first published on August 21, 2018 by Will
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani declared a three-month ceasefire with the Taliban, beginning this Sunday at the start of the Eid al-Adha Muslim holiday. However, the Taliban never had any intention of taking part in the pause of hostilities. To make that extremely clear to the world, they kidnapped 170 bus passengers and an additional 20 security personnel in Kunduz just one day after the hollow cease-fire was declared.
In contrast to the NATO Resolute Support press releases that continue to report that ‘everything is fine’ in Afghanistan, the security situation is anything but. The Taliban continue to wage concurrent successful multi front offensives against Afghan security forces across the nation.
That isn’t to say that the Taliban aren’t taking costly losses in the fighting. At least 102 militants including Mawlavi Matiullah, the military commission chief of the northern Taliban, have been killed in recent airstrikes in the northern Faryab province. However, those numbers were reported by the Afghan Army and are likely heavily inflated.
Additionally, the Faryab strikes came too late, well after the Taliban surrounded and laid siege to an Afghan Commando outpost for an entire week, forcing the commandos, who were out of ammo and water, to flee or surrender because no support came from the government.
So while the Taliban are eventually being beaten back on these fronts, it’s important to understand that they are only being repelled after American forces are called in to augment the ANA and develop targets for American strike aircraft, which just further solidifies the point that after nearly two decades of assistance and support, the Afghan National Army cannot stand on its own.
It is easy to point out that Afghan Forces, with exceptions, are simply untrainable and wholly incompetent. That is a solid truth regardless of how many NATO spokesmen parrot “great improvement” and “self sufficient” talking points. The further damning reality is that Afghanistan, in general, is a logistical nightmare that challenged even our own multinational combined force of the most technologically advanced militaries in the world. We are now imposing the same near-impossible expectations on a third-world army that even we couldn’t fulfill during the height of the surge in Afghanistan.
This current call for a ceasefire is a desperate attempt by the government to allow themselves breathing room to consolidate and reorganize. Asking for three months is no different than asking for seven, considering that the ceasefire would expire during the winter lull in which massive military operations are nearly impossible to facilitate (for both sides) due to the inhospitable combination of climate and terrain. It appears that the Afghan government is crossing its fingers in hopes that it can survive until winter. A ceasefire would not benefit the Taliban in any way. The Taliban have the momentum and they know it.
The Resolute Support command seems to be putting all of its chips into ‘bringing the Taliban to the bargaining table’ and patting themselves on the back for whatever pointless and hollow agreements are made, followed by a photo op with signatures and handshakes. The plan appears to be to hand Afghanistan’s people over to the Taliban’s strict enforcement of Sharia Law while telling Western mainstream media: “Mission Complete.”