There is little doubt that one of President Donald Trump’s top foreign policy priorities upon taking office was to confront head-on the threat posed to America by radical Islamic terrorism, with the first major target being the barbaric Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.
Now that the so-called caliphate has been essentially decimated in less than a year, attention has shifted toward the Taliban in Afghanistan, and a “new strategy” that includes a greatly stepped-up air campaign has been implemented to try and bring a victorious end to the 17-year-old conflict.
According to Breitbart, that strategy may be having an effect already, as the Afghan Taliban — or Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, as they like to call themselves — just released something of an open letter addressed to “The American people, officials of independent non-governmental organizations and the peace loving Congressmen,” which pleaded with them to pressure Trump into abruptly ending the protracted fight in the war-torn nation.
The letter laid out the reasons why, in the view of the Taliban, former President George W. Bush invaded Afghanistan in the first place — eliminating terrorists, restoring law and order and eradicating narcotics — and noted that none of those objectives had been achieved, despite great sacrifice of blood and treasure.
Indeed, it is estimated that the Taliban controls nearly half the country, that terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and now even the Islamic State group are still present, lawless corruption and violence still reign in many areas and poppy cultivation (which produces heroin and other opioids, from which the Taliban profits) is at unprecedented levels.
The letter noted that “3,546 American and foreign soldiers have been killed,” and tens of thousands more have been wounded physically and mentally at a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars, which they repeatedly pointed out was “collected from you as taxes and revenues.”
As to the new strategy of Trump in Afghanistan — which involves fewer restrictions on the U.S. military and a stepped-up air campaign specifically targeting revenue generation — the Taliban’s letter proclaimed, “If the policy of using force is exercised for a hundred more years and a hundred new strategies are adopted, the outcome of all of these will be the same as you have observed over the last six months following the initiation of Trump’s new strategy.”
This is bragging only a liberal could believe.
Instead of continuing to duke it out for years on end, the Taliban is now begging the American people, non-governmental organizations and institutions and “peace-loving” members of Congress to somehow put a stop to Trump’s strategy and allow for peace talks to take place — a seemingly sure sign that the new strategy is having the desired effect.
To that point, the U.K. Guardian noted a response to the letter from the U.S. State Department which suggested that both the American and Afghan governments were open to peace talks, but only if the Taliban took the first step of ending its campaign of violence.
“The Taliban statement alone does not show willingness to engage in peace talks. The Taliban’s recent horrific terror attacks in Kabul speak louder than these words,” a State representative told The Guardian. “The Afghan government can only negotiate to end the war if the Taliban are ready. The recent attacks show this is not the case.”
Though some may view the letter as a defiant “we aren’t going anywhere” type of message and others may view it as a subtle plea for peace to stop their own mounting losses, a former United Nations and European Union negotiator named Michael Semple suggested it was actually a glimpse into the internal struggle between the Taliban hardliners in Afghanistan and Pakistan and their more politically-moderate element based in Qatar.
But a former senior civilian representative of NATO in Afghanistan named Simon Gass hit the nail on the head when he viewed the letter largely as not only a bid to ease the pressure on themselves, but also an attempt to drive a wedge between the U.S. political factions, other allies and the Afghan government.
“Although the Taliban have had success on the ground, it has come at a big price in terms of losses. Morale is said by experts not to be great, particularly given the faction fighting which followed the deaths of (Taliban leaders) Mullah Omar and Mullah Mansour,” stated Gass.
“The encroachment of ISIS is a problem for the Taliban — they may be feeling the heat. The U.S. intention to raise force levels will also discourage them. So this could be a significant move,” he continued. “But it could also be a tactic designed to disarm those in the U.S. who are against any troop increase and to divide the Afghan and U.S. governments.”
The Taliban likely enjoyed the eight years of the prior administration that drew down and tied the hands of the military, actions that allowed the Taliban to flourish — but those days are over in the Trump administration. Now that the gloves have come off of the military, the Taliban is none too pleased to have been repeatedly punched in the mouth by emboldened and unleashed coalition forces.
It will be interesting to see if this letter has any sort of effect in moving along any sort of peace process. We can only wonder how long it will take before Democrats, deluded by their anti-Trump hatred, take up the cause of the violently oppressive Taliban as part of their staunch opposition to everything done by Trump.
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