‘Defensive Strike’? US Hits Taliban Targets in Afghanistan Days After Peace Deal Reached
Via sputnik.com, March 3, 2020
“US forces carried out an airstrike against Taliban militants on Wednesday, USFOR-A spokesman Colonel Sonny Leggett announced on Twitter. According to the statement, it was a defensive measure, as the Taliban resumed operations against Afghan forces earlier this week. He also noted that the movement’s forces conducted 43 attacks on Afghan troops on Tuesday in Helmand.
To be clear- we are committed to peace, however we have the responsibility to defend our #ANDSF partners. #Afghans & US have complied w/ our agreements; however, Talibs appear intent on squandering this opp. and ignoring the will of the people for #peace.
— USFOR-A Spokesman Col Sonny Leggett (@USFOR_A) March 4, 2020
“Reports previously suggested that the Taliban had attacked two checkpoints in the city of Kunduz, killing at least 20 Afghan soldiers and police officers.
Shortly thereafter, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated that the airstrikes breached the deal between the Taliban and Washington as the movement did not technically violate the agreement signed in Doha.
‘This clearly violates the Doha agreement, because the Taliban did not take any obligations toward the Afghan government, but only to the United States and they have not violated them so far“, Russian presidential envoy to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov stressed.’ [rather confusing language, it seems; anyway, here’s more from tass.com)
‘US strikes Taliban as Trump’s Afghanistan peace deal risks collapse’ 4 Mar, 2020, RT.com
“A spokesman for US forces said that an airstrike had targeted Taliban fighters in Nahr-e Saraj, Helmand, who were “actively attacking” an Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) checkpoint. The Pentagon insisted the strike was defensive and aimed at “disrupting” the Taliban assault, claiming that it was the first US attack on the Taliban in eleven days.
The spokesman also called on the Taliban to stop “needless attacks” and to uphold their side of the ceasefire.
The militants reportedly killed around 20 Afghan soldiers and policemen in a string of overnight attacks, AFP reported, citing government officials.” [snip]
The US is currently trying to broker a peace deal with the Taliban, and has pledged to withdraw from Afghanistan within 14 months if the Taliban agrees to security guarantees and talks with the government in Kabul. The deal also includes a prisoner swap, but the Afghan government has refused to comply and has argued that Washington cannot negotiate on its behalf.”
On Feb. 22, 2020 Bill Van Auken at wsws.org had added some fascinating details in his ‘A “ceasefire” in Washington’s Afghanistan debacle’, including some Qs I’d asked on Pluto's Rebublic's thread:
Pluto’s Republic thread:
“This carnage has continued right up until the announcement of the partial cease-fire Friday. Virtually every day this month has brought reports of the slaughter of civilians in US air strikes. Five civilians, one woman and four children, died under US bombs in Badghis province on February 6. On February 7, Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission reported three civilians were killed and one wounded in a US strike, all of them university students on their way home from a funeral. On February 8, five civilians died in an airstrike on a vehicle in Farah province. Another eight civilians were killed in a US strike in Nangrahar province on February 14.”
[He chronicles some of the history of US Imperialism’s efforts as far back as 1970s…]
“The war ended with the Taliban, a student-based Islamist movement, gaining control over the vast majority of Afghanistan in 1996. And, while Washington never established formal diplomatic relations with its government, it knew that the Taliban’s leadership were men with whom one “could do business.” The Trump administration’s special envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, who negotiated the current deal, worked in the 1990s for the energy conglomerate Unocal—now part of Chevron—negotiating with the Taliban on a deal for a trans-Afghanistan gas pipeline.
Both before and after September 11, 2001, the Taliban offered to cooperate with Washington in bringing Osama bin Laden to trial. US officials rejected all such overtures, with the CIA doubtless having its own uses for Al Qaeda, which had originated as part of the agency’s mujahideen operation of the 1980s.
The intervention in Afghanistan, planned well in advance of 9/11, was launched not to prosecute a “war on terrorism,” but rather to project US military power into Central and South Asia in pursuit of geo-strategic interests, seizing control of a country bordering on the oil-rich former Soviet republics of the Caspian Basin, as well as China.” [snip]
“The war in pursuit of these aims was a war of aggression, a violation of international law that gave rise to a host of other crimes: massacres, rendition and torture, Guantanamo and CIA “black sites,” as well as the US Patriot Act and a wholesale assault on democratic rights within the US itself.
In the end, this war has proven an unmitigated debacle. If all Washington wanted was a deal with the Taliban to exclude Al Qaeda and similar forces from Afghanistan, it could have gotten that two decades ago without sending a single soldier.
“The puppet character of this regime is confirmed by its exclusion from the US-Taliban talks.
The results of the last election, held in September with a record-low turnout of less than 25 percent, were just announced this week amid charges of gross fraud. Opposition candidate Abdullah Abdullah, installed as “CEO” after the last fraudulent election, has refused to accept the legitimacy of President Ashraf Ghani’s reelection and has vowed to set up a parallel government, severely complicating proposed intra-Afghan negotiations on “a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire and the future political roadmap for Afghanistan” that are supposed to follow the signing of the US-Taliban deal.
As for the Afghan security forces, while suffering grievous losses, they have proven incapable of resisting the Taliban without intense US air support and American special forces “advisors.” The number of “insider” attacks, in which Afghan soldiers turn their guns on US and NATO trainers, has continued to mount.” [snip]
“Whether the deal announced Friday will culminate in an end to the US military presence in Afghanistan is far from certain. A similar agreement that was to be signed at Camp David last September was called off at the last minute by Trump on the pretext that a Taliban attack had claimed the life of a US soldier.”
“The supposed move to end America’s longest war is bound up with the preparation for what would be the world’s most catastrophic military confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia and China.
It is no coincidence that the announcement of the limited deal with the Taliban came on the same day that the first of 20,000 US troops began arriving in Europe for the largest war games on the continent in a quarter century, being staged as a rehearsal for a war of aggression against Russia.”
On March 2, 2020 Van Auken had also noted:
“Unconfirmed reports state that secret clauses in the agreement include the retention of a US Special Forces and CIA contingent on the ground in Afghanistan. In an op-ed column published in the Washington Post Sunday, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper wrote that “the United States will continue its financial and military support to the Afghan government and its security forces.” [snip]
“Abdullah denounced Ghani for secretly sending a delegation to Doha for talks with the Taliban on upcoming negotiations. “Sending a team from the Presidential Palace to Doha, without consulting with other people in Afghanistan, as representatives of Afghanistan … these were the issues which caused the absence of a big number of politicians in [Saturday’s] ceremony” in Kabul, Abdullah said.
Among those absent were the Afghan warlords Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, leader of the Hizb-e-Islami, and Abdul Rashid Dostum, who holds the post of first vice president. Also staying away were former president Hamid Karzai, the head of the High Peace Council, Mohammad Karim Khalili, and the second deputy chief executive, Mohammad Mohaqiq.” [snip]
“The war begun in 2001, launched on the pretext of combating terrorism and capturing Osama bin Laden, had been prepared well in advance. It was aimed at projecting US military force into the energy-rich region of Central Asia in the wake of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Washington’s drive for hegemony in the country, which borders Iran and China and is in close proximity to Russia, will continue.
Also continuing to drive the Afghan conflict are the conflicting interests of the region’s two nuclear-armed powers—India, which has backed the Kabul government, and Pakistan, whose military Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) provided sanctuary to the Taliban leadership. Saturday saw India’s foreign minister attend the ceremony in Kabul, while his Pakistani counterpart was at the signing in Doha.”
And…from the militarytimes.com, Aug. 16, 2019: ‘Analysis suggests warlords in Afghanistan are bracing for civil war once US, NATO troops exit’
“According to analysis from the Institute for the Study of War, ethnic groups in Afghanistan including Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Hazaras are preparing for a possible civil war once U.S. and NATO forces depart Afghanistan — similar to the civil war that ensued after the Soviet Union pulled out of Afghanistan in 1989.
“Afghanistan is dangerously poised for a new Afghan Civil War reminiscent of the instability that followed the withdrawal of the Soviet Union in the 1990s,” Afghanistan research assistant Scott DesMarais wrote in the analysis published Aug. 15.
The analysis claims these groups have signaled they’ve already started mobilizing their communities in order to safeguard them against the Taliban, a Pashtun organization. Pashtuns comprise more than 40 percent of the Afghan population, according to the World Atlas.
“These preparations in and of themselves raise the likelihood of a new civil war by increasing the strength of power centers outside the Government of Afghanistan and setting conditions for a rapid dissolution of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF),” DesMarais writes.” [large snip]
“As a result, DesMarais cautioned that the peace plan would cripple the Afghan government.
“It will remove the government’s core source of leverage over the Taliban — namely, the military forces and international aid money brought by the U.S. and NATO to Afghanistan,” DesMarais said.
The analysis cited international and local media reports, along with academic reports and Facebook posts from leaders of the ethnic groups.
The sacrifices of our #Afghan partners made this #RIV possible. They are the fearless guardians of #Afghanistan. We stand side-by-side in the fight to protect our homelands. #ThisIsANDSF #IamAGuardian pic.twitter.com/3e5N3avkBk
— USFOR-A Spokesman Col Sonny Leggett (@USFOR_A) February 28, 2020
@USFOR_A · 10h10 hours ago
"On March 3rd alone, the Taliban conducted 43 attacks on #ANDSF checkpoints in #Helmand. The Taliban claim to be fighting to free Afg. from int’l forces, the Feb 29 agreement provides a conditions-based path to withdrawal."
"The reduction in violence was a confidence builder. We're very serious about our obligations and we expect the Taliban will be serious about their obligations. The United States has been very clear about our expectations—the violence must remain low." – Gen. Scott Miller