Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, June 22nd, 2018

MOAB Triggers Mixed Reaction

The ‘Mother Of All Bombs’ used by the US military against the self-styled Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), also known as Daesh, in Nangarhar province was a blow to this group. The 9,797kg GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) left about 96 casualties behind and the ISIS’s high-profile leaders such as Abu-Bakr, Hamza, Shaheed Omar and Hafiz Saeed’s brother, Wolkan Osama, are said to be among the dead. It has been a message of threat to the terrorist groups, mainly the ISIS and the Taliban. 

The massive bomb was dropped after fighting intensified over the past week and US-backed ground forces struggled to advance on the area. A US Special Forces soldier was killed last Saturday in Nangarhar while conducting anti-ISIL operations.

ISIS has made inroads into Afghanistan in recent years, attracting disaffected members of the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban as well as Uzbek fighters. But the group has been steadily losing ground in the face of heavy pressure both from US air raids and a ground offensive led by Afghan forces. The bomb attack was hailed by the US President “very successful mission”.

This massive bomb has prompted mixed feelings in Afghanistan. The Ghani administration supported the strike saying that it had been a joint mission; however, the Afghan former President Hamid Karzai denounced the attack and called it a violation of Afghan territorial integrity. According to him, the US had used “nuclear bomb” in Achin district of Nangarhar province and Afghan people should stand against the cruelty of US. It comes as the US had already stated that it was “non-nuclear bomb” and used to prevent from the casualties of Afghan soldiers and civilians. Additionally, the Taliban also condemned the attack.

However, Afghans will welcome serious strikes against terrorist groups, be it Taliban or ISIS. Afghanistan’s security has been undermined by the armed opposition groups which has been a slap in the face of democracy. It goes without saying that people’s rights and freedoms have been widely trampled by terrorist networks and Afghan nation suffers from escalated insurgency within more than a decade despite democratic movement. Terrorism, indeed, hampers democracy across the country and militant fighters leave no stone unturned to put pressure on the National Unity Government (NUG). ISIS group is believed to be a pawn in a big political game. Don’t you think that it should be rooted out from the country instantaneously?

The use of this massive bomb comes as Moscow arranged to host a meeting on Friday about the stability in Afghanistan. The Friday meeting was held without the presence of the US envoy that called it legalizing the Taliban through giving them role in peace process. However, Russia said that its contact with the Taliban was due to the Russia-Taliban’s common (hostile) attitude towards the ISIS. Russia also staged heavy strikes against the ISIS group in Syria. Despite this fact, the use of MOAB does not seem to bridge the gap between the two countries. Since both the countries show concerns about peace and stability in Afghanistan, do not you think that it will be more fruitful if the US and Russia hold joint military attacks against terrorist networks in Afghanistan?

By and large, there is still not an optimistic view about the impact of this bomb. According to political pundits, using such bombs will not put an end to terrorism in Afghanistan as they never did before. For instance, during the NATO’s combat mission in Afghanistan, the GBU-43 had been tested in 2003 and Taliban’s hideouts were bombarded heavily, however, the “war on terror” was not proved effective. To avoid backlash from warring factions, it is believed that it will be more effective to take silent but strong approach towards the ISIL and Taliban groups.

Regardless of the magnitude of the bomb’s effect, Hamid Karzai’s strong reaction to this attack came a surprise to the public. He is also said to have a meeting with the Russia’s Ambassador. It reveals the fact that Karzai’s view is in conflict with Ghani’s administration. During the ending period of his presidency, Karzai also criticized the NATO night raid in the country and held out against signing security pact with the US. He said NATO-led night raids and home searches are preventing the country from signing a strategic partnership with the US. “Arbitrary operations and home searches have been a serious problem between NATO and Afghanistan for several years,” Karzai reiterated. “This has been one of the main obstacles for signing the Afghanistan-US strategic partnership pact.” But now he is expected to go in accordance with the NUG and cooperate with the state for peace and political stability – this will be a more positive role.

To strengthen democracy and protect the rights and liberty of the nation, the terrorist outfits need to be combated strongly. It is crystal clear that the militant fighters have inflicted heavy casualties upon Afghan combatants and non-combatants. Hence, none of the terrorist attacks should go unanswered. It should be noted that the ISIL fighters seek firm foothold in the country through preaching their ideology and recruiting teenagers. Their dream should not come true in Afghanistan. Otherwise, the graph of fatalities will rise further and the bleeding will never stop.