Oct 1, 2014
The “good” news continues to pile on for war weary Americans. After a highly contentious election to succeed ultra corrupt Afghan President Hamid Karzi, the new power sharing leaders, President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, officially signed a residual troop and status of forces agreement that allows U.S boots to remain on the ground for additional 10 years.
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The Bilateral Security Agreement allows approximately 9,800 military service members to remain in Afghanistan until 2024. The estimated cost of the overseas contingency operations fund or “war budget” is not subject to congressional budget caps and will cost American taxpayers about $58 billion for fiscal 2015. Plus $5-8 billion in U.S. aid per year will continue to flow into Afghanistan coffers for years to come, according to Inspector General for Afghanistan John Sopko.
Directly after being sworn into office the former political foes, Ahmadzai and Abdullah, promised to share power in an effort to defuse war tensions. “We are tired of war,” Ghani Ahmadzai told fellow Afghans in a TV address. “Our message is peace, (but) this doesn’t mean we are weak.”
“Today we mark an historic day in the U.S.-Afghan partnership that will help advance our shared interests and the long-term security of Afghanistan,” President Obama said in a statement. However, and consistent with the President’s grasp of intelligence, he omitted to remark on his own National Intelligence Estimate that projects total Taliban control of Afghanistan by 2017. You may read the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) report leaked earlier this year (Story here).
The classified National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) suggested Afghanistan would quickly fall into chaos if US and NATO forces failed to sign a security deal leaving military troops beyond the 2014 drawdown, according to a Washington Post story. The security deal on the table would leave boots on the ground and provide billions more in aid to the impoverished country. But shockingly, the NIE report acknowledges the Taliban would likely take over the country by 2017 EVEN IF the U.S. provides the corrupt country $8 billion per year.
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However, despite 14 years of sustained war, many foreign policy experts contend the Taliban is the real power broker and point to an intelligence reporting that clearly demonstrates the ravages of war scales tip in favor of the Taliban.
“Of course the Taliban can take the country back,” said James Carafano, vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the Heritage.
Further evidence comes from a NBC and AFP reporting. “The seizures of the area in Ghazni, Afghanistan more than 100 villagers were killed in a battle that raged for a week, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP). And 15 people suspected of aiding the authorities were beheaded, BBC News reported. The dead included women targeted by a Taliban group that has aligned itself with Islamic State militants, a group formerly known as ISIS.”
Proof of this can be found in a Radio Free Afghanistan video posted “apparently showing three masked militants as they declared themselves members of the Islamic Organization of Great Afghanistan and stood in front of the black flag used by the Islamic State,” NBC described.
Equally concerning is the Taliban’s control of newly-minted President Ghazni’s Ajrestan district, located 125 miles from the capital city of Kabul. Priority number one for the co-leaders will be standing up to the Taliban and pushing back the substantial gains they’ve made.
“Peace with the Taliban requires a strong government. At the moment, the Taliban think they can fight in every province and they believe they can overthrow the government,” Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq, Abdullah’s running mate and the leader of Afghanistan’s ethnic Hazara minority told Reuters. “Without international support it will be hard to provide security … The example of Ajrestan district shows that without international commitment of troops, it will be difficult to handle the Taliban.”
A senior State Department official was more hopeful the bilateral agreement would work in America’s favor. “Both the Bilateral Security Agreement and the NATO SOFA provide security to Afghans and are in the long-term best interests of Afghanistan, enabling the country and its citizens to continue to build on the gains made in the past 13 years … I think the inauguration was marked by significant speeches by both President Ghani and CEO Abdullah, laying out, in President Ghani’s case, a broad and ambitious reform agenda. So in terms of the specifics about the BSA, as I think many of you know, it provides our military service members the necessary legal framework to carry out the two critical missions post-2014: targeting the remnants of al-Qaida; and training, advising, and assisting the Afghan National Security Forces.”
The National Intelligence Estimate report, which includes input from 16 intelligence agencies in the U.S., predicted that the Taliban would become more influential as the American military draws down its troops in Afghanistan.
The report also added “Afghanistan might fall into chaos if Kabul refuses to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) that allows the U.S. forces to remain in Afghanistan beyond the planned 2014 pullout. The assessment comes amid Washington’s pressure on Kabul to sign the controversial security agreement for continued U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.”
Corroborating the NIE report are 1,000’s of WikiLeaks documents that chronicle U.S. knowledge of the unlimited corruption and a likely return to tribal rule in Afghanistan.
Additional WikiLeaks embassy cables highlight the country’s utter failure to establish a centralized functioning government. One of the key obstacles blocking progress remains the infighting among warring tribal elders. The result of continued incompetence is billions of missing U.S. dollars (SIGAR report here). Further, the cables demonstrate that once US/NATO forces depart chaos will ensue, much like the current sectarian violence in Iraq.
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