The United States Air Force Special Operations Command carried out of a targeted strike against Islamic State positions in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province using the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB, or ‘Mother of All Bombs’) on Thursday. The use of the MOAB made the strike the largest non-nuclear bomb delivered by the U.S. military in combat and the third largest bomb used by the U.S. military overall, following up to the nuclear fission devices dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which delivered more than three orders of magnitude more explosive yield. The strike came days after the U.S. confirmed the death of a U.S. Special Forces soldier killed fighting the Islamic State in Nangarhar province though a U.S. military spokesperson told The Daily Beast the strike was not retaliatory.
On Friday, Russia held a regional conference to explore the prospects for settling the long-running Afghanistan conflict. This follows a similar conference that Moscow held in February, which was preceded by a tripartite meeting between Russia, China and Pakistan in December on the same subject.
The situation in Syria is changing rapidly due to the Trump administration’s intervention policy. Moscow termed the recent U.S. strike on Syria as a “significant blow to Russian-American relations” and hence suspended cooperation with the United States in Syria. Being a U.S. ally and strongly dependent upon on Washington’s aid, Kabul is becoming worried. As tensions rise in U.S.-Russia relations, the possibility of their cooperation in Afghanistan decreases. There is also a chance that Moscow will instead increase ties with the Taliban. If that happens, it will be an alarming sign for National Unity Government in Afghanistan, and probably be a game-changer in the Afghan political landscape.
The real war in Afghanistan is between the people and corrupt members of the ruling elite — in short, the kleptocrats. On March 27, the Afghan parliament summoned security officials over deteriorating security situation across the country only to show confidence in their ability to serve. This is not the first time the public officials have gotten away after brokering deals. This massive and ever powerful network of kleptocrats has jeopardized any prospects of enduring peace and economic prosperity in Afghanistan. The unprecedented level of corruption is a product of the last few decades of war and the injections of billions of dollars of aid without sufficient oversight, resulting in fractured state institutions.
Following the end of WWII, a new world order emerged with substantial impact on humanity, geopolitics, geo-economics, migration and, more critically, the birth of the never-ending Cold War. The WWII, which took approximately 30 million lives, was orchestrated by a democratically elected leader of Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler.
Afghanistan is suffering the worst of form of neighborhood with Pakistan in the history of diplomatic relation. The recent egregious attack on Sardar Mohammad Dawood Khan Hospital in the heartland which took the life of 50 civilians and injured more dozens in cold-blood is gut-wrenching and an awakening call for the Kabul Government and the global allies in the war against terrorism to re-engineer their war strategy in Afghanistan.
Trump should refuse to grant the request of Gen. Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command, for thousands of additional troops to be sent to Afghanistan. Indeed, Trump should announce that, true to his campaign promise, he will not continue the failed Bush-Obama policy of nation-building in Afghanistan.
It is winter in Afghanistan. The snow covers in white the glorious peaks of the country’s mountains and plains, but the smoke from wooden stoves pushes up, joining the clouds that are limiting the beauty of the view. To Afghans, their future is subjected to the same obstructions—a feeling that better and brighter days are coming is there, but daily struggles make them too difficult to truly envision.
In early March five Pakistani soldiers were killed in Taliban attacks on checkpoints along the border. The attacks followed a veritable massacre the previous week in the Afghan capital of Kabul, where near-simultaneous Taliban suicide bombings were followed by drawn-out shooting match Afghan security forces. The gruesome episode left at least 16 people dead and over 100 wounded.
The Taliban insurgency has entered its 16th year in Afghanistan, but their prospects for control of the country are as gloomy as they were when the group was toppled in 2001 by a U.S.-led international coalition for refusing to hand over Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.