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World Opinion: What critics of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan get wrong

04:15  18 may  2021
04:15  18 may  2021 Source:   cnn.com

US exit from Afghanistan leaves progress, anxiety in its wake: Reporter's Notebook

  US exit from Afghanistan leaves progress, anxiety in its wake: Reporter's Notebook After nearly 20 years, the U.S. is leaving behind uncertainty in Afghanistan. A little over two months earlier, al-Qaida terrorists had attacked America, bringing bloodshed and tragedy to a shocked nation. The orders for the Sept. 11 attack had come from a land-locked, central Asian country that few outside elite intelligence and political circles were aware of and even fewer could locate on a map. The old hands knew Afghanistan though, it's where they'd helped mujahedeen fighters deal a crushing and humiliating blow to the dwindling might of the Soviet Red Army.

Matthew Hoh writes that criticism of the planned US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan gnores how truly counterproductive the war there has been. The views expressed here are his own. Read more opinion at CNN. Second, when the US first invaded Afghanistan , al Qaeda counted around 400

Top Republican: US should delay Afghanistan withdrawal 01:06. Charles A. Kupchan is a professor of international affairs at Georgetown University and a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relation. He served as special assistant to the President for national security affairs from 2014 to 2017 and is the The Afghan intelligence service and special forces are today among the best in the region and able to operate routinely without US help. And, of course, the United States will always be able to strike terrorist targets in Afghanistan from bases outside the country. The civil and political landscape of

tWithin hours of President Joe Biden's announcement that US forces will leave Afghanistan by September 11, 2021, objections and remonstrations appeared across US media. These protests are nearly all disingenuous, false and specious, and meant to utilize fear to continue a tragic and purposeless war.

a group of people in uniform sitting in a field: BAGHRAN VALLEY, AFGHANISTAN - FEBRUARY 19: U.S. soldiers guard the Baghran Valley where Taliban and possibly al Qaeda have been sighted during © David Swanson/Pool/Getty Images BAGHRAN VALLEY, AFGHANISTAN - FEBRUARY 19: U.S. soldiers guard the Baghran Valley where Taliban and possibly al Qaeda have been sighted during "Operation Viper" February 19, 2003 in the Baghran Valley, Afghanistan. "Operation Viper", an operation to search from village to village for weapons and signs of Taliban and al Qaeda sympathizers, is expected to last three weeks. (Photo by David Swanson-Pool/Getty Images)

Much of the argument against withdrawal ignores how truly counterproductive the war in Afghanistan has been. Consider just two facts: In the years prior to the US invasion in 2001, Afghanistan and Pakistan were home to four international terror groups. Now, the Pentagon testifies that the number of such terror groups has grown to 20 or more

US trashes unwanted gear in Afghanistan, sells as scrap

  US trashes unwanted gear in Afghanistan, sells as scrap BAGRAM, Afghanistan (AP) — The twisted remains of several all-terrain vehicles leaned precariously inside Baba Mir’s sprawling scrapyard, alongside smashed shards that were once generators, tank tracks that have been dismantled into chunks of metal, and mountains of tents reduced to sliced up fabric. It’s all U.S. military equipment. The Americans are dismantling their portion of nearby Bagram Air Base, their largest remaining outpost in Afghanistan, and anything that they are not taking home or giving to the Afghan military, they destroy as completely as possible.

America’s pending withdrawal from Afghanistan is a tactical, strategic retreat. In the scope of the near 20 years the NATO coalition has been in the country, the incentives to be there have changed. The conflict itself and American entry marked the opening of the ‘war on terror’, an epoch of US All the better for Washington if the problem of Afghanistan then becomes China’s. A potential resurgence of the Taliban will proliferate instability and attacks into neighbouring Pakistan and subsequently pose challenges for CPEC, a grand infrastructure project which connects China’s Xinjiang to the Indian

The United States invaded Afghanistan in October 2001, just weeks after Al Qaeda carried out the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on American soil. The initial mission was to oust Al Qaeda and prevent it from using Afghanistan as a haven to launch another attack on the United States — an objective that The February 2020 deal between the United States and the Taliban laid out the conditions and timeline under which the United States would withdraw from Afghanistan . But what was asked in return, such as taking counterterrorism measures and starting talks with the Afghan government, in some cases

Second, when the US first invaded Afghanistan, al Qaeda counted around 400 total members worldwide. Al Qaeda has since spawned branches and offshoots -- including the Islamic State -- in dozens of countries, with total memberships in the tens of thousands, and have, at times, controlled entire cities in multiple countries.

This, of course, applies throughout the context of US military operations and not just in Afghanistan. For example, in 2009, more than a year after the US military established Africa Command (AFRICOM) there were less than 300 terror attacks in Africa. In 2020, with US commandos, drones and troops in nearly two dozen African countries, the Africa Center for Strategic Studies found that there were almost 5,000 attacks.

America departs Afghanistan as China arrives

  America departs Afghanistan as China arrives While Biden’s address on ending forever wars comes as a breath of fresh air in Washington, Americans have shed too much blood, sweat and tears over the last two decades to hand over the hard fought gains on a platter to either the Taliban, China, or both. In the event that China or/and the Taliban gain primacy in the region, it would be America's vital Indo-Pacific partner and the world's largest democracy, India, in peril. And as an extension, the U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy with India will shift its resources to its Western border with Pakistan.

The United States also provides Afghanistan with a critical .8 billion in assistance per year, which funds 80 percent [PDF] of the Afghan government’s security expenditures. withdraw U . S . forces as scheduled by May 1; cite Taliban violations as justification for pulling out of the accord and maintaining an indefinite U . S . military presence; or, ask the Taliban for an extension of the withdrawal deadline, citing the Taliban’s violations and delays in peace talks between the militant group and the Afghan government.

The US decision to leave Afghanistan without any conditions represents a political victory for those in the US government who sought an end to the nearly two-decade conflict in that nation. Haspel strongly opposed Trump’s withdrawal plan and worked with the Pentagon to prevent its full implementation. With Haspel gone, and Burns in as director, the CIA’s objections, like those of the US military, have been pushed aside in favor of the domestic political imperative recognized by Biden that whatever national security gains that might be accrued by remaining in Afghanistan could not offset

These numbers show that the world war that has cruelly raged this century from the western coast of Africa through to Pakistan is motivated and sustained by local forces who oppose foreign presence, as well as predation and disenfranchisement by corrupt, illegitimate and, often, sectarian governments.

Yes, jihadist Islamist groups headline these wars, but the reality is, whether it be in Africa, the Middle East or Central Asia, 70-90% of insurgents fight not for religion or ideology but against what they view as occupation or oppression.

The US government knew this early in the Iraq War. As a US Marine officer in Iraq, and while working on the Iraq desk at the State Department, the intelligence was clear, to me and to anyone who took the time to read the classified transcripts and summaries of interrogations of Iraqi insurgents -- that those insurgents were fighting us simply because we were occupying Iraq. These wars are catastrophes of our own making.

'Entire Country' Believes Taliban is Behind Girls' School Bombing in Afghanistan, Expert Says

  'Entire Country' Believes Taliban is Behind Girls' School Bombing in Afghanistan, Expert Says At least 50 people have died and more than 100 have been injured in the May 8 bombings, though an expert at the U.S. Institute of Peace said those numbers are likely to tick higher."They can deny it as much as they want, but the reality is that the entire country believes that it's the Taliban who are behind these attacks," said Belquis Ahmadi, a senior program officer at the United States Institute of Peace.

“ Afghanistan just does not rise to the level of those other threats at this point,” the person said. “That does not mean we ’re turning away from Afghanistan . We are going to remain committed to the government, remain committed diplomatically. But in terms of where we will be investing force Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, in a statement from his office, said he would have no comment until an upcoming phone call with Biden “to officially share details of the new withdrawal plan.” The senior official also said the Taliban was reminded of its commitments under the Trump deal and warned

The Pentagon announced Tuesday that the US has withdrawn from five bases in Afghanistan and reduced the size of its forces there as part of the agreement it entered into with the Taliban earlier this year.

The myth that terrorist groups need a safe haven continues even as the reality of the 9/11 attacks demonstrates that Afghanistan only played a minor role in the planning, preparation and training of the hijackers. The logistics for the attack were handled from Germany, where the leading members of the hijackers lived, while training and preparation occurred in Germany, Pakistan, Spain, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as Afghanistan

Some hijackers were in the US for longer than in Afghanistan, with a number in the US for 18 months. While in the country they received martial arts training alongside the most critical training at American flight schools: the simulator sessions that taught them how to fly passenger jets into buildings.

None of the hijackers were Afghans, most were Saudis, and, in spite of denials by the Saudi government, it's hard to believe that the attackers did not have the support of at least some in the Saudi monarchy -- a recipient of hundreds of billions of dollars of US weapons. The idea that Afghanistan is central to the needs of terror groups is preposterous and denies the nature of how these groups organize and operate.

The War on Terror after Afghanistan

  The War on Terror after Afghanistan Leaving a war that isn't over won't end the threat.That, however, is no longer Washington’s concern.

Comparisons of Afghanistan to the US withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 have been made to the US withdrawal from Vietnam, and these play on the hollow fear that a US exit from Afghanistan will result in a comeback of Islamic militant forces.

However, Islamic State's success in Iraq in 2014, culminating in its proclamation of it caliphate in Mosul, was not due to the absence of US forces in Iraq, but rather because of the Iraqi government's brutal treatment of the Sunni minority and, critically, the direct and indirect support of jihadist groups in Syria by the United States and its allies.

The US and its allies believed it could use the Islamic State, and other jihadist groups in Syria, in order to overthrow the Assad government.

The US also thought these jihadist groups would not cross the literal line in the sand that divides Syria and Iraq (Iraq being the country from which most of the Islamic State leadership came from through its predecessor al Qaeda in Iraq, which itself was created by the US invasion and occupation). The Obama administration decided it could control the Islamic State for its own purposes. The result was a disaster for Iraq, Syria and US interests.

The idea that Kabul will resemble Saigon in 1975, with helicopters leaving from the roof of the US Embassy, is a favorite among war apologists. This, too, is specious fearmongering. The Taliban, of course, want power, but they are not suicidal.

As U.S. leaves Afghanistan, extremists pick the softest targets

  As U.S. leaves Afghanistan, extremists pick the softest targets Afghan National Security Advisor says the Taliban have many enemies in the country, which may explain why insurgents are striking "where we're weakest." Afghanistan's government blamed the Taliban, which denied any involvement in the attack. The part of Kabul where the attack happened, home to many ethnic Hazara Shiite Muslims, has been targeted frequently by the ISIS branch in Afghanistan, including other attacks on schools.

They clearly understand a violent takeover of Kabul, in a manner similar to the Islamic State's takeover of Mosul or al Qaeda's takeover of Aleppo, will result in Kabul being devastated by foreign air forces, just as occurred in Afghanistan in 2001, and in multiple Iraqi and Syrian cities in addition to Mosul and Aleppo from 2014-2017. That is not an outcome the Taliban could want.

This is the first formal peace process in Afghanistan in over 30 years in a war whose violence preceded the Soviet Union's invasion in 1979. And this process is dependent upon foreign forces leaving Afghanistan. Regardless of whether the 2,500 acknowledged US troops leave Afghanistan, a US withdrawal will not leave a dearth of American firepower in the region.

At least some of the unacknowledged special operations personnel -- numbering at least 1,000, according to the New York Times -- and the CIA officers who oversee an Afghan strike force could retain a presence in the country. The US also has dozens of squadrons of manned attack aircraft and drones stationed on land bases and on aircraft carriers, as well as hundreds of cruise missiles on ships and submarines, in the region.

However, the planned withdrawal will pave the way for the negotiations that the Afghan people need and deserve after so many decades of suffering.

Violence, as we have known since ancient times, has only proven to be counterproductive and exponentially destructive. The only option forward for Afghanistan, its neighbors and the world, is a peace negotiated by the Afghans, for the Afghans, and protected by an agreement by outside powers to stop the decadeslong foreign interference and intervention in the country's affairs.

a screen shot of a person: Matthew Hoh © Provided by CNN Matthew Hoh

House Committees Grill U.S. Envoy Over Taliban Control in Post-U.S. Afghanistan .
Congressional lawmakers raised concerns with Washington's special envoy to Afghanistan in hearings this week about the future of the war-torn country with a resurgent Taliban and U.S. troops withdrawn. © WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images Onlookers stand next to a pile of backpacks and books of victims following multiple blasts outside a girls' school in Dasht-e-Barchi on the outskirts of Kabul on May 8, 2021. Rep.

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