Afghanistan's Unwinnable War?
The horrific vehicle bomb attack that killed dozens of mainly Afghan civilians in Kabul's diplomatic quarter earlier today, a place within the city's fortified 'Green Zone', is the latest depressing event in the country's descent into instability and chaos since the Taliban, who had briefly appeared defeated after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, mounted their comeback around 14 years ago. Since the withdrawal of most of NATO's forces in 2014, the situation on the ground has become bleaker with every 'spring offensive' launched by the Taliban. Today, as much as one-third of Afghanistan is under Taliban control, Islamic State is a dangerous foe on the scene, and the stalemate between these warring factions and the Afghan government of President Ashraf Ghani shows no sign of abating. The question is whether the US and its NATO allies will feel that sending more troops to Afghanistan is the only option to break the stalemate. The evidence from the past does not inspire much confidence in the effectiveness of the military response. Diplomacy is clearly fraught with challenges, but remains Afghanistan's best hope for a more stable future. A power-sharing deal involving the Taliban and the government of Afghanistan could well be the best outcome for the country, but whether the two sides are prepared to negotiate such an agreement is debatable. Only time will tell what the future brings for Afghanistan, but its ordinary citizens are long deserving of a settled and prosperous nation.
Source: UNAMA Annual Report (2016) on Afghanistan: Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict
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Author: Peter Lowe
I am particularly interested in the geographical dimension to conflicts, as well as the geographical aspects to development and globalisation issues.