While US focuses on terrorism, Taliban set to score major victory in Afghanistan
While the US is focusing on security for the homeland and strategies to defeat ISIS, the Taliban in Afghanistan are now on the verge of a huge victory; the capture of Helmand province.
Helmand is one of the largest provinces in Afghanistan and has been considered the Taliban's home territory. British and American soldiers fought for years to keep the Taliban in check in the province. But now, with NATO troops on the sidelnes and out of combat, Afghan security forces are finding it increasingly difficult to hold on.
Afghanistan's Helmand province could fall to the Taliban after months of heavy fighting, with 90 members of the security forces killed over the past two days, the deputy governor of the volatile southern province warned on Sunday.
Mohammad Jan Rasulyar said unless President Ashraf Ghani took urgent action, the province, a centre of opium production and a Taliban heartland that British and American troops struggled to control for years, would be lost.
"Your Excellency, Helmand is standing on the brink and there is a serious need for you to come," he wrote on Facebook.
The highly unusual public plea from a serving official painted a picture strikingly similar to the situation that led up to the fall of the northern city of Kunduz in late September, when Taliban fighters seized and held on to for several days before government troops regained control.
If Helmand were to fall, it would deliver a blow to government claims that Afghan security forces, fighting largely alone since international troops ended combat operations last year, are controlling the insurgency, in spite of setbacks such as the fall of Kunduz.
Army spokesman Mohammad Rasool Zazai said he had no comment on the post, but said Helmand would never collapse, while police chief Abul Rahman Sarjang said: "We have strong forces in Helmand. In some places, we leave areas for tactical reasons, but all forces are working together well and very soon we will have major achievements to report."
Ghani's government, backed by billions of dollars in international aid and training assistance from thousands of NATO troops still stationed in Afghanistan, is pushing to re-open talks with the Taliban
Over the past six months, Helmand has been the scene of battles between insurgents and security forces that have complained of being abandoned by the U.S.-backed government.
"We don't provide food and ammunition to our forces on time, do not evacuate our wounded and martyred soldiers from the battle field, and foreign forces only watch the situation from their bases and don't provide support," Rasulyar wrote.
After drawing down our forces to less than 10,000, we are now seeing that the president's precipitous withdrawal of combat troops as a critical error. Any thoughts that the Afghanistan security forces were capable of defending the country on their own were seriously mistaken. And any belief that the government was capable of supporting itself and its troops was a mirage.
But Afghanistan is flying under the radar. It's "old news" and besides, there appear to be few people in the administration who care to talk about the subject, much less do anything about it. In fact, the US is urging the Afghan government to make a deal with the Taliban - a deal that will almost certainly lead to an eventual complete takeover by the Taliban.
But Afghanistan probably won't fall until after Obama leaves office. Just one more thing he can blame on his successor despite him being the architect of defeat.