Afghan withdrawal halt ‘represents failure for Obama administration’
RT: American troops have been in Afghanistan since 2001. What have they brought to the peace process there?
Chris Bambery: There is no peace process in Afghanistan. We should remember that President Obama was first elected with a promise to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan. This announcement - American troops are likely to remain in Afghanistan when he has left the White House - so, this represents a failure for the Obama administration. And we have chaos represented by the ability of the Taliban to take the city of Kunduz, however, temporarily. The disaster of the American bombing of the Médecins Sans Frontières hospital.
What it shows is that the Taliban capacity to wage war in Afghanistan has not been reduced. In fact, if anything it is growing in terms of geography of the Taliban presence. We have the Americans openly saying ISIS is also building up a presence in Afghanistan. The government is unable to deal with this situation because it is divided; the actual result is contested as we know. And the army despite the massive efforts by the Americans and NATO to train it is unable to fight. When the Americans first began pulling back from ground operations, they knew the Taliban infiltrated the Afghan army and questioned its reliability. All in all, this remains a failed state the biggest producer of heroin in the world…
RT: America claims the troops in one way or another will be in the country as long as the situation is unstable there. Taking into account the recent rise of the Taliban, what are the chances of a full withdrawal?
CB: [Obama] is talking about possible reducing of troops to 5,500 by the end of next year. But we were told that all that were going to remain – were Embassy guards and some trainers for the NATO forces.
The defeat of Kunduz - and that is what it is, even though the Taliban were eventually chased out of the city- has shown Obama that the Americans still need to be there, that the Afghan army can’t deal with this situation.
So, that is an indictment of the huge efforts to try and build up and train the Afghan army - they are unable get and handle the security situation inside the country. So, the Americans are still going to be there…
We have to add as well a huge number of mercenaries there from America and from the West. And I think it is likely we are going to see the West and American troops involved in ground fighting, for fighting really in attempt to deal with Taliban incursions like that in Kunduz. And, incidentally, more drone attacks, more helicopters attacks like those on the hospital in Kunduz, further civilian casualties, fueling support for the Taliban on the ground - because every civilian death, drone strike or air strike brings resentment to the American presence. All this is really some kind of recipe for a disaster. And the history is not going to prove very kind to President Obama in regard to his efforts in Afghanistan.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.