The latest US intelligence report concludes the war against the Taliban has reached an impasse, with the Taliban remaining committed to taking back Afghanistan by force as soon as NATO troops leave the country.
Two current and one former US official speaking on condition of anonymity told AP the intelligence community’s take on the war is that the Taliban may only be paying lip service to peace talks with NATO and Afghan government.
The classified Afghan National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) declares the war at a stalemate, with NATO security gains far outweighed by corruption at all levels of Afghan government.
The report also finds special operations raids and programs to bolster local Afghan security are somewhat effective in degrading the Taliban, but it returns as soon as NATO forces withdraw from an area. The assessment also questions the overall success of the longest war in US history.
The document analyzes possible future scenarios for Afghanistan, “especially with respect to the motivations of the Taliban,” an official told Reuters. The estimate states that the weak government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai will not be able to survive when US will pull its forces out of the country and reduces its assistance to military and civilians.
The military and Pentagon officials called report’s findings incorrect, flawed and overly pessimistic. Top commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, John Allen, argued that the US is not planning to withdraw the troops before they are certain Afghan troops can handle the job.
“If you [have] been waiting for us to go, we’re not leaving,” he said, as cited by USA Today.
At the moment the US has some 90,000 troops in Afghanistan and more than 30,000 NATO allies’ troops are present in the embattled country. By summer of 2012 US plan to reduce the number of their soldiers by 22,000.
The NIE findings are unlikely to jeopardize the US course in Afghanistan as the Obama administration plans to withdraw the majority of troops and 2015 deadline has been set for putting Afghan forces in charge of security.
The United States is expected to keep some troops in Afghanistan after the end of 2014 to focus on counter-terrorism and watch out for US interests in a volatile region, as well to train and assist the Afghans.
And while Washington hopes to secure a deal with the Taliban prior to the withdrawal of US forces, Zaid Hamid, a Defence Analyst at the independent think thank BrassTacks, told RT the soon to be resumed peace talks are virtually doomed to fail.
“There is no possibility that those [peace] talks will be successful, they are just a farce that is going on. In reality, on the ground the Taliban are trying to take up the initiative, [to take advantage] of US weaknesses. But the terms that the Taliban have given – the withdrawal of the extra-regional forces, the collapse of the Kabul regime – the conditions that have been given by the Taliban are such that they can never be accepted by the Americans or the Kabul regime. The peace talks mean nothing.”