A Washington-based research center has found that almost half of all American’s feel the US’s second longest war – Afghanistan – has after 17 years not reached its desired goals.
On 7 October 2001 the US launched Operation Enduring Freedom with the United Kingdom – in an effort to arrest leaders of al-Qaeda, including Osama bin Laden, who had been given sanctuary by the then Taliban government.
Soon the two nations were joined by other forces, including the Northern Alliance which had been fighting the Taliban in the ongoing civil war since 1996.
In December 2001, the United Nations Security Council established the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), to assist the Afghan interim authorities with securing Kabul and in the same month, at the Bonn Conference, Hamid Karzai was selected to head the Afghan Interim Administration, which after a 2002 loya jirga in Kabul became the Afghan Transitional Administration.
In the elections of 2004, Karzai was elected president of the country
In August 2003, NATO joined and became involved in ISAF. But following their defeat in the initial invasion, the Taliban reorganized under the leadership of their late leader Mullah Omar, and launched an insurgency against the government and ISAF in 2003.
Seventeen years later, the situation has not changed – and for many it has gotten worse – with Afghans and Americans stating the US has failed in Afghanistan.
Washington’s Pew Research Center conducted the study between September 18 and 24 this year and found that about 49 percent of all American adult respondents believe that the US has mostly failed to achieve its goals in Afghanistan.
The findings show that about a third, 35 percent of the respondents, believe that Washington has reached its objectives in Afghanistan while another 16 percent says that they do not know if the US has failed or succeeded in Afghanistan.
Deputy speaker of the Meshrano Jirga (Upper House of Parliament), Mohammad Alam Ezedyar, meanwhile said: “Afghanistan should not be the battle field (for countries) in the region.”
In the meantime, findings of another recent report, by the Washington-based Heritage Foundation, show that after 17 years of US involvement in the war in Afghanistan, Washington was still worried about al-Qaeda’s presence in Afghanistan.
“We are tired of this situation, we should try not to become an examination center (a playground) for others, especially US and Russia,” senate speaker Fazl Hadi Muslimyar said.
However, concerns continue to rise over the toll the war is taking on the country – especially on civilians.
On Sunday, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) released a special report on civilian casualties due to IEDs – both suicide bombings and other explosive devices.
The report stated that in the third quarter of this year there has been a sharp increase in civilian casualties due to IEDs. For the first nine months of 2018, 1,065 civilians were killed and 2,569 others wounded in IED and suicide bombings alone.
This spike in civilian casualties has however coincided with a change in tactics by the Taliban who have, in the past few years, launched major attacks on three key cities in the country. On each occasion, the group has managed to take control of sections of these cities for a short time.
The cities attacked by the Taliban were Kunduz, Farah and the latest Ghazni – in August – which witnessed heavy fighting for three days.
But as one Military Training Academy commander, Amin Wahidi, said: “As the enemy changes its tactics, we change the level of training.”
Defense Ministry spokesman, Ghafoor Ahmad Jawed, said however that people do not give the security forces enough credit. He said: “Morale, power and our achievements are more than what people say.”