Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, August 8th, 2020

Fear of Civil War Looms Large with a Hasty Troop Pullout

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Fear of Civil War Looms Large with  a Hasty Troop Pullout

Afghans view the Taliban outfit with mistrust as its fighters intensified their attacks despite signing peace agreement with the United States. The Taliban are said to share close tie with al-Qaeda and their escalated militancy signal their lukewarm response to the start of the intra-Afghan dialogue.
Afghans and a number of political pundits fear the hasty US troop withdrawal will push the country to a civil war as the Taliban are unlikely to honor their deal with Washington.
Historians note that the Soviet-installed government in Kabul held on to control after the withdrawal of Moscow’s troops in 1989 – and fell to the Taliban only after Boris. N. Yeltsin, the new president of a post-Communist Russia, came to power in 1991 and eliminated the large-scale assistance that had flowed to the Kremlin’s former allies in Kabul.
“The Taliban will have little to lose from signing a deal that they can walk away from, and much to gain when the United States draws down its forces,” said Douglas London, a former senior officer in the C.I.A. He added, “Among the American troops that will depart are those who train the most effective government fighters, the Afghan special operations forces. Those commandos have had an outsize impact in relieving besieged Afghan cities. Neutralizing them is a key goal of Taliban and Haqqani field commanders.” He suggests the White House to negotiate separate deals with regional Taliban leaders and warlords.
One of the reasons the Taliban are not able to honor their deal with Washington is that it is hard for its leadership to convince its fighters and most ardent supporters to accept those provisions mentioned in the US-Taliban deal, after years of deriding the Kabul government as “illegitimate American stooges”. With this in mind, the Taliban seem to persist on the establishment of the “Islamic Emirate” in their talks with the Ghani administration so that they could convince their rank and file to stop violence.
“The real key to whether Afghanistan avoids falling into an even longer civil war is the degree to which the United States and NATO are willing to fund and train the Afghan security forces over the long term,” Mr. Stavridis is cited as saying. “When Vietnam collapsed and the helicopters were lifting off the roof of the US Embassy, it was the result of funding being stopped.”
The cost of the Afghanistan War for the Washington was high, with more than 2,400 troops killed and another 20,000 wounded in the fighting (another 1.100 NATO and non-NATO allied soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan, with more than 8,000 others wounded). As of 2019, the Department of Defense estimated the cost of the war at $737 billion.
The human cost for the people of Afghanistan has been equally severe. More than 130,000 civilians are believed to have lost their lives in Afghanistan, along with another 29,000 Afghan soldiers and police (another 20-35,000 Taliban are believed to have been killed.) The economic cost for Afghanistan is equally devastating, estimated at more than $21 billion a year.
With this in mind, if the Taliban do not adhere to their security guarantees and set new preconditions for the start of the intra-Afghan dialogue, the two decades of blood and treasure will be in vain. In such a case, the Taliban group will declare itself the winner. Worst, Afghanistan will backtrack and fall into a civil war. 
The people of Afghanistan fear that the return of the “Islamic Emirate” will undo the decades-long democratic achievements and put human rights and women’s rights at stake. Only the agreement will be acceptable to Afghan people if it guarantees their fundamental rights and freedoms and maintains constitutional principles and democratic gains.
According to general belief, a hasty troop pullout will make the security situation more fragile as it will embolden the Taliban fighters.
To safeguard Afghanistan’s democratic achievements and ensure lasting peace, the US and its international allies as well regional stakeholders have to put their weight behind the intra-Afghan dialogue and pressure the Taliban to sign a meaningful agreement – which has to guarantee women’s rights and freedoms and constitutional principles – with the Kabul administration. The Taliban should note that a sharia-based government is not acceptable to Afghan nation or state. Moreover, a number of countries, including the US, has pointed out that they would not support the establishment of the “Islamic Emirate”. The Trump administration must not push for a hasty troop pullout, either.  

Hujjatullah Zia is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan and freelance writer based in Kabul. He can be reached at zia_hujjat@yahoo.com

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