Hekmatyar believes Kunduz fall was conspiracy to extend foreign forces’ presence
As the government of President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abddullah celebrates the extension of US military presence in Afghanistan, the Taliban have angrily denounced the decision as “illogical.”
“The Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, on behalf of the people of the country, welcomes President Obama’s decision on continuation of cooperation of that country with the people of Afghanistan, especially in the area of security, which is based on the terms of the security and strategic partnership agreements between the two countries,” Ghani said shortly after Obama made the announcement.
The Taliban in a statement on Friday said the group had repeatedly asserted that “the American troops would not end the invasion of Afghanistan” and their “fake promises” were meant only to mislead Afghans and American people.
“We urge our Mujahideen to devise plans to particularly hit American installations, their convoys and related targets [in Afghanistan] and bring severity in such attacks,” the Taliban said in their statement posted in Pashto.
The supporting view
Contrary to the Taliban view, some defence experts believe Obama’s decision is in the interest of both Kabul and Washington.
Former Afghan defence minister, Shahnawaz Tanai, says Obama has taken the decision as the US has not “achieved its goals in Afghanistan” over the past 15 years.
“Afghanistan still needs military, political and economic support, and both Kabul and Washington are on the same page for a slow pace of the withdrawal,” Tanai told The Express Tribune by phone from Kabul on Friday. He however observed that the presence of foreign forces could affect efforts to finding an early solution to the conflict.
In order to defend the reversal of a major campaign pledge, Obama cited the current “fragile security” in Afghanistan; however, the decision was anticipated much earlier as Kabul had been seeking a longer stay of foreign troops in view of increased Taliban attacks.
The US-led forces were actively involved in counter-insurgency operations after the Taliban overran Kunduz on September 28 without any significant resistance by the foreign-trained Afghan security forces. It was only American airstrikes that enabled Afghan forces to enter the city.
The fall of the strategically important city to the Taliban was as much an embarrassment for the US and its Nato allies as many Afghans raised questions about the quality of their training.
However, some senior Afghan leaders have a different approach, as they view the Kunduz incident as an intelligence game to justify the already existing plan of a longer stay of foreign forces in Afghanistan.
“I strongly believe the Kunduz fall was planned by intelligence circles. The Northern Alliance was assigned to flee without resistance and they were advised to seek US air support to retake the city,” said the Hizb-e-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) chief Gudbuddin Hekmatyar, referring to speeches delivered by Dr Abdullah Abdullah in New York and Washington, at the time of the Taliban’s brief control of Kunduz. Abdullah was at the United Nations when the Taliban overran Kunduz.
“Abdullah used his speeches to demand the US to reconsider its decision of troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan because the Afghan forces are not capable to defend the country,” the HIA chief said in a statement this week.
Afghan political commentators are of the view the Taliban would now use the extended stay of foreign forces to recruit more youth for fighting.
Nazar Mutmaeen, an Afghan analyst who regularly writes on the Taliban and security issues, said the pro-government religious scholars would describe as “unjustified” the Taliban fighting against their own forces.
“But now, the Taliban will try to encourage youth to join them to fight the invading forces,” Mutmaeen told The Express Tribune from Kabul.
The Taliban have stated on a number of occasions that they are willing to talk to the Americans to find a solution to the conflict. Their latest announcement on Thursday that they are ready for “meaningful negotiations” and that there is “no military solution” to the problem coincided with Obama’s decision. With a renewed willingness from both sides to use the option of negotiations, they should take practical steps and help end the over decade-long war.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 17th, 2015.