ghani offered an olive branch to the Taliban during his opening remarks in the Kabul Process meeting.

The US’s utter denunciation of talks with the Taliban has come at a time when it is becoming obvious that fighting would not shake the resolve of the Taliban and if anything it will make them more aggressive. The idea to militarily defeat the Taliban means that the US would send in more than the proposed increase of 5,000. It could mean that the US will be staying in the country with a massive military footprint.This gave a clear indication of what was in store for Afghanistan: no negotiations with the Taliban. The situation in the country is degenerating by the day, much to the dismay of top officials and experts. The Taliban announced their spring offensive last month, and they are conducting it with a great degree of freedom and leverage. The confidence that they are gaining will not make them accept further foreign interventions. They will garner more support for their  “Go Foreign Troops” demand. Hence, boosting the military side will further make the Taliban unconquerable.

Read more: Kabul Process: Afghanistan’s refusing to admit the buck stops home

Punishing Pakistan

With Pentagon in the lead,   the US could very well carry out limited military actions inside FATA to pluck out hostile elements to US war efforts in Afghanistan. The drone campaign will be ramped up and according to experts, the US may look for new targets including the alleged Quetta Shura.

A drone strike has killed a commander of the deadly Haqqani network in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Hangu district, security sources said Tuesday.

The Afghan government along with Washington have accused Pakistan of harboring and supporting elements inimical to peace in the country. The US has been vociferous in asking Pakistan to “do more “  especially against the Haqqani Network. The resumption of drone strikes inside Pakistan is part of US new policy which also applies to Pakistan.

The reference to Pakistan was made by NSA McMaster last month. ““And so what we’ll have at the end of the next few weeks here is an opportunity for a much more effective strategy for the problem set in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the region broadly,” Gen McMaster said last month.

Read more: Chinese mediation to end Pakistan-Afghanistan animosity

The US has already started to squeeze Pakistan. Last month the Trump Administration made a cut of US $100 million compared to the previous time – in its annual budget proposals under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF), a Pentagon program to reimburse US allies that have incurred costs in supporting counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations. Besides,  the administration has proposed $344 million in financial assistance to Pakistan including $100 million in foreign military funding, a massive $190 million reduction in the grant as compared to the 2016 fiscal year.

With Pentagon in the lead,   the US could very well carry out limited military actions inside FATA to pluck out hostile elements to US war efforts in Afghanistan. The drone campaign will be ramped up and according to experts, the US may look for new targets including the alleged Quetta Shura.  In all the policy shift could adversely affect Pak-US ties in the near future without altering the Afghan situation in favor of the US.

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