The fear of escalation of Afghan war

Sunday, 07 January 2018 03:36 Written by  Heart of Asia Read 1113 times

2018 is expected to be a tough year for Afghanistan as the war will most likely intensify. The International Crisis Group (ICG) has said in a report that US airstrikes against Taliban will mount as per President Donald Trump’s new strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia, allowing Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) to go on the offensive. The report adds that while Afghan officials stress the new military push against the insurgents is aimed at dragging them to the negotiation table, the new US strategy is almost completely driven by military options, meaning that the settlement of the Afghan conflict through political dialogue no longer is a priority. 


Afghan and American officials use the Taliban’s refusal to enter peace talks with Afghan government as a justification for Trump’s new policy, a position that apparently makes the use of force against militants as the only workable option. Their reasoning comes as a similar strategy pursued by former US president Barrack Obama failed, and the US-led coalition could not force the Taliban to the negotiating table with the help of over 150,000 foreign troops, as well as tremendous financial resources and superior airpower. So how a tenth of that strong force and limited resources can achieve that goal while the tide of the Afghan war has largely been turned in the favor of Taliban who control more territory ever since their fall, and have also secured the support of other regional countries, including Russia, in addition to their traditional backer, Pakistan. Though Moscow has rejected providing military support to the Taliban, it, together with Tehran which has a history of hostility towards the Taliban when they were in control of Afghanistan, is trying to back the movement diplomatically.     

The only thing that somehow has changed in American stance on Pakistan is the pressure by the new US administration, yet Washington doesn’t wield the same enormous influence it had over Islamabad during the Bush and Obama administrations. It is the same scenario as that of the Taliban. Pakistan has found new allies in the region it can use to fill the vacuum that may be created if deserted by the US. Another problem is that Pakistan can make up for the steps the United States has so far taken against it -- the suspension of aid. Finding an alternative solution to US assistance is possible for Islamabad so there is a need for irreplaceable ways of pressure on Pakistan. 

The political settlement of Afghan conflict is the end-result of all the scenario, so the sooner that approach is pursued, the more the blood and treasure will be saved. 



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