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How Obama Lost Afghanistan

Vijeta Uniyal | Gatestone

  • The Taliban seems to have correctly assessed the lack of resolve of the current U.S. leadership and have evidently decided to go for all of Afghanistan.
  • What is visible to everyone except Obama is that this “weak” Putin continues to outflank the U.S. in Ukraine, Crimea and now Syria. The U.S. Commander-in-Chief has failed to show the fortitude required from the leader of the free world.
  • President Obama reportedly offered to strong-arm India into making concessions on Kashmir. According to Pakistan’s former Ambassador to the U.S., Obama secretly wrote to Pakistan’s President in 2009, sympathizing with Pakistan’s stand on Kashmir, and apparently offering to tell India that “the old ways of doing business are no longer acceptable.”
  • The results of a Taliban reconquest of Afghanistan would be even more disastrous than its previous reign of terror. The Taliban would not only resume sending trained jihadists across Pakistan’s border to wage war on “infidels” in India, they would also carry out their declared objective of global jihad against the West.
  • With Europe’s borders now wide open, the West is more vulnerable than ever.

The President who gave up Syria and Yemen without a fight is now leading a half-hearted counter-offensive in Afghanistan. The Taliban seems to have correctly assessed the lack of resolve of the current U.S. leadership and has evidently decided to retake all of Afghanistan.

In his first presidential campaign of 2008, then-Senator Obama called U.S. engagement in Iraq the “bad war” and instead wanted his country to focus on Afghanistan – his “good war.”

But after U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq in 2011, large parts of Iraq fell under the control of the Islamic State (ISIS), while the remaining part came under the influence of Iran.

So how is U.S. President Obama’s “good war” in Afghanistan going?

On September 29, 2015, Taliban fighters overran the Afghan provincial capital, Kunduz. The takeover created the biggest victory for the Taliban since 2001, when US-led coalition drove the Taliban regime out of Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks in New York.

Since its ouster, the Taliban has been lurking in tribal regions, and launching sporadic terrorist attacks in the city. But the Taliban had never succeeding in taking over a population center. With the fall of Kunduz, the Taliban now controls the fifth largest city in Afghanistan.

Taliban militiamen
Taliban militiamen sit atop a US-supplied Humvee that they captured from the Afghan Army, after their conquest of Kunduz last week. (Image source: Al Jazeera video screenshot).

The on September 29, Taliban forces, launched a coordinated attack on Kunduz from three directions. The Afghan Army failed to offer any significant resistance and rushed for cover at the city’s airport. Apparently the Afghan soldiers were hoping for aerial reinforcements from US-led coalition forces. Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry spokesman, Sediq Sediqqi, confirmed that the city of Kunduz had fallen into “the hands of the enemies.”

Despite heavy U.S. airstrikes, the Taliban are evidently well dug in, indicating that the terror militiamen intend to hold onto their recent territorial gains and have no intention of retreating. Clearly this Taliban is not the hit-and-run one of yesteryear. It seems to be a new Islamist force, bent on conquest, and ready to challenge the U.S. and coalition forces.

Although the Afghan Army, directed by the President Ashraf Ghani’s government in Kabul, has failed to mount a counteroffensive to the advancing Taliban forces, the blame for the wider military and geopolitical disaster probably deserves to go to Obama.

President Obama never fails to remind the world that he commands “the strongest military that the world has ever known;” and indeed the strength of United States’ military might and the courage of its brave men and women in uniform are beyond question. But the Commander-in-Chief has failed to show the fortitude required from the leader of the Free World.

Additionally, Obama seem to have established a pattern of underestimating America’s adversaries. He famously called ISIS a “jay-vee team,” and recently stated that Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, went into Syria “out of weakness.” But what is visible to everyone except Obama, presumably, is that this “weak” Putin has been outflanking the United States in Ukraine, Crimea and now in Syria. It is Obama who seems weak.

As with his approach elsewhere, Obama has been alienating allies and strengthening foes.

In an apparent attempt to persuade Pakistan to stop supporting Al-Qaeda and its affiliates, President Obama offered to strong-arm India into making concessions on Kashmir. According to Pakistan’s former Ambassador from Pakistan to the U.S., Husain Haqqani, President Obama secretly wrote to Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari in 2009, sympathizing with Pakistan’s stand of Kashmir and apparently offering to tell India that “the old ways of doing business are no longer acceptable.”

According to the Haqqani’s account, made public in 2013, Pakistan, the recipient of billions of dollars of U.S. assistance annually, rejected President Obama’s offer, and continued to train, arm and shelter international terrorists – including Osama bin Laden. Many of these terrorists directly planned and carried out operations that killed nearly 2,000 and wounding 20,000 U.S. service personnel.

President Obama thereby alienated India while getting nothing in return from Pakistan.

India’s would not have need much convincing to back U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. New Delhi shared Kabul’s concerns over rising Islamic militancy in the region. India also faces an existential threat from Islamic militancy in Muslim-majority Kashmir province and beyond. Since mid-199os, terrorism has claimed more than 30,000 civilians and security personnel in India in total nationwide casualties.

President Obama, when in India, apparently preferred to play the “travelling salesman” for the religion of Islam, repeatedly smacking Hindus for being intolerant to its Muslim minority, negating what has appeared the attempted genocide and ethnic cleansing of Hindus that began 70 decades ago with the creation of Islamic Republic of Pakistan and continues to this day. Not only were millions of Hindus forced out of Pakistan and Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan) when the two countries were created in 1947, but the remaining Hindu populations in Pakistan and Bangladesh were nearly expelled or exterminated during the following decades. The ethnic cleansing culminated in the Bangladesh Genocide of 1971 perpetrated by Pakistan army. It killed some three million ethnic Hindus and Bangladeshis and forced more than 10 million refugees to flee into India. By contrast, the Muslim population in India has grown from 35 million in the early 1950s to about 180 million in 2015, making India home to the world’s second largest Muslim population, second only to Indonesia, followed by Pakistan.

The Taliban’s offensive in Afghanistan is the direct result of Obama Administration’s consistent policy of alienating friends and emboldening enemies. Be it Israel, Iran, Egypt or Afghanistan, President Obama has evidently preferred dealing with Islamist and Jihadist actors, rather than with liberal, secular democratic forces.

The results of a Taliban retake of Afghanistan would be even more disastrous than its previous reign of terror. The Taliban would not only resume sending trained Jihadists across Pakistan’s border to wage war on “infidels” in India; it would also carry out its declared objective of global Jihad against the West. With Europe’s border now wide open, the West is more vulnerable than ever. This time, however, al-Qaeda would not need to sneak secretly into terror cells; it would be able to regroup entire combat units in the heart of Europe.

Vijeta Uniyal is an Indian current affairs analyst based in Europe.

Source: GATESTONE

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