By Victor Mikhin

Are they going to leave anytime soon?

The Khaama Press Agency reports that Taliban radicals have sent an open letter to United States President Donald Trump, in which the U.S. is accused of destroying Afghanistan. According to their version, the Pentagon operation against Osama bin Laden brought only grief to the inhabitants of the country, turning Afghanistan into one of the worst states in terms of security, and having virtually destroyed the Afghan economy. As the letter states, the so-called anti-terrorist operation of the United States against Osama bin Laden was not only misguided and unhelpful, but fully and completely destroyed the lives of almost all the people in the region. The authors of the letter believe that the fate of the U.S. policy in Afghanistan is doomed.

It may be recalled that the war in Afghanistan was unleashed by former US President George W. Bush, Jr., then continued by Barack Obama, contrary to his earlier-made campaign promises. Current head of the White House, US President Donald Trump, has found himself “back at the bottom of the ladder.” Referring to the American policy in the region, many politicians believe that in light of the repeated appeals to the United States authorities for the withdrawal of its troops, the U.S. can be considered the “losing superpower.” As is known, the occupation of Afghanistan was launched in 2001 by the United States under the so-called anti-terrorist operation against the Taliban radical movement and the Al Qaeda terrorist group. Then, in 2015, the status of the combat operation was changed to a non-combat mission, which was not at all different from the military operations, and brought only misery and misfortune to ordinary Afghans.

Washington is thus well aware of the dismal and ultimate failure of its own policy in Afghanistan. In this regard, on July 19, US President Donald Trump called on the Pentagon leadership to replace the commander of the armed forces in Afghanistan in connection with the ineffectiveness of the Afghan mission, even though just a few months earlier, he had granted the department the right to decide on sending additional troops to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (IRA). 

However, the U.S. military leadership came to the defense of the commander of the troops in the IRA, General John Nicholson. Moreover, the military itself accused the administration and Mr. Trump personally that not only were they failing to identify clear targets for the American troops, but they did not even have any plan for Washington’s policy in Afghanistan. This falls fully in line with the current reality, for, at the moment, Washington is still expected to adopt a new strategy for the IRA, the official submission of which has been postponed for several months already.

The White House is currently considering the possibility of hiring private security companies to serve in Afghanistan, thus effectively replacing the U.S. civil servants with them. In an interview with the media, Founder of Blackwater USA, Eric Prins, reported that 5,500 mercenaries, mostly former special forces officers, could be deployed to Afghanistan as part of the proposed initiative. Not only is the staff of the PSC expected to oversee the training of the Afghan police force, but the plans for the mission also include the use of 90 private aircrafts to provide support in combat operations.

According to Eric Prince, contracting mercenaries will cost Washington about USD10 billion a year. However, this statement is completely at variance with the words of “experienced manager” Donald Trump on cost savings and the shifting of all expenses to the shoulders of others, that is, the destitute Afghan treasury. The memories of the “heroic acts” of the Blackwater mercenaries in Iraq, who shamelessly shot at innocent Iraqis and then avoided the punishment they rightfully deserved and were evacuated home, are also far from being irrelevant.

In such a difficult situation, the well-known John McCain then unexpectedly appeared on the foreground of Afghan politics. Now the “go-to specialist” on the IRA, Chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services, John McCain, presented his own strategy for Afghanistan. In particular, he suggested that emphasis should be placed on anti-terrorist activities and the further armament of American troops, particularly the air force, to combat anti-government groups. To that end, in accordance with his plan, additional combat units should be sent to the IRA. The Senator proposed limiting the presence of the military instructors involved in the training of Afghan law-enforcement officers to 600 employees. He also intends to present his plan as an amendment to the National Defence Act in September, at the end of the parliamentary recess. The endorsement of this initiative by the Congress is expected to act as the hard proof of the commitment of the United States to a long-term military mission in Afghanistan.

Undoubtedly, the United States President’s own response to the “McCain Plan” will answer the question of what decisions Washington will take with respect to its future strategy in Afghanistan, together with the future policy of the U.S. in the entire Middle East region. Either Donald Trump will follow the advice of his senator, which will mean a further increase of United States troops in the region, or a comprehensive program to combat terrorist activities, including a vigorous campaign against the expansion of the Afghan drug cartel, will be developed.

It is worth recalling that at the moment, there are about 8,400 American military personnel in Afghanistan who are engaged in combat operations no one knows against whom. For instance, sixteen representatives of the Afghan security forces and two other policemen were injured in the recent air strike by the United States, which was agreed with the Pentagon, in the vicinity of the Helmand Province.  Such is the grim Afghan reality that Washington has created through its inept actions. It is only natural that none of the United States commanders will be punished, because, apparently, Afghans are not Americans, who are the people of the highest race. As they say, the American lumberjacks are hacking the forest, and Afghan splinters are flying. Who cares anyway?

In 2001, the Americans promised that they would make Afghanistan a country that would be an example and a model for other states in the region. Today however, 16 years have passed, and we are witnessing the total collapse of state administration in the IRA. The situation shows that the state structures of the country are operating uncoordinated and inefficiently, and that the rule of law has been destroyed, and many see the only way to overcome the current situation only in light of separatist tendencies.

It is no surprise that international public opinion considers the United States campaign in Afghanistan to be an utter failure and is advising the United States to withdraw its contingent from a country that is already part of a world incubator of international terrorism and has a negative impact on the entire situation in the Middle East region.

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