AN inspector general appointed by the US Congress to examine the war in Afghanistan has listed Washington’s failures in the 20 years of war in the Asian country, and says the US is bound to repeat those mistakes.
John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), said on Thursday that Washington had shifted its goals and set unrealistic timelines, among other mistakes, in the Afghanistan war.
‘Don’t believe what you’re told by the generals, or the ambassadors, or people in the administration saying we’re never going to do this again. That’s exactly what we said after Vietnam,’ Sopko said at a Defence Writers Group discussion with reporters.
‘We will do it again,’ he warned.
Sopko also said that US officials ‘knew how bad the Afghan military was.
‘But the average American, the average taxpayer, the average congressman, the average person working in the embassy wouldn’t know how bad it was,’ he said.
The inspector general made the remarks after his office submitted its latest SIGAR quarterly report to the US Congress, which provided a grim view of the war in Afghanistan.
The report came as the US military has withdrawn most of its troops from Afghanistan under a deal with the Taliban militant group that was reached last year.
The US’s 2001 invasion of Afghanistan ousted the Taliban from power, but it worsened the security situation in the country. The invasion, which has led to the longest war in US history, has left Afghanistan ‘poor, aid-dependent, and conflict-affected,’ according to the SIGAR report.
The document also said that the Afghan military appeared ‘surprised and unready, and is now on its back foot.
‘Civilian casualties hit a record high in May and June … the overall trend is clearly unfavourable to the Afghan government, which could face an existential crisis if it isn’t addressed and reversed,’ the report said.
And NATO general secretary Jens Stoltenberg has now said a ‘negotiated settlement’ is necessary in Afghanistan in the face of the Taliban’s military advance.
Meanwhile, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu says the United States is seeking to take root in Central Asia following its withdrawal from Afghanistan, where it faces complete failure.
Only last week US Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milley, claimed last that he had confidence in the ability of Afghan forces to fend off a Taliban takeover of the country. ‘I don’t think the end game is yet written,’ Milley said then.
The Taliban, who have intensified attacks across Afghanistan, now control about 212 of the country’s 419 district centres, according to the US military.
The US is also blamed for the surge in Taliban violence, because it has failed to stabilise the security situation in Afghanistan after two decades of war and occupation.
- Ismail Haniyeh, head of the political bureau of the Palestinian Hamas resistance movement has hit out at the African Union’s decision last week to grant observer status to Israel.
He slammed the move as being against all the values and principles on which the African bloc is founded.
In a letter addressed to Moussa Faki Mahamat, chair of the AU Commission, Haniyeh appreciated the historical positions of the African Union in support of Palestinian rights and their struggle to achieve freedom and independence.
He pointed out that the 55-member organisation is a reputable body that has long defended the rights of African nations to self-determination, freedom and independence, and stands with Palestinians and their just cause against the aggression and terrorism of the Tel Aviv regime.
The senior Hamas leader said: ‘It represents a severe blow to the Palestinian nation and their legitimate national rights as they struggle to get rid of the occupying Israeli regime.’
He expressed hope that the African Union Commission would ‘enhance communications with friendly states as well as international and regional organisations, at political, diplomatic and legal levels, in order to mobilise an international position that renews the demand for legitimate Palestinian rights, puts pressure on Israel to stop its settlement projects and confiscation of Palestinian lands, and exposes the crimes and aggression of the regime.’
Haniyeh also called upon the AU to criminalise Israeli violations and attacks, and help push the International Criminal Court to prosecute the Israeli authorities as war criminals, and not grant the Tel Aviv regime observer status at the continental body.
He warned Israel would only exploit the AU’s decision to perpetuate its existence, implement its colonial plans, continue its abhorrent occupation of Palestinian territories, and escalate its aggression against Palestinians and their lands.
And he urged the chairman of the AU Commission to reverse the decision ‘which is shocking to Palestinians and all African nations’, emphasising the measure does not reflect the historical positions of the AU towards the Palestinian cause.
Haniyeh finally called for practical steps to reject and criminalise normalisation with Israel, describing attempts to establish full diplomatic ties with the regime as a ‘grave and unforgivable sin’, and a ‘treacherous stab in the back of all Arabs, Muslims, Africans and all freedom-loving peoples of the world.’
On Thursday, Namibia joined South Africa and several African civil society groups in rejecting the AUC’s decision.
‘Granting observer status to an occupying power is contrary to the principles and objectives of the Constitutive Act of the African Union,’ Penda Naanda, executive director of Namibia’s Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation, said in a statement.
Naanda said it was wrong to grant Israel observer status, particularly at this time, when the regime is increasing its acts of oppression in total violation of international law and disregard for the human rights of the Palestinian people.
He also said the AU Commission’s decision was against the usual firm and solid commitments made by several African heads of state and governments who unequivocally support the Palestinian cause.
‘Namibia therefore disassociates itself from granting observer status to Israel,’ it said.
The southern African nation also declared that Israel can only be granted observer status at the AU on condition that it ceases to occupy Palestine and grants the Palestinian people the right to self-determination.
On Wednesday, the South African government said it was ‘appalled at the unjust and unwarranted decision’ to grant Israel observer status.
‘The African Union Commission has taken this decision unilaterally without consultations with its members,’ South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) said in a statement.
It said the decision to grant Israel an observer status is even more shocking in a year in which the oppressed people of Palestine were hounded by destructive bombardments and the continued construction of illegal settlements on their land.
On July 22, Israel attained observer status at the AU after nearly 20 years of lobbying.
Israel previously held observer status in the predecessor Organisation of African Unity until 2002, when the organisation was disbanded and replaced by the AU.
Pro-Palestine statements typically feature in statements delivered at the AU’s annual summits.
Palestine already has observer status at the African Union, and Israeli diplomats have criticised recent AU statements on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.