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The altering tactics of US war and the consequences 

Published Date: July 29, 2017

 

Since the past several weeks, Afghan forces, a school and a large number of civilians were targeted by the US airstrikes. According to the reports, the US troops carried out an airstrike on Afghan soldiers in Greshk district of Helmand province several weeks ago which killed 15 of them. Overall, within five days (between 16 and 21 July), the US has carried out 52 air strikes only in Helmand province.

In the meanwhile, the spokesman for the governor of Kunduz said that NATO forces had mistakenly targeted the Mashhad High School instead of Ghaltan High School, where the Taliban were hidden. Head of the Mashhad High School has also confirmed the attack and has said that the assault was carried out at 4 am. [1] However, the NATO forces denying the responsibility for the attack has quoted the Afghan National Directorate of Security that a gas tank had exploded in the school. [2]

Moreover, a US drone struck a death ceremony in the Haska Mina of Jalalabad leaving around ten civilians dead and several others injured, according to the initial reports. [3] It is not the first time that such a tragedy occurs in Haska Mina; before this, the US air forces had bombed a wedding ceremony on 6 July 2008 killing 47 civilians.

How has the US war changed after the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) between Kabul and Washington? Why is the Afghan government silent against the US airstrikes? With the new administration coming into play in the US, how the US war tactics have changed and what will be the consequences? These are the questions that are analyzed here.

 

The US war after BSA

After the signature of BSA, the US war in Afghanistan changed in theory and the role of the US soldiers were limited to advising and training the Afghan forces; however, it was not the case in practice; the American troops were present in the battle ground.

According to the statistics of the US Air Forces, the US carried out 411 airstrikes in 2015 in various parts of Afghanistan. According to another organization, the US has carried out 235 or 236 strikes in this year, in which between 989 and 1441 people are killed, among them were from 60 to 81 civilians, 3 to 17 of them children. [4]

The US Forces carried out 117 air assaults in 2016, and according to another organization, the number of these attacks in 2016 was between 69 and 73, which have killed 431 to 471 people including 15 to 22 civilians and children. [5]

Such attacks occurred twice in Kunduz as well, the most known of which was the airstrike on an MSF hospital. Each one of these assaults has caused serious death tolls to both Afghan civilians and Afghan forces, but we do not want to discuss them further here.  

 

Cruel bombings and the government’s silence

Since the formation of the National Unity Government (NUG) in Afghanistan, it is not the first time that Afghan civilians and Afghan soldiers are being targeted by foreign air strikes nor is it the first time that the Afghan government was silent against these attacks.

What is worse is that, sometimes, some officials of the NUG justify these attacks, instead of condemning them. For instance, after the attacks on civilians in Kunduz province, while the attack was internationally condemned, the Afghan Chief Executive released a statement in which he blamed the Taliban for the assault instead of criticizing foreign forces.

The bloody airstrike in Kunduz ten months ago was the only incident in the past three years about which the Afghan Presidential Palace and Chief Executive Office released statements and even in these statements they have not condemned the main elements behind the attack (the attackers). 

The question is why, compared to the Karzai’s government, the NUG does not raise its voice against the foreigners? Afghan officials are probably to respond this question; nonetheless, we can say that the first and foremost reason behind it is the “two-headedness” and weak status of the government. According to the US Ambassador in Afghanistan, after the beginning of his second tenure, Hamid Karzai was a non-strategic partner for the US because he would publicly criticize US deeds.

The second reason behind the silence of the NUG against foreigners is its reliance on them for survival. That is why the NUG does not want to annoy its partners by criticizing them. Also, in the second term of Karzai’s presidency, the Afghan government was not facing the current security and economic challenges either. Moreover, at that time, Karzai was in his second term of presidency, and he did not want to end it with silence.  

 

2017 and the deadly airstrikes

According to the recent report of UNAMA, the current year was the bloodiest year for civilians in Afghanistan. More civilians are killed in the first six months of this year than the entire past year, in all over Afghanistan, 1634 attacks have occurred[6], the largest number of strikes since 2011.

Only in June this year, the Americans have carried out 389 rocket attacks, more than the total number of attack in 2013. [7] At that time there were 50 thousand US soldiers in Afghanistan, and now there are less than 10 thousand US forces in this country.

The statistics mentioned above indicate that the US war tactics have changed and now it mainly relies on air strikes; however, the US does not care whether or not these assaults hit the target. On the other hand, it shows that still the Afghan air forces are not self-reliant and their existence and fight are probably relevant with the airstrikes of the foreigners.

Such blind attacks by foreigners can have two consequence in the war against them. First, it will further turn the people against the foreigners and, hence, will increase the existing hatred against the foreigners. Second, even the Afghan soldiers are not spared in these irresponsible strikes of the foreigners, the trust gap between the two allied forces will increase, and it will also result in the augmentation of the number of green on blue attacks. Only in the past two months, the American troops are targeted twice by the Afghan soldiers. On the other hand, the mysterious silence of the Afghan government will increase the distance between the nation and the state.  

The end

[1] Heart of Asia, NATO airstrikes targets school in Kunduz, 16 July 2017, see it online: http://www.heartofasia.af/index.php/national2/item/4442-nato-airstrike-targets-school-in-kunduz

[2] Pajhwok, NATO denies airstrikes hit Kunduz school, 15 July 2017, see it online: http://m.pajhwok.com/en/2017/07/15/nato-denies-airstrikes-hit-kunduz-school

[3] Pajhwok, 10 civilians killed in Haska Mena drone strike, see it online:

http://www.pajhwok.com/en/subscription-required?redirect_from=489767

[4] See online:

https://voiceofpeopletoday.com/get-the-data-a-list-of-us-air-and-drone-strikes-afghanistan-2015-2016/

[5] For further information, please visit the link below:

https://voiceofpeopletoday.com/get-the-data-a-list-of-us-air-and-drone-strikes-afghanistan-2015-2016/

[6] Washington Post, US Air Strikes in Afghanistan are at levels not seen since Obama troop surge, 17 July 2017, see it online:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2017/07/17/u-s-airstrikes-in-afghanistan-are-at-levels-not-seen-since-obama-troop-surge/

[7] Guardian, Afghanistan: civilian deaths at record high in 16 year war says UN, see it online:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/17/civilian-deaths-in-afghanistan-war-at-record-high-says-un

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