By Drew Berquist:
Fifteen years of support, thousands of American lives lost and over one trillion U.S. dollars spent, yet the Afghan government still frequently chides the U.S. government over absurd matters and frequently gets in the way of operations to eradicate the extremists, whether the Taliban, or now ISIS who has established a presence in the war-torn country.
Statistics related to the War on Terror in Afghanistan
U.S. Service members and civilians killed:
U.S. Service members and civilians wounded:
U.S. Dollars Spent on the war:
More than 1 trillion U.S. dollars
However, somewhat mundane and to-be-expected political maneuvering pales in comparison to the recent discovery by OpsLens.
We are not talking about the fact that the Taliban is systematically taking back the county, though they certainly are. But that is, sadly, no surprise.
According to a senior official, the situation has deteriorated so much, that President Ghani is no longer allowing Afghan journalists into contested or Taliban controlled areas in order to shield the public from the bitter truth, their country is falling back into the hands of the radical and Pashtun dominant group. Coincidence? Perhaps not.
…The Taliban now controls as much as 50% of Afghanistan…
Nor are we discussing the widespread corruption, something that plagued Afghanistan long before Ghani manipulated his way into the Palace. As a consequence of the pervasive corruption, Afghan troops are inadequately supplied to hold off the Taliban in key regions. Just in recent weeks the Ministry of Defense in Kabul sent 9 million rounds of ammunition to Helmand Province to help fight the encroaching Taliban, but the delivery never arrived leaving the soldiers with empty or partially filled magazines.
All of the above and a host of other issues demand further conversation by U.S. policy makers on how to best proceed in Afghanistan, but other recent news may have served as an even more sobering discovery.
An inside source and Senior Afghan official informed OpsLens that the Pashtun heavy palace, celebrated two recent events in the United States, despite their public apologies and empty condolences.
In June 2016 a Pashtun Afghan male, Omar Mateen, killed 49 Americans and wounded several more in a mass shooting incident at Pulse Night Club in Orlando, Florida. Mateen pledged his allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr Baghdadi during the event and cited the club patrons’ homosexuality as further justification for his actions.
In September 2016, Ahmad Khan Rahami, another Afghan-American of Pashtun descent, set off multiple explosive devices in New York and New Jersey, sparking a manhunt and his eventual capture. Both events demonstrated the growing threat of radical Islam-inspired terrorist events in the U.S, and both were conducted by Pashtun Afghan males.
Statistics related to attacks in the U.S. by Pashtun Afghan males so far this year.
Number of civilians killed by Omar Mateen in a radical Islamic terrorist event at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando:
Number of civilians injured at the same location:
Number of explosive devices placed or belonging to Afghan Ahmad Khan Rahami:
Number of people injured by two blasts in New York and New Jersey:
According to senior officials, several Pashtuns and key staff members of President Ghani and his right-hand-man, Hanif Atmar, who serves as the country’s National Security Advisor, celebrated their Pashtun brethren’s U.S. attacks on both occasions behind closed doors. Ghani and the government of Afghanistan ultimately distanced themselves with an insincere apology, citing their dismay over such hoffirific actions by an Afghan. However, the fact remains that their staff and collective sentiment following the terror was that of pride. A further signal that the country is ungrateful and does not want the U.S. meddling in their backyard. It also demonstrates that Pashtuns are more radical and incapable of cooperating with other tribes within their country. To be clear -Tajiks, Uzbeks, Hazaras and other tribes within Afghanistan cling to their ancestors vice the country as well – a problem that will always forbid the country from rallying around the flag.
What does this mean?
Such news is beyond frustrating, albeit not completely surprising. While the horrific events in the United States were not directed by the Afghan government, their response demonstrates just how broken the country is and sparks the need for new discussions on how to proceed forward with U.S. efforts in Afghanistan. My gut says screw’em, they were never going to succeed as a country in the first place. And that’s true, but obviously it cannot be our policy as extremists still need to be hunted and killed and Afghanistan is still fertile hunting ground. So the more practical plan should be, at a minimum, those who we engage with must be reviewed and certain changes, if we stay, must be made. After all, we have placed most Afghan leaders in their positions, we should be able to remove them too. Some will call foul and puppeteering on this type of behavior, but to those I would just say you’re naïve, this is how the world works. You can either let the cards fall as they may, or choose your cards. I suggest quietly using the latter approach.
Bottom line, such sentiment of joy over the loss of American lives by any Afghan is disturbing and completely unsatisfactory. The Taliban are systematically taking over the country as the U.S. debates how involved we should be at this point and the Ghani administration concurrently is tearing apart the populous.
After more than 30 deployments to the war-torn country and being a strong proponent for the war, I find it imperative that we stick to our mission of routing out the enemies that are of strategic interest to us, but cease to let the Afghan government and our ‘trusted partners’ (who hate us behind closed doors) dictate how we operate.
We have been politically betrayed too many times by the previous Karzai administration, most of which the public does not know about, and now again by Ghani. Granted, had we stuck to our original mission of removing the Taliban and routing out al-Qai’da, vice the subsequent nation building we always find ourselves doing, perhaps we would feel lest vested and not care so much what leaders of a fruitless nation think. But alas here we are….again.
Still, a chance still remains to focus our efforts on removing key extremist players and cease the costly nation building, but it will take a resurgence of interest and understanding (this part may be difficult) by U.S. policy makers and strong leadership on the ground.
Did you know: Prior to the Taliban’s rise to power in Afghanistan, the Taliban sent former President Karzai as their spokesman to Kabul to negotiate with the Afghan government…
Drew Berquist is the founder and a Senior Contributor for OpsLens. Drew served as a counterterrorism officer for the United States Intelligence Community, where he performed more than thirty deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan to conduct intelligence operations. Drew has commented on national security matters on Lou Dobbs, Dennis Miller and a number of other shows throughout the country. Follow Drew and his staff of contributors on Twitter at @OpsLens