NATO forces “are fleeing Afghanistan” in “humiliation and disgrace”, proclaims the Taliban as the US-led war in the country enters its twelfth year.
”With the help of Allah, the valiant Afghans under the Jihadi leadership of Islamic Emirates defeated the military might and numerous strategies of America and NATO alliance,” the Taliban said in a statement Sunday.
Foreign forces have already started leaving the country ravaged by the war on terror the US proclaimed after the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington.
Driven by its pledge to eliminate Al-Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden, the US has been sending hundreds of troops to Afghanistan first to topple the Taliban government, which had been harboring bin Laden, and then to contain the Taliban-lead insurgency.
“And now after eleven years of unceasing terror, tyranny, crimes and savagery, they are fleeing Afghanistan with such humiliation and disgrace that they are struggling to provide an explanation,” says the Taliban.
The US began the war in Afghanistan on October 7, 2001. Kabul and the hard-line Taliban regime fell quickly with few American casualties, but then President George W. Bush diverted forces to Iraq. This left his NATO allies without sufficient firepower and allowed the Taliban to grow into a formidable military threat by 2006.
With Western-backed President, Hamid Karzai, ascending to power, some 130,000 troops from 50 countries have been sent to support his government. But instead, a surge of violence, especially in the last five years, followed. This resulted in a total of 3,199 NATO soldiers being killed in fighting. Over 2,100 of this number are Americans, according to icasualties.com.
The war also came at a high cost to the Afghan people. The UN estimates that over 13,000 civilians were killed in the conflict between 2007 and mid-2012. If count were to be started at the beginning of the invasion in 2001, most experts put the death toll at over 20,000.
“Most arguably, the only accomplishment, dubious as it is, is that opium production has skyrocketed,” international affairs commentator Rick Rozoff told RT. “In terms of the Afghan people who suffered indignities, bombing and helicopter gun attacks, unspeakable massacres of the sort that occurred in Kandahar in March of this year – they certainly have nothing to be grateful to NATO.”
Many analysts also believe that the Taliban will quickly recapture power in Afghanistan no sooner than the core of the foreign combat forces leaves. By the end of this year, only 108,000 allied troops, including 68,000 from the US, will remain. Their main task is to train the Afghan National Security Forces that are to replace them after a total withdrawal in 2014.
Washington and NATO hope Afghan forces will take over the fight against the Taliban after 2014. But many analysts see a multi-factional civil war ahead.
“Whether the Afghan national army is capable of providing security in the country – it is not even questionable. They simply will not,” says Rick Rozoff. But, he reminds, NATO is not really leaving Afghanistan. Bases with limited contingent will remain after 2014 to maintain security and continue training the Afghan army.
After the Vietnam War, this is the longest running war for the US. Although Obama has pledged that most US combat troops will leave by the end of 2014, allied troops are still dying in Afghanistan at a rate of one a day, the AP estimates. The outcome of the war hangs in the balance, with the outcome of the America’s presidential elections likely to hold some sway, but Rick Rozoff doubts US military boots could go back to the heated Afghan soil.
“I don’t think that the American public has a stomach for that – or any politician in this country, be it Barack Obama after he is reelected or Mitt Romney if he takes his place, would dare such a move,” he told RT.