The Afghan national unity government has announced readiness to resume peace talks with the Taliban insurgents, however, the militants responded with a deadly raid on the headquarters of the Afghan National Army in Nangarhar province, killing over 140 military personnel, and laying bare the fact that the goal of reaching peace and stability in Afghanistan is so elusive.
The insurgents of Taliban have recently intensified assaults against the government and army sites. The Taliban no longer looks like an independent entity following a focused method and policy. This is because the militant group went fragmented after death of its leaders Mullah Omar and then Mullah Mansur. Now Taliban group has a self-proclaimed emir in most of the Afghanistan provinces, and has established its own judiciary, which people sometimes refer to it to settle their cases.
Actually, the leadership of Taliban is now far from being centralized as it was before, and even the different splits of the militant group are now played with by foreign actors like the US and Britain. One of Taliban’s key supporters is the Pakistani spying agency Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI). Beside frequently complaining that Islamabad is adopting duality in fighting Taliban and terrorism in general in Afghanistan, Washington itself did its best to boost its maneuvering capabilities in dealing with the insurgents.
In fact, US desire to prevent Taliban from falling under full sway of Pakistan pushed the US to seek unmediated links with the insurgent group. This looked quite appropriate for Taliban which regards the Americans the main dealing side, rather than the Afghan government. That is why after a major American and NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan, the offensives were largely directed against the Afghan security and army forces, including the recent attack on the Shahin base of the Afghan National Army’s 209th Corps. The Balkh province attack, the analysts suggest, displayed a Taliban resolution to hit the country’s armed forces’ position along with launching a psychological war against them.
The Kabul officials responded to the painful attack with some reactions, including replacements in the security apparatus in a desperate bid to administer the deteriorating security conditions. But Taliban’s challenge is enormous, and this feature is even more extreme due multitude foreign actors with conflicting interests.
In fact, the intricacy of the country’s issues cannot be addressed only by steps taken by the government of President Ashraf Ghani who himself walks in line with Washington in adopting policies for the nation. The past two years’ growing insecurity in northern Afghanistan- Kunduz capture, deadly assault on the central Kabul’s Sardar Davoud Khan military hospital, and very latest one the Mazar-e-Sharif attack- cannot by simply disregarded, and actually part of the shortcomings must be blamed on the government itself. The recent Balkh base blast happened while any entry or exit from the military installations requires identification and the door checkpoints must be tough in security terms implementation. But, the attackers very easily crossed into the military site while carrying huge amounts of explosives.
The blast exposed the government to harsh public opinion’s criticism, making it resort to reshuffling the military establishment. The result was accepting resignation of the Defense Minister Abdullah Habibi and the Army Chief of Staff Qadam Shah Shahin by President Ghani. But the military officials’ stepping down might not make so much difference to deter the flagrant insecurity, largely because now the US seeks expansion of influence in the country’s north through allowing a reign of terror in the region.
The aim behind the US struggle to control northern Afghanistan is building a reliable base to bring under sway parts of Central Asia including Fergana Valley spreading across eastern Uzbekistan, southern Kyrgyzstan, and northern Tajikistan, a clout that Washington thinks could help cover up for its failures in Syria and Iraq against Russia.
While the government can also be held partly accountable for part of staggering security conditions in the country, other factors are crucial in the recently heated violence. During former President Hamed Karzai’s term, from 2004 to 2014, the violence was limited to south and southeast, with the north living in stable security conditions, predominantly because of a firm unity among the non-Pashtuns under the Northern Alliance.
However, in ranks of Afghanistan’s national government, which is supposed to be a unity administration, two camps, one led by Ashraf Ghani and the other by Abdullah Abdullah, are engaged in ongoing political rifts. When the Shiite and Tajik leaders like Abdullah Abdullah, Atta Muhammad Nur, Sallahaddin Rabbani, Muhammad Mohaqiq, Abdul Rashid Dostum were under the Northern Alliance, the northern parts were safe.
But after assumption of power by Ashraf Ghani, the Northern Alliance went through fragmentation as the US took measures to break down the coalition. Now serious rifts are hitting the leadership of Jamayat-E-Islami, a leading party of the Northern Alliance, over who will lead the party and how should it arrange its political stances. Abdullah and Muhammad Nur, both leaders of the alliance, are at odds, and General Dostum has left the country after threats of prosecution. The same division could hit the Shiites. This is what the governments of Ashraf Ghani and Pakistan take advantage of as they seek dragging the violence to north from south and southeast. Always accused of backing Taliban, Islamabad struggles to transfer Taliban fighters to northern regions under the cover of rise of ISIS terrorist group, a move could help Pakistani leaders ease the mounting international pressures.
On the other side, the national dialogue is overshadowed by disunity inside the Northern Alliance, as well as the recent attack. The blast killed at least 140 military personnel to build pressures on Atta Muhammad Nur and deal a blow to his popularity in north, not to mention the fact that it ruined the prospects for peace negotiations and possible recognition of Taliban as a political party on the country’s political scene.
The attack also was consistent with the American objective of trying to paint Afghanistan conditions critical to justify the military stay in the country. While the US claimed that it dropped its biggest non-nuclear bomb— Mother of All Bombs (MOAB)— on a mountainous area of Achin district of Nangarhar province to deter ISIS fighters there, some sources inside Afghanistan dismissed such allegation, insisting that the huge explosion happened in a mine in the area. So the notion that the US presence in Afghanistan is for battling Taliban and ISIS looks quite simplistic and disconnected from reality, according to the analysts.
Therefore, with the present circumstances remaining standing, the outlook for successful peace talks is gloomy at best. Russia held a conference on peace in Afghanistan on April 14. The conference brought together 12 countries including Afghanistan, Russia, India, China, Pakistan, Iran, and the Central Asian countries. But the US, also invited, skipped the meeting. Snubbing the meeting, the experts argue, Washington meant to signal its discontent with Russian entry to Afghanistan case. Indeed, whenever the peace talks take a real course, terrorist attacks begin striking across the country.
The recent suicide attacks by Taliban have blackened any prospects for peace in the country. The experts say that the state of insecurity will last in Afghanistan at least for next decade, with prospects of intensification. The northern parts of the country will represent a launching pad for terrorist groups to destabilize the Central Asia, where ISIS will possibly head to in next steps. ISIS in the Central Asia will not be that of Syria and Iraq, rather, the local radical groups of the region will re-purpose under ISIS name for a new mission.
On the other side, according to US-Afghanistan security pact the American forces will remain in the war-ravaged country at least until 2024, should the instability lingers. It looks pretty natural that Washington will fuel destabilization to guarantee presence in Afghanistan. If the Americans stay in Afghanistan for next decade, their military bases will be a permanent establishment there. The outcome will be further corruption and violence the plight of which will be borne by the Afghans themselves.
from Instituto Manquehue - rss http://ift.tt/2pzSRe5