Showing posts with label AfPak. Show all posts
Showing posts with label AfPak. Show all posts

26 June 2017

***Can Pakistan’s Banned Organizations Rejoin the Mainstream?

By Syed Arfeen

“Though Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD) is not listed as a political organization but it is a political entity, we want to register JuD as a political party. We played a positive role in the politics and we want to continue it,” said Hafiz Masood in Islamabad on March 27 this year.

Masood, brother of JuD chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, was speaking in a closed-door session on “Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Different Brands of Militants.” The discussion, organized by the think tank Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies (PIPS), centered on the reintegration of banned outfits like Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD), Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), and Ahle-Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ).

Later, during a press briefing on April 26, the spokesman of the Pakistan Army, Major General Asif Ghafour, released a confessional video statement from Ehsanullah Ehsan, the former spokesman of the banned Jamat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), a splinter group of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

According to Ehsan, India’s intelligence agency (the Research & Analysis Wing or RAW) and the Afghan intelligence arm National Directorate of Services (NDS) aim to destabilize Pakistan and both are funding anti-Pakistan elements.

The back-to-back crucial developments sparked a debate about the reintegration and mainstreaming of banned outfits in the country.

Afghanistan 2017 Offers "No Exit" Options to the United States:

By Dr Subhash Kapila

Sensing that the violent paroxysms of the Pakistan Army-Taliban combine in 2017 in disrupting Afghanistan brook no conflict-resolution, the United States this week wisely decided to reinforce US Forces in Afghanistan by another 4,000 troops, possibly, politically signalling a ‘Statement of Intent’ that more troop surges could follow.

Contemporaneously in 2017 Afghanistan emerges as even more pivotal for United States national security interests than ever before. As pointed in my recent SAAG Papers on the subject that the United States cannot afford to abandon or abdicate from its security commitments on Afghanistan and leave it to the machinations of the China-Pakistan-Russia Trilateral.

US President Trump has wisely delegated authority to his Defence Secretary General Mattis to solely decide the troop’s requirements to stabilise Afghanistan. This is a welcome step moving away from the past years of micro-management of Afghanistan military operations by the political establishment in Washington.

Since Afghanistan in 2017 offers ‘No-Exit’ options to the United States, it becomes incumbent that the United States policy establishment should recognise some essential home-truths to achieve the end-aims of stabilising Afghanistan and making it secure against the terrorism.

25 June 2017

*** ABBOTTABAD REVISITED

BRUCE HOFFMAN

Osama bin Laden evaded the world’s greatest manhunt for a decade. The Exile reveals for the first time exactly how. What makes this account unique is the unprecedented access that the authors, the renowned British investigative journalists Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy, secured to bin Laden’s four wives and his surviving progeny; an astonishing array of al-Qaeda commanders, foot soldiers, ideologues, and lackeys; and the American and Pakistani officials, soldiers, and intelligence officers respectively responsible for hunting or sheltering him. The Exile, accordingly, provides the most definitive account available of bin Laden’s increasingly fraught existence in an over-crowded, ramshackle villa just a stone’s throw from Pakistan’s version of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

The book’s main argument is that neither bin Laden nor the movement he created could have survived without the active support of persons at the apex of both Pakistan’s and especially Iran’s intelligence services. The critical roles played by both countries in sheltering and protecting key al-Qaeda leaders and their families has of course long been known. But no other publicly available source comes as close to The Exile in presenting this familiar story either in as much detail or from the first-hand perspective of the key dramatis personae. New York Times reporter Carlotta Gall’s 2014 book, The Wrong Enemy, for example, had forcefully advanced the same claim regarding Pakistan’s complicity. The Exile goes considerably further: both in fleshing out the story and providing additional substantiation through the new information from multiple first-hand perspectives that Scott-Clark and Levy rely on.
By Ghulam Farooq Mujaddidi

The May 31 deadly terror attack in the heart of Kabul that killed and wounded hundreds of ordinary Afghans was not the first one in such a highly important area, nor was it the first time that the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) have failed to safeguard their own perimeters – not to mention their repeated failures to protect key civilian institutions, peaceful gatherings, and diplomatic missions in the country over the years. A month before the deadly Kabul attack, a Taliban suicide squad stormed the Afghan National Army’s (ANA) main base in the north of the country, leaving carnage behind – 150 Afghan soldiers were killed and another 100-plus were injured.

Over the past several months, militants were able to breach security parameters and hit key ANDSF institutions deep inside the Afghan capital, Kabul. Among the targets were the largest Afghan Military Hospital, cadets of the Afghan National Police (ANP), the Afghan Ministry of Defense, and the Directorate of VIP Protection and Security – an elite agency responsible for protecting high-ranking Afghan government officials and prominent leaders.

Although Pakistani “safe haven and support” for the insurgent groups along with insurgents’ resilience and adaptability are notable factors in carrying out such deadly assaults, the main reasons why ANDSF consistently fails to foil high-profile attacks are inattention to Afghanistan’s main intelligence agency, known as the National Directorate of Security (NDS), and political interference and appointments in ANDSF institutions.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.

One-Size-Fits-All Approach Fails in Afghanistan

ANTHONY CORDESMAN

The U.S. continues to face a daunting challenge in Afghanistan, as it aims to bring stability to a country that has been plagued by conflict for decades. The Cipher Brief’s Bennett Seftel sat down with Anthony Cordesman, Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, to discuss why the United States’ strategy in Afghanistan has failed to deliver a desirable outcome and how the Trump Administration should approach the longest war in U.S. history.

The Cipher Brief: It’s been reported that the Taliban controls approximately 30 percent of Afghanistan, the most territory it has controlled since 2001. What more can be done to beat back Taliban advances and stabilize the country?

Anthony Cordesman: First, we need to be very careful about the numbers involved. There are indications that the Taliban increased the number of districts where it has a very substantial presence by about ten percent last year. The difficulty is, what does that actually mean, because if you are trying to minimize Taliban control, you can get districts being reported as under government control when all the government really controls is the capital of that district and sometimes only a few buildings within it.

This is an insurgency. We are talking about an ongoing struggle for hearts and minds, and we are talking about different rebel factions. The fact that the government in Kabul may have an interest doesn’t mean that it’s really the government in control – often it’s a power broker. We really are watching what is an expansion of threat influence. But none of these statistics are particularly reliable. In the past, there has been a tendency to exaggerate government control and to give the government credit if it has some kind of presence in a district capital, even if that presence wasn’t really doing anything and was grossly corrupt.

Too Little, Too Late? White House-Pentagon Review of the War in Afghanistan Pushes Cracking Down on Pakistan For Its Support of Taliban and ISIS


President Donald Trump’s administration appears ready to harden its approach toward Pakistan to crack down on Pakistan-based militants launching attacks in neighbouring Afghanistan, U.S. officials tell Reuters.

Potential Trump administration responses being discussed include expanding U.S. drone strikes, redirecting or withholding some aid to Pakistan and perhaps eventually downgrading Pakistan’s status as a major non-NATO ally, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Some U.S. officials, however, are sceptical of the prospects for success, arguing that years of previous U.S. efforts to curb Pakistan’s support for militant groups have failed, and that already strengthening U.S. ties to India, Pakistan’s arch-enemy, undermine chances of a breakthrough with Islamabad.

U.S. officials say they seek greater cooperation with Pakistan, not a rupture in ties, once the administration finishes a regional review of the strategy guiding the 16-year-old war in Afghanistan.

Precise actions have yet to be decided.

The White House and Pentagon declined to comment on the review before its completion. Pakistan’s embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

24 June 2017

The IMF: Pakistan’s History And Future With The Lender Of Last Resort – OpEd

By Sara Cheema

Last year marked the end of Pakistan’s most recent IMF Loan Programme. While many commemorate at the thought of finally coming out of the programme and its forced macroeconomic restrictions, others remain doubtful about our future with the Fund. Are we likely to relapse into the fold of yet another burdensome and economically disastrous programme? In truth, our relationship with the IMF has been a long and uncomfortable one. Loans from the Fund continue to be the gift that keeps on giving, even if at times we do not want it, and certainly regardless of whether or not we are in the position to return it.

As of 1988, Pakistan has entered into 12 different programmes with the IMF, which by contrast, is greater than all countries in the region combined. India till now has signed only 1 facility with the Fund, while countries such as Nepal and Bangladesh have signed a mere 2. Pakistan, for this very reason, was classified as a ‘prolonged user’ by the IMF in 2002, ranking third in the world, higher than every low-income African nation, but surpassed only by two countries; the Philippines and Panama.

One reason for this most certainly has been our constant and very costly effort to keep at par with India, economically and militarily, as well as our long-standing war on terror, all of this done too in the face of exceptionally low levels of savings in the country. As a result of such expenditures, our external accounts have typically remained under pressure, which along with soaring costs of commercial borrowing from international markets, made the IMF was an easy solution to our problems.

US Still Tilting at Windmills in the ‘Ghan: Why Is the US Sending 4,000 More Troops to Afghanistan?


KABUL, AFGHANISTAN - Sixteen years into its longest war, the United States is sending another 4,000 troops to Afghanistan in an attempt to turn around a conflict characterized by some of the worst violence since the Taliban were ousted in 2001. They also face the emergence of an Islamic State group affiliate and an emboldened Taliban, who by Washington’s own watchdog’s assessment now control nearly half the country.

In February, Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction John Sopko, in his first report to the Trump administration, offered a bleak picture of a country struggling under the burden of a deeply corrupt government, a strengthening Taliban and a U.S. development budget rife with waste.

While the government of President Ashraf Ghani asked for a troop surge, at least one lawmaker, Nasrullah Sadeqizada, was skeptical of the plan and cautioned that any should be coordinated with the Afghan government and not be done unilaterally by the United States.

“The security situation continues to deteriorate in Afghanistan and the foreign troops who are here are not making it better,” he said.

At its peak, the war involved 120,000 international troops from 42 countries. So many in Afghanistan question whether adding 4,000 troops to the 8,500 U.S. soldiers in the country will bring peace. But failure could leave the U.S. vulnerable to an increasingly hostile Afghanistan and its growing anti-Western sentiment.

WHAT CAUSED THE DETERIORATION ULTIMATELY LEADING TO THE TROOP SURGE?

23 June 2017

*** PAKISTAN’S ANXIETIES ARE INCURABLE, SO STOP TRYING TO CURE THEM

C. CHRISTINE FAIR

CORRECTION: This article originally and unfortunately referred to Moeed Yusuf as a proxy of Pakistani officials. Due to a serious editorial lapse, for which I take personal responsibility, this was not removed prior to publication. It absolutely should have been removed and we are implementing stricter editorial practices to help ensure something like this does not happen again.

Dr. Yusuf is a well-regarded and valuable member of the South Asia security community. War on the Rocks does not endorse Prof. Christine Fair’s baseless characterization of him as a “proxy” and we regret that we published it due to an oversight. Dr. Yusuf’s body of work on democracy, militancy, and a host of other issues offers valuable contributions to U.S. policymakers, academics, government officials, and security practitioners. We offer our sincere apologies to Dr. Yusuf as well as to our readers who rightly hold us to a higher standard. It is absolutely vital that we engage in public debate without personal attacks. -Ryan Evans, editor-in-chief

For the last 16 years, the Washington policy community has debated how the United States should deal with its problematic partner in its war in Afghanistan: Pakistan. During the Obama administration, there was a growing consensus that Pakistan was the problem, even if there was no agreement on how to manage it. Despite disagreements, at the end of the Obama administration, there was a grudging acknowledgment that the Washington needed

*** Iran, Russia, and the Taliban: Reassessing the Future of the Afghan State


By Amin Tarzi

The first combat zone utilization of the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) device by the U.S. forces in Afghanistan (USFOR-A) on 13 April 2017 brought the Islamic State–Khorasan Province (ISKP) to the headlines. ISKP emerged in Afghanistan and Pakistan in early 2015 after individuals and groups of militants pledged their allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS. This ISIS affiliate became operational after only a few months. While the ISKP represents a danger to the stability of Afghanistan and Pakistan and to the wider region including India and Central Asia, the outfit has become a vehicle to legitimization of the growing internationalization of the wider Afghan conflict, particularly in changing the calculus of Iran and Russia vis-à-vis the Taliban, and it has the potential of becoming a tool for proxy warfare in Afghanistan evocative of the mid-1990s.

ISKP and the Taliban: Taking Different Paths

Since its emergence in the mid-1990s, the Taliban sought international legitimacy, unlike the self-identified Islamic State. The initial proclamations of the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate were mostly Afghan-centric. However, with the cementing of their ties with al-Qaeda after capturing Kabul in 1996, their views took on a more pan-Islamist outlook.1 Retrospectively, the strategies of the Taliban and those of al-Qaeda differed fundamentally, as the former wanted to become a national movement and be recognized by the international community as such, while the latter wanted to keep Afghanistan in a perpetual state of anarchy, utilizing it as a base for waging global jihad. In a 2012 study on Taliban’s attitudes towards reconciliation, most respondents agreed that al-Qaeda was responsible for derailing the Taliban’s initial aim of establishing an Islamic state in Afghanistan.2 Currently, the majority of the Taliban has returned to the founding Afghanistan-centric principles of the movement with an arguably less religiously zealous message, calling on Muslims to avoid extremism in religion with the goal of becoming a legitimate force in the political arena of the country as well as in the international calculations on Afghanistan. Perhaps learning from their initial mistakes, the reemerging Taliban has tried to speak for the totality of Afghanistan, including providing assurances that they will respect the rights of the Shi‘a and other minorities within the country. Nevertheless, the Taliban remains a violent insurgency and is very keen not only on retaining its monopoly over this violence, but also on controlling and managing it to help calibrate the reactions of both domestic and foreign actors.3

As U.S. Adds Troops in Afghanistan, Trump’s Strategy Remains Undefined


By MARK LANDLER 

WASHINGTON — When President Trump made his first major decision on the war in Afghanistan, he did not announce it in a nationally televised address from the White House or a speech at West Point.

Instead, the Pentagon issued a news release late one afternoon last week confirming that the president had given the defense secretary, Jim Mattis, the authority to send several thousand additional troops to a war that, in its 16th year, engages about 8,800 American troops.

Mr. Trump, who writes avidly on Twitter about war and peace in other parts of the world, said nothing about the announcement. But its effect was unmistakable: He had outsourced the decision on how to proceed militarily in Afghanistan to the Pentagon, a startling break with how former President Barack Obama and many of his predecessors handled the anguished task of sending Americans into foreign conflicts.

The White House played down the Pentagon’s vaguely worded statement, which referred only to setting “troop levels” as a stopgap measure — a tacit admission of the administration’s internal conflicts over what to do about the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan.

Don Brown 1 day ago

22 June 2017

Afghanistan’s Center of Gravity: The Taliban and Case for AFPAK FATA by Victor R. Morris

Victor R. Morris

Introduction

The Taliban are the center of gravity in Afghanistan. This is not due to the fact the group is the perceived adversary, but because the Taliban wield power. The insurgency predominantly composed of ethnic Pashtuns are a tangible physical agent performing actions. Equally important, the insurgency is emboldened by intangible socio-cultural variables like Sunni Islamic fundamentalism, Salafi jihadism and Pashtunwali. These intangible variables influence relevant populations and actors, but the Taliban insurgency has the inherent capability for action required to achieve their political objectives. After almost two decades of misidentifying and attacking centers of gravity (COGs), another insurgency strategy needs to be considered or re-considered for successful and effective limited defeat of the Taliban hybrid threat.

This article conducts COG analysis on the Taliban sub-system and Pashtun tribal system using revised joint doctrine and non-linear dynamical systems analysis. Identification of vulnerabilities and recommendations for non-military strategies are outputs of the analyses.

Eikmeier Method of COG Analysis

Considering the Taliban as the primary COG in the war in Afghanistan utilizes the new COG definition that both clarifies and modernizes the COG concept, which is a crucial approach as operational environments and population dynamics change over time. The insurgency also called “the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” exists in the physical environment and has the capability to attain their objectives. As of May 2017, the Taliban controls or contests 40 percent of Afghan districts and subsequently heavily influences international security policy. In order to elucidate the insurgency’s mechanisms of control and influence, this article employs the Eikmeier method of COG analysis that includes revised definitions, precision and testability. Therefore, the COG identification assertion is validated based on the above criteria. This article also draws from nonlinear science and warfare concepts, which include systems, chaos and complexity theories.

Afghan Government Quietly Aids Breakaway

By TAIMOOR SHAH, ROD NORDLAND 

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — It was a particularly bitter fight in the heavily contested district of Gereshk in Helmand Province. The adversaries deployed suicide attackers, roadside explosives and a magnetic bomb stuck to the undercarriage of a commander’s car, amid pitched firefights that went on for several days last week.

When it was over, at least 21 people were dead on both sides — and all were members of the Taliban.

As a result, Gereshk remained one of the few places in the province still mostly under the Afghan government’s control, thanks to a breakaway Taliban faction that has become a de facto ally of the government.

Infighting among the Taliban is nothing new. But Afghan officials have now chosen sides, with a policy that amounts to “If you can’t beat them, at least help their enemies do so.”

In recent months, the government has quietly provided the breakaway faction — popularly known as the Renouncers — with weapons, safe passage and intelligence support in their fight against the mainstream Taliban. The result has been a series of successes in areas where the government has otherwise suffered repeated defeats, particularly in Helmand, a southern province where the mainstream Taliban still control 90 percent of the territory.

21 June 2017

** Afghanistan: It’s Too Late


Ahmed Rashid

When Donald Trump’s secretary of defense, James Mattis, was called before the Senate Armed Services Committee this week to testify about the conflict in Afghanistan, he was unusually blunt: “We are not winning in Afghanistan right now,” he said. The Taliban have been on a dramatic offensive, he acknowledged, the security situation continues to deteriorate, and the Afghan government holds considerably less territory than it did a year ago. In other words, prospects for any sort of positive outcome are as remote as they have been in this sixteen-year war—the longest war in American history. 

Yet Trump—and Mattis’s—solution to this unwinnable war seems to be once again to send more troops. On Tuesday, Trump announced that the military itself would be given full authority to decide how many troops it needs. (By leaving all decisions in the hands of the military, he has abandoned the usual inter-agency consultations, especially with the State Department.) And Mattis is talking about a review to be completed in July that could add as many as 5,000 troops. It may be too late. 

Afghanistan now faces a far deeper crisis than many seem to understand. Warlords and politicians—including cabinet members—are calling for the resignation of President Ashraf Ghani and his security ministers, accusing them of incompetence, arrogance, and stirring up ethnic hatred. There are as many as ten public demonstrations a day in the streets of Kabul, carried out by young people and by relatives of those killed in recent bomb attacks. 

China May Soon Establish Naval Base in U.S. Ally Pakistan

by WAJAHAT S. KHAN 

LONDON — Nuclear-armed Pakistan is a key ally of the United States — but the relationship is far from untroubled. And one of Washington's main geopolitical rivals appears ready to step in.

The Pentagon is warning that the Islamic republic may soon house a Chinese military base.

While the U.S. gives Islamabad hundreds of millions of dollars in aid, the two countries are not on the same page when it comes to fighting terrorism or ending the war in Afghanistan.

A report released earlier this month suggested that Beijing would likely turn to countries such as Pakistan as it seeks to project its economic and military power abroad.

The Pentagon didn't provide a time frame for such a move. However, a senior Pakistani diplomat confirmed to NBC News that his country invited China to build a naval facility on its territory back in 2011.

“What better way for China to demonstrate clout than to build a military base right in your rival's backyard?”

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the diplomat said this request came just days after U.S. Navy SEALs conducted a secret raid to kill Osama bin Laden in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad, when relations between Washington and Islamabad took a nosedive.

What’s Happening at Pakistan’s Gwadar Port?

By Zofeen T Ebrahim

A stray dog snoozes under a red boat lying next to a rickety tea shop on the quay at Sur Bandar, where a few dozen small boats are bobbing in the Arabian Sea. The water is clear and a school of fish is swimming near the shore. The fishermen gather and chat over cups of a strong, sweet concoction they call “doodh-patti” as they watch the world go by. I ask some if they have heard of the much-touted China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), but they shake their heads.

The harbor front is quiet compared to the one at Gwadar, some 20 kilometers away, where a Chinese deep sea port is under construction, promising to transform the sleepy town into a global trading hub.

CPEC is a 3,000-kilometer corridor from Kashgar in western China to Gwadar in Pakistan on the Arabian sea. It slices through the Himalayas, disputed territories, plains, and deserts to reach the ancient fishing port of Gwadar. Huge Chinese funded infrastructure projects, including road and railway networks as well as power plants, are being built along the way. Originally valued at $46 billion, the corridor is estimated at $62 billion today.

Afghanistan: Game Of Lies


June 12, 2017: The recent terror bombings in Kabul were explicitly denied by Haqqani Network and the Afghan Taliban. Actually both these organizations are now run by the head of the Haqqani Network, which remains a “protected (from attack by Pakistani security forces)” group in Pakistan. Nevertheless the Haqqani Network has been avoiding attacks that kill a lot of civilians and concentrating on the security forces and especially specific commanders. The Afghan Taliban has been ordered to follow the same fuels but observance has been spotty. The usual suspect in large scale attacks, ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) has not claimed credit. While Afghan security forces are blamed for not preventing this attack, the Afghan intel and police investigators have become quite good and with American intel back in force it is usually possible to identify who carried out a specific attack based on debris at the scene and the growing informant network and databases the Afghans have created. The Afghan police have already admitted they knew of Haqqani plans for a Kabul attack in late May but underestimated the size of it.

The major sponsor of most attacks in cities is not the Taliban but ISIL or Haqqani Network and continued that is made possible with support from the Pakistani military. That means Haqqani has less trouble obtaining explosives and safe areas in Pakistan where staff for bombing missions can be trained and indoctrinated. ISIL does it for their own reasons while Haqqani does it because that is how they continue to enjoy a sanctuary in Pakistan. The government of Pakistan insists Haqqani has moved to Afghanistan but American and Afghan intelligence efforts keep picking up evidence that leads back to Pakistan. This includes dead, or captured, suicide bombers who turn out to be Pakistanis or Afghans who received training in Pakistan and captive ones casually note that the military and police there left them alone.

20 June 2017

US Still Tilting at Windmills in the ‘Ghan: Why Is the US Sending 4,000 More Troops to Afghanistan?

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN - Sixteen years into its longest war, the United States is sending another 4,000 troops to Afghanistan in an attempt to turn around a conflict characterized by some of the worst violence since the Taliban were ousted in 2001. They also face the emergence of an Islamic State group affiliate and an emboldened Taliban, who by Washington’s own watchdog’s assessment now control nearly half the country.

In February, Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction John Sopko, in his first report to the Trump administration, offered a bleak picture of a country struggling under the burden of a deeply corrupt government, a strengthening Taliban and a U.S. development budget rife with waste.

While the government of President Ashraf Ghani asked for a troop surge, at least one lawmaker, Nasrullah Sadeqizada, was skeptical of the plan and cautioned that any should be coordinated with the Afghan government and not be done unilaterally by the United States.

“The security situation continues to deteriorate in Afghanistan and the foreign troops who are here are not making it better,” he said.

At its peak, the war involved 120,000 international troops from 42 countries. So many in Afghanistan question whether adding 4,000 troops to the 8,500 U.S. soldiers in the country will bring peace. But failure could leave the U.S. vulnerable to an increasingly hostile Afghanistan and its growing anti-Western sentiment.

Pakistan’s Two-Pronged Game in Kabul

BY ANAND ARNI AND PRANAY KOTASTHANE 

Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar speaks during a welcoming ceremony at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani 

Kabul’s tryst with terror seems never ending. The city was never really out of danger through the last two decades but the frequency, scale, and impact of the latest round of terrorist attacks is comparable only to the darkest days of the Afghan Civil War between 1989 and 1996. 

Now, there’s another common link between that tumultuous period and today’s chaos: Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Though there is little to establish direct causation, but the strong correlation between Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s return to Kabul and the spike in the attacks deserves serious attention. 

Who is Hekmatyar? 

US Still Tilting at Windmills in the ‘Ghan: Why Is the US Sending 4,000 More Troops to Afghanistan?

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN - Sixteen years into its longest war, the United States is sending another 4,000 troops to Afghanistan in an attempt to turn around a conflict characterized by some of the worst violence since the Taliban were ousted in 2001. They also face the emergence of an Islamic State group affiliate and an emboldened Taliban, who by Washington’s own watchdog’s assessment now control nearly half the country.

In February, Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction John Sopko, in his first report to the Trump administration, offered a bleak picture of a country struggling under the burden of a deeply corrupt government, a strengthening Taliban and a U.S. development budget rife with waste.

While the government of President Ashraf Ghani asked for a troop surge, at least one lawmaker, Nasrullah Sadeqizada, was skeptical of the plan and cautioned that any should be coordinated with the Afghan government and not be done unilaterally by the United States.

“The security situation continues to deteriorate in Afghanistan and the foreign troops who are here are not making it better,” he said.

At its peak, the war involved 120,000 international troops from 42 countries. So many in Afghanistan question whether adding 4,000 troops to the 8,500 U.S. soldiers in the country will bring peace. But failure could leave the U.S. vulnerable to an increasingly hostile Afghanistan and its growing anti-Western sentiment.