Afghanistan’s Return To Carnage and America’s Most Devious “Forgotten War”

Today’s massive car bombing in central Kabul has already taken nearly 100 lives. This death toll is expected to rise within the coming hours. Today’s blast followed a large scale attack on the Inter-Continental Hotel Kabul where Taliban gunmen killed over 40 civilians.

The recent spike in terrorist attacks on mosques, central areas populated by Afghan civilians and areas where foreigners work and are housed, bears a direct relationship to Donald Trump’s “troop surge” which was announced in the Autumn of 2017.

While many well meaning anti-war activists state that the US policy in Afghanistan amounts to little more than “we’re there, because we’re there, because we’re there”, in reality there are far more sinister reasons for the continued US troop presence in Afghanistan. The reasons can be succinctly summarised as follows, in no particular order:

1. Attempt and prevent a much needed rapprochement between Pakistan and Iran, by reviving old areas of dispute regarding an Afghan settlement. 

2. Make sure to get US hands on as many Afghan resources as possible, including minerals, poppies (as cultivated in the lucrative narcotics trade) and precious metals. 

3. In the event that the US is unable to obtain Afghanistan’s resources, make certain that countries like China are not allowed to do so by using an endless US military presence in the country to disrupt any One Belt–One Road links through Afghanistan. 

 4. Use Afghanistan as a terrorist base from which to launch attacks on Pakistan’s strategically important Balochistan province, which is home to the Chinese built Gwadar Port. 

5. Use Afghanistan as a terrorist base from which Daesh and other Takfiris can enter Iran.  

6. Use US control of the roads in Afghanistan to sow further conflicts between India and Pakistan, using Iran’s Chabahar Port’s proximity to Afghanistan to trap Iran into taking an overly pro-Indian side vis-a-vis the longstanding Indo-Pak disputes, due to Indian investments in Chabahar.  

These are the complex but self-evident reasons that the US refuses to leave Afghanistan even though for the American public of all political persuasions, mission creep has metamorphosed into war fatigue which in turn has metamorphosed into collective disengagement. While the wars in Syria and Iraq fill headlines internationally, the war in Afghanistan is a largely forgotten war for those outside of the region.

While many of the US goals, particularly in respect of sowing discord between Pakistan and Iran are already showing signs of failure, if the US can even partially realise their devious goals in Afghanistan, received wisdom in Washington is that it was ‘worth while’.

As I previously wrote, 

“It is a potentially gruesome situation where the only solution is for increased unity between Pakistan, Iran, China and Russia. It is in the interests of all four countries to push for both a peace process and a concerted anti-terrorist security presence in Afghanistan, even as the US remains in the country. Such a process will be difficult, but by trying to make a peace as inevitable as the lingering US war, there is a chance that Afghanistan’s two unwelcome ‘guests’, the US and Daesh, might both be kicked out”.

While elements of the Taliban remain deeply hostile to peace, part of this hostility is due to the widespread resentment among ethnic Pashtuns as well as elements of Afghanistan’s non-Pashtun minorities towards the seemingly endless US occupation of their country. While the Taliban remains illegal in Russia and universally condemned for their atrocities such as the one they claimed responsibility for in central Kabul today, it is imperative to realise that only a dialogue based peace process, the kind of which has been proposed by China, Russia and Pakistan, can ever hope to solve the crisis. Iran, in spite of its justified opposition to the Taliban, also understands that only a post-US peace process can bring any modicum of stability to the country.

This is why Afghanistan is not merely America’s quagmire; it is the world’s.

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