“In summary the situation in Afghanistan is an imminent catastrophe”

“There has never been a military solution for Afghanistan, there is none today and never will be. This was proven by the 14 year long war of NATO at the Hindu Kush. The social fabric of Afghanistan has been destroyed to its core. It is high time to replace war by peace politics.”

“In summary the situation in Afghanistan is an imminent catastrophe”

by Dr Matin Baraki*

After the end of the Soviet Union US imperialism declared itself to be the only super power and claimed the whole region of Eurasia as Grand chessboard to which it demanded unlimited access as their sphere of interest. This defined what future imperialist wars would be aiming for. Afghanistan became the first victim of this aggression. The war against Afghanistan had been planned as early as nine months before 11 September 2001, as revealed by the “Washington Post”. 11 September only provided the pretext. Had it not happened the way it did the war mongers would have had to invent it. Starting 7 October 2001 the US army bombed the country at the Hindu Kush. Within 4 weeks the Taliban regime had been toppled. The neocons around George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld wanted to proceed with their “Greater Middle East” (GME) strategy as early as possible. This GME strategy means that the region from North Africa up to Bangladesh should be brought under the control of the USA.
The success of the US army at the Hindu Kush opened the gates for the war against Iraq which started in 2003. However, when George W. Bush declared “mission accomplished” for the war in Iraq the Taliban were already back in full action at the Hindu Kush. Resistance against the occupiers gained momentum in Iraq, too. Already then the US imperial power reached its limits. The greater Middle East is just different from South America where the US had been able to do as it pleased them for centuries.
Up to 150,000 soldiers have been deployed in the US lead NATO operations at the Hindu Kush over the last 14 years. Resistance, usually summarised under the term “Taliban”, could be subdued temporarily but never smashed completely. Quite to the contrary, shortly after the German army had left the Northern provincial capital of Kunduz was conquered by the Islamist resistance on 28 September 2015; this meant a threefold defeat for the administration in Kabul and for the NATO occupation: politically, morally and militarily.  
Politically, because the occupiers were despised by the Afghan population who seemed to prefer the Taliban rule. Morally, because the Afghan administration is viewed to be just the poodle of the US and the NATO soldiers are accused to have murdered thousands of Afghan civilians. Militarily, because NATO did not succeed to stabilise the country with up to 150,000 soldiers in 14 years of war. A recent classified document of the German ministry of foreign affairs states “severe security problems and human rights violations” at the Hindu Kush.
The bombardment of a hospital run by “Médecins Sans Frontiéres” (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) by the US occupants on 28 September 2015 which killed several doctors and patients who were burned in their beds, will be remembered in the annals of Afghan history just like so many previous crimes of the US and NATO occupants. MSF refers to the incident as a  “war crime”.
On 8 december 2015 the Taliban raided the airport of Kandahar about 16 kilometres outside the city and took hostages, as the press officer of the Kandahar provincial governor, Samim Chpalwak, reported. According to his account the long lasting fights concentrated on the military sections of the airport, where the US army headquarters are situated. “martyrs” apparently managed to break into the airport compound “equipped with light and heavy weapons” and attacked the “invasion troops” as the Taliban declared. The fights lasted for 27 hours and claimed 61 lives, including the eleven intruders, press agencies afp and dpa reported from Kabul. Afterwards the commander of the Afghan intelligence service, Rahmatollah Nabil, resigned. Now Afghans on both sides continue to die for the strategic aims of the occupiers.
According to a “Security situation outlook 2016” report issued by the German army, another Taliban offensive at the Hindu Kush is likely to be launched after the winter pause. The report refers to the military stand of the Taliban as “increasingly successful” since they could co-ordinate their actions “more effectively” and show up in bigger numbers. At the same time it warns against an imminent collapse of the Afghan law enforcement capacities, which had been supported among others by the German army themselves. Therefore, an end to the permanent military problems of NATO in Afghanistan is not to be expected soon.
While the number of NATO troops will be increased again to a total of about 12,000, including 10,000 soldiers from the US and 980 from Germany (850 had been planned before) this will probably not stabilise the situation at the Hindu Kush. When Kunduz was occupied by the Taliban it became clear that the Afghan forces are reluctant to fight them unless NATO training personnel are present. Both nationally and internationally the administration in Kabul has slipped into a legitimacy crisis. It is on the verge of collapse. Apart from the Taliban, another armed coalition called “Schora-e Harasat wa Subat Afghanistan” (Council for the perpetuation and steadfastness of Afghanistan) was established by Islamist warlords who had not been invited to participate when posts were offered by the administration, people like Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, the most atrocious war criminal and ideologue of Saudi Wahhabism, Mohammad Junus Qanuni warlord of the so-called Northern alliance, and Ismael Khan, warlord of the Western province of Herat. This further decreases the chances of reforms and reconciliation with the Taliban, condition for continued support of the Kabul administration by NATO and the German government. This warlord “council” does everything it can to prevent negotiations with the Taliban from happening. Reason being, that the Taliban have already announced they would disclose material against the corrupt warlords and politicians and prosecute them in case they were to join the administration.
Regardless of winter or summer season, the resistance is on the rise. In summary, the situation in Afghanistan may be referred to as an imminent catastrophe. While the Taliban rule the Southern Pashtun provinces, especially Helmand and Kandahar, more or less completely and are able to gain footholds in the North too, such as Kunduz, the Islamic State  (IS) is establishing itself in the two Eastern provinces of Nangarhar und Nuristan.
The president in Kabul, Ashraf Ghani, is weak and incapable to prevent the country from destabilizing further. The “Afghan National Army” (ANA) suffers heavy losses in the fight against the Taliban and the corrupt “Afghan National Police” (ANP) proves to be incompetent to control the cities and basically accepts no-go areas dominated by the Taliban in many Southern regions. Some provincial governors prefer not to show up in their assigned districts at all, but to stay in Kabul after being appointed.
Stopping the withdrawal of the troops as decided, by both the Obama administration and Germany, as well as the deployment of additional soldiers, will not suffice to prevent the catastrophe in Afghanistan. Nevertheless the Taliban won’t be able to march victoriously into Kabul, either. All they can achieve is a permanent instability by military assaults in any part of the country. This may be called a stalemate.  Neither nationally nor internationally the conditions are favorable for a Taliban coup d’etat at this point. Parts of the population, the NATO and the warlords will not tolerate this. On the other hand an agreement with the Taliban was supposed to offer an alternative to continued NATO presence.
Who wants to achieve peace and stability at the Hindu Kush should replace the NATO units by Islamic ones immediately, legitimised by a UN mandate. This could lay the foundations for an inner Afghan agreement and peace negotiations.
There has never been a military solution for Afghanistan, there is none today and never will be. This was proven by the 14 year long war of NATO at the Hindu Kush. The social fabric of Afghanistan has been destroyed to its core. It is high time to replace war by peace politics.     •

*    Matin Baraki is a German Afghan politologist and interpreter. After training to become e precision mechanic he studied education in Kabul and worked as a teacher. From 1970 to 1974 Baraki was technical assistent at the faculty of science at Kabul university. In 1974 he emigrated to Germany and achieved a doctorate at Philipps University Marburg. Afterwards he lectured as a politologist at the universities of Marburg, Giessen, Kassel and Münster.

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