NATO completes a 13-year military mission in Afghanistan. The International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (ISAF) will haul down its flag in Kabul. It will be replaced by the banner of a new mission called Resolute Support («strong support”), which will train Afghan soldiers. The official transition from one mission to the next will be held December 31, 2014.
During the military mission in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban, ISAF lost 3.5 thousand solders. The new two-year mission of the alliance will be attended by 12 thousand of foreign military.
The withdrawal of forces is taking place at the background of activation of the movement “Taliban” as well as economic and political crises. Over the past year, the Afghan security forces losses increased by 6.5% and resulting in 4634 people killed and the Afghan budget is entirely dependent on foreign aid.
Svpressa.ru published an article in which Sergey Ishchenko briefly recalled the history of the Soviet mission in this country and talked with the director of the NATO Information Office in Moscow Robert Pshel.
Current situation is reminiscent of that in 1989, when the last Soviet soldier left Afghanistan. The regime of President Najibullah that Soviets left behind, had to face the armed opposition on its own. Without the support of the Soviet army Najibullah lasted three more years. But then Soviet Union collapsed and soon after the flow of money, weapons, ammunition and fuel across the Panj River dried up. In 1992, armed mujahideen took Kabul. Najibullah took refuge in the UN mission where he was hiding for four years. In an interview with the newspaper «The New York Times», he said: “If fundamentalism prevail in Afghanistan, the war will continue for many years, and the country will become a center of global drug trafficking and terrorism.” In September 1996, extremists broke into the international mission and brutally executed the former president and his brother. Soon after Americans (who had previously invested billions in extremists who fought against the Soviet troops and supporters of Najibullah), realized that the former head of Afghanistan was exactly right.
After memorable terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 the United States and its allies had to take up the mission that the USSR couldn’t complete. In the evening, October 7, 2001, 40 American and British warplanes struck the first air strikes on positions of Afghan Islamist. It was launch of a military operation that just ended today.
So what goals did NATO have in Afghanistan? As announced in Brussels and Washington – (I) destruction of the “Al-Qaeda” (ironically formation of the Al-Qaeda was motivated and supported by the US), the overthrow of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and the liberation from the influence of militants.
What was achieved? Oh, nothing. Osama bin Laden is killed but “Al-Qaeda” is successfully setting their own rules in Syria and Iraq. Thousands of Taliban are still up and running aganst the regime in Pakistan, which is allied to the Americans.
At the same time drug production has grown explosively in Afghanistan. According to the international organizations, up to 80 percent of the world opium poppy crop comes from this country. Over the years, while NATO was carrying out the operation “Enduring Freedom”, the crop production has grown 40 times higher.
How could such a thing could be possible? That was the question I recently asked the Director of NATO Information Office in Moscow Robert Pszczel. Here is his response:
– To some extent I agree with you – the problem was and is there. We are also concerned with that problem, because these drugs get to Europe and the United States. However, firstly, we did not have and do not have the authority to conduct combat operations in this direction. Or burn the fields that grow the raw materials for drugs. Such decisions are in the hands of our Afghan colleagues. And the first question on this subject should be addressed to the Afghan authorities, because they have to solve it. We did what we could. Provided, for example, police operations transport. Evacuate. But we did not have the right to make any decision on this issue.
Who seriously believe in the sincerity of those words? In reality the NATO troops were nothing but occupation army in Afghanistan, they did not need permission of official Kabul bomb villages from the air or to use drones to shoot a crowd gathered for a wedding, but they did not dare to destroy the poppy crops!
I think that the other answer is more realistic. Drugs that rushing out of Afghanistan, of course, reach Europe and the United States. But what happens first, is they flood the Central Asia and Russia. This fact can be seen by the west as a strategic gain for which no pity to sacrifice small.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, does not hide his disappointment in the results of the “Enduring Freedom”: “Plenty of evidence suggests that our biggest mistake was to impose on this mission too high expectations without significant investment. We have become too early to celebrate victory over the Islamic radical movement “Taliban”.
But much more important to look ahead. What will happen to Afghanistan next? Are we going to see the same scenario as in Iraq? The Americans left Iraq in 2011, and now most of the country is controlled by ISIS rather than official Baghdad.