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Peace is possible in Afghanistan

28 29 68

Few have hope for Afghanistan

Those in favour of the United States government’s decision to withdraw forces from Afghanistan see no pathway to victory by American forces and NATO allies over the Taliban. Meanwhile, opponents of President Joe Biden’s proposed drawdown are less interested in the welfare of the Afghan people, than they are about leaving conditions ripe for a terrorist haven to develop.

Yet, this general pessimism about the current state of affairs in Afghanistan misses one central fact – that not since 1979, before the Soviet invasion, has there ever been as much of a chance for peace as there is now.

Integral to this is how no side to the conflict – neither the Taliban nor the Afghan government – possess the ability to subdue the other.

The Taliban is, at best, a guerrilla insurgency without the capacity to capture the entire country. It has an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 fighters, a force five times smaller than that of the government. Even during the Taliban’s reign, 15 percent of the country remained under the control of its opposition, the Northern Alliance.

Today, the Taliban is thought to control approximately 15 percent of the country and the government claims it controls about 50 percent, with the remainder contested.

The Taliban has also lost the ability to justify more conflict: In the past, the claim was that foreign invaders needed to be expelled. Now, the US and NATO are gesturing that they are more than ready to hand over the political reins of the country to domestic forces.

For the Afghan government, its military support may seem to be under threat by the US and NATO withdrawal. But the troop drawback is not total abandonment. The Afghan government has a 300,000-strong military force that will continue to be financially supported by the US and NATO. The US military leadership has also made it clear that it is willing to use force in the near future if hostilities continue.

Such comments and commitments show that the US will remain behind the scenes, in some fashion, for years. Removing troops does not include the use of advisers, as well as potentially using the air force to make limited,........

© Al Jazeera

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