Afghan weekly review

20th August - 27th August

Political Developments / Events

Rising tensions among prominent Afghan political leaders amid deteriorating security

The tensions among Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the emir of Hezb-e-Islami, and Atta Mohammad Noor, the chief executive of Jamiat-e-Islami intensified during the recent days and particularly after the arrest of Balkh provincial council member Asif Momand.  Atta Noor in his statement slammed Hekmatyar for his discriminatory remarks regarding the Ahmad Shah Massoud and Punjsher.

The governor accused Hekmatyar of sparking tensions and divisions among the people based on geographical locations, skin color, and the languages they speak.

Trump's Afghan policy praised in Kabul but leaves Pakistan wary

Donald Trump’s new strategy for the war in Afghanistan has been praised by Afghan government officials for increasing troop numbers, doing away with strict timelines and for increasing pressure on Pakistan, which Kabul sees as a main sponsor of the insurgency.

Pakistani security officials have accused the US president of shifting blame for its failures in the war against the Taliban and other armed groups in Afghanistan, and of endangering the already fraught bilateral relations between Washington and Islamabad.

Taliban ‘to turn Afghanistan into US graveyard’

The Taliban says it will turn Afghanistan into a “graveyard” for the United States following Washington’s announcement that it will continue the occupation and raise the force levels.

“If America doesn’t withdraw its troops from Afghanistan, soon Afghanistan will become another graveyard for this superpower in the 21st century,” Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a statement.

Mujahid also urged the US to think of an exit strategy “instead of continuing the war” on Afghanistan.

Karzai says he strongly opposes the new strategy for Afghanistan

The former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said he strongly opposes the new strategy of the United States for Afghanistan and Central Asia.

Karzai “The strategy excludes bringing peace and prosperity to Afghanistan and is focused on more war and rivalry in the region. U.S. must seek peace and stability in Afghanistan rather than extending conflict and bloodshed in Afghanistan and the region.”

New US strategy an opportunity for Pakistan to review its old approach: President Ghani

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has said the new strategy by the United States for the South Asia is yet another opportunity for Pakistan to review its old regional approach, specifically the country’s approach towards Afghanistan.

President Ghani further added that the ongoing violence in Afghanistan has regional roots as well as roots to the international violence.

Taliban a criminal organization, cannot win on battlefield: Gen. Nicholson

The commander of the US forces for Afghanistan and the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission General John Nicholson has said the Taliban are a criminal organization as he insisted that the group cannot win on the battlefield.

He said “Taliban have a simple choice: Stop fighting against your countrymen. Stop killing innocent civilians. Stop bringing hardship and misery.”

Surrendered Taliban leader speaks of foreign intelligence role in Afghan violence

A Taliban leader who has just joined the peace process with his fighters in eastern Nangarhar province has unveiled the role of the foreign intelligence in the ongoing violence in the country.

The Taliban leader, Amir Khan famous as Zangal Pacha stated that they were receiving specific instructions from the intelligence agencies to carry out target killings of tribal elders besides carrying out attacks on public welfare projects including schools.

He did not specifically name of any foreign intelligence agency involved in sparking violence in the country but the Afghan officials have long been blaming the Inter-Services Intelligence of Pakistan for the violence in the country.

General Dostum welcomes announcement of new US strategy for Afghanistan

The First Vice President of Afghanistan General Abdul Rashid Dostum welcomed the announcement of the new strategy by the United States for Afghanistan and South Asia.

“ I welcome President Trump’s new strategy. Now, it is time for real reform within the National Unity Government and constitution to guarantee our success,” the First Vice President said.

Ex-Afghan intelligence chief welcomes new US strategy and approach towards Pakistan

The former chief of the Afghan intelligence, national directorate of security, Rahmatullah Nabil welcomed the new strategy and approach by the United States towards Pakistan as part of its strategy for South Asia.

“ We support the new US strategy that commits to support the Afghan people, continue to support ANDSF and speaking loud and clear about Pakistan’s deceiving strategy supporting terrorist groups and offering them safe havens. We will wait for implementation,” he said.

Nabil has long been criticizing the Pakistani military, specifically the Inter-Services Intelligence for supporting the Afghan militant groups, including the notorious Haqqani terrorist network.

New political coalition seeks broader role as US announces new strategy

The new political coalition consisting leaders of Junbish-e-Millie, Jamiat-e-Islami, and Wahdat Islami parties are seeking broader role for the implementation of the new US policy for Afghanistan.

The new political coalition informed regarding its existence nearly three months ago and comprises of General Abdul Rashid Dostum, Ata Mohammad Noor, Mohammad Mohaqiq, and Salahudddin Rabbani.

Security/Terrorist Activities and Developments

Taliban assault in Afghanistan’s Jawzjan province

Taliban militants launched an attack in the northern Afghan province of Jawzjan, attempting to run over the district headquarters and setting off heavy fighting.

In his remarks, Turkistani the police chief said that in recent days the militants had gained control of several villages nearby.

Some unconfirmed reports claim that the Taliban have seized control of the Khamab district headquarters, Jawzjan province.

Clashes in Maidan Wardak province resulted, 15 Taliban insurgents dead and wounded

At least eight Taliban insurgents were killed and six others were wounded during the clashes, the statement said, adding that a Rocket Propelled Grenade launcher, two of its rockets, and several other types of military equipment were confiscated by the security forces.

Drone strike targets ISIS hideouts in Nangarhar, leaving 4 militants dead

The US forces based in Afghanistan pounded the hideouts of the ISIS militants in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, leaving at least four militants dead.

Nangarhar is among the relatively calm provinces in eastern Afghanistan but the anti-government armed militant groups have recently increased their insurgency activities in some parts of the province during the recent years.

Taliban bombing in Helmand leads to casualties, conflicting claims appeared

At least five people have been killed and over 2 dozen wounded when a car bomb exploded at a police headquarters in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand Province.

“A … bomber detonated an explosive-filled car in a parking lot near the main police headquarters in Lashkargah,” the Taliban militant group claiming the responsibility for the bombing.

Another media house reported that nearly 50 are dead and wounded as suicide attack rocks Lashkargah city in Helmand

Coordinated Taliban attacks repulsed in Nuristan, 30 militants killed, wounded

The Afghan security forces repulsed coordinated attacks by the Taliban insurgents in eastern Nuristan province of Afghanistan, leaving nearly 30 militants dead or wounded.

The 201st Silab Corps of the Afghan National Army (ANA) forces in a statement said the Taliban insurgents launched a coordinated attack on the security posts in Nurgeram district late on Wednesday night. The statement further added that at least 8 militants were killed and 15 others were wounded during the clashes.

Explosion in Kabul city leaves one wounded

The Ministry of Interior spokesman Najib Danish confirmed the incident and said a magnetic bomb planted in a Land Cruiser type vehicle went off at around 7:30 pm local time.

Kabul mosque attack, over 50 dead, wounded

Over fifty people including women, children, and security personnel were killed or wounded in a coordinated attack on a mosque in Kabul city Friday afternoon.

At least ten civilians including women and children, a personnel of the Afghan police Special Forces, and two personnel of the public order police forces were among those killed.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group’s offshoot in Afghanistan, ISIS Khorasan, claimed responsibility of the deadly attack on a mosque in Kabul city.

4 Uzbek ISIS militants blown up by own explosives in North of Afghanistan

The incident took place as the militants were busy in the making of an improvised explosive device. The anti-government armed militant groups have not commented regarding the report.

Airstrikes target Taliban insurgents in Helmand

A series of airstrikes targeted the Taliban insurgents in at least two districts of the restive Helmand province in the South, leaving several fighters of the group dead.

The 215th Maiwand Corps of the Afghan Army in the South General Nawab Zadran confirmed the airstrikes were carried out in the outskirts of Lashkargah city and in Nawa district.

The airstrikes were carried out jointly by the Afghan and foreign forces based in the country.

Key members of a terrorist group killed in Kunar airstrike

At least two key members of a terrorist group were killed in an airstrike in eastern Kunar province of Afghanistan on Saturday.

The US-Forces Afghanistan last month confirmed the death of four senior advisers of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria-Khorasan in a strike that also killed the ISIS-Khurasan emir Abu Sayid in Kunar province July 11, 2017.

According to the US Forces in Afghanistan, the four eliminated ISIS-Khurasan leaders were confirmed as: Sheik Ziaullah, the ISIS-Khurasan emir of religion; Mulavi Hubaib, the senior commander in Watahpur Valley; Haji Shirullah, an ISIS- commander and former Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin commander; and Assadullah, a senior ISIS- shura member and a close associate of Abu Sayid.

Views

US Policy

Under the policy the Trump administration is raising the troop’s levels and will engage them in counter terrorism operations. The policy towards Pakistan in Afghan context is the most talked and criticized/ supported. President Ghani, vice president Dostum, ex intelligence chief Nabil and many others have hailed the Pakistan bashing attitude of the US president, stating that will yield positive results, ex Afghan president Karzai criticized the policy of dragging war rather than making efforts towards peace. Taliban also raised concern on the fresh policy of rise in troops rather than draw down and warned the American that there will be more bloodshed if the US does not look beyond muscle flexing.       

Trump new dictates for Afghanistan is not surprising as was indicative for past few weeks, however it definitely is surprising when it comes to Trump initial statements and tabulated policy of ending war in Afghanistan and taking the forces out. Bringing peace through military might is not an answer to the long standing Afghan crisis, this has to be understood and followed by the CIA and the Pentagon.

Trump looking at resolve through blaming and threatening Pakistan is not likely to yield positive results rather it may lead to further distancing from Pakistan, which must be kept in view while implementing the stated policy of military might. Pakistan has done enough yet continues to suffer from Afghan instability, beside Pakistan is trying and initiating steps like border fencing and military operations to manage control.

General Nicholson statement is not a wise worded view of stating Taliban as criminals, the US has to get out of the bad mindset and look at the ground realities of resolving the long standing dispute rather extending for another unending period.

Political Divide

Political divisions within Afghan power corridors have contributed towards atmosphere of mistrust, bad governance, lack of development, flawed policy and corruption. The Unity government, orchestrated by the US, has failed to lead Afghanistan towards peace and stability besides economic prosperity or development. The recent episode of Atta Noor and Gul Badin is indicative of the divide and trust levels. The Afghan political society is fractured on ethnic lines and will remain such owing to historic and tribal diversities.

Security Developments/Situation

During the week under review, there were series of incidents involving armed clashes, aerial bombing, explosions and attempts by Taliban for control of areas. The hype in insecurity is alarming and worrisome as the sixteen years efforts are not leading towards peace in Afghanistan and the region.

The warring factions are not thinking beyond fighting. Taliban continue to hurt state interests and have become more powerful over the years. Afghan leadership will have to think and make efforts towards resolve as decades long war has not contributed positively. Human losses are gruesome besides the economic, which is a serious matter for the leaders in Afghanistan and the US in specific and other in general.

Peace initiatives and talks have to take leading role instead of fighting and military might. The US attitude of resolving matter through killing the opponents will not end war rather will contribute towards insecurity and instability.

Taliban are striking all over, Jouzjan in north, Kunar in east, Helmond in south and Kabul the capital. No are in Afghanistan is safe and beyond Taliban reach, the affected are all, Taliban, Afghan security and above all the populace, the innocent civilians. The beneficiaries are obvious, those who gain militarily, politically and economically. It’s no more an Afghan war, it’s a regional and global.

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