PICTURED: U.S. F-16 Vipers Fly over Afghanistan in 2020.
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan. March 17th. 2021. Spokesperson for the U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Colonel Sonny Leggett announced on Twitter that airstrikes have pounded Taliban forces in four districts in Kandahar Province.
Leggett said the Taliban were attacking Afghan Security Forces (ASF) positions, as they did throughout almost all of 2020, and that therefore they were permitted to attack in defense of the government’s troops. Why CENTCOM waited until now before launching so-called defense attacks, is anyone’s guess.
According to Stars and Stripes, a clause exists in the Doha Agreement, made last February that was intended to pave the way for peace and a total withdraw, that allows the United States to utilize air power to attack the Taliban if they in turn are attacking the ASF.
The Taliban deny such a clause exists, who for their part, since putting pen to paper, haven’t attacked American or any NATO entity for the last 13 months.
“We strongly condemn these bombardments and crimes by the American invaders,” Taliban spokesman Qari Yousaf Ahmadi said in a statement. “This is clearly a violation of the Doha agreement”.
Indeed February 8th marked the first year in which no American soldiers died through military causes in America’s longest war.
Looking for a way out
The attacks come a month after Biden immediately took the Doha Agreement to review, following the Congressionally-appointed Afghanistan Study Group recommendation of staying to avoid the inevitable civil war. It what seemed to be an obvious conflict of interest, the study group was filled with defense industry advisors, lobbyists, and even board members, as well as former military personnel.
One such member is former JCS Chair Joseph Dunford, who after leaving the position during the Trump Administration, immediately took a board member position on Raytheon, one of the largest manufacturers of bombs and precision guided munitions like the ones that would have struck the Taliban.
The Doha Agreement states that all foreign forces would be gone from the country by May 1st. Joe Biden was quoted in an interview on Wednesday that the withdrawal date would be “tough” and mentioned several times that the decision was in the process of review.
“And so we’re in consultation with our allies as well as the government, and that decision’s in process now,” Biden said, according to The Hill.
If indeed the withdrawal date is postponed, the Taliban have vowed renewed violence against Americans, which would be hard to justify reciprocating, at least with ground forces, when they have already fulfilled the part of the deal that has kept the U.S. military in the country for so many years: the so-called “safe haven myth”.
The Taliban have already issued orders that the only fighters in their ranks are to be Afghans, and that foreigners and extremists are not to be welcomed. Further, the Taliban used to regularly brag to the government in Kabul about how many Daesh, or IS fighters they’ve killed, and the Brookings Institute have found that foreign fighters are hinderances and dangerous to the groups they join, which would be obvious to the Taliban, who were attacked by the United States for welcoming al-Qaeda before and after the 9/11 Attacks.
The reason for delaying the May 1st withdrawal is that despite hundreds of billions of U.S. dollars, the government in Kabul is too corrupt, too disliked, and too unable to inspire loyalty and win battles to survive a war against the Taliban.
Biden and his State Sec. Blinken will look to secure a power-sharing agreement to try and avoid the civil war that will inevitably happen with a United States retreat.