NEW YORK, Feb 2 (APP):The recent deadly attacks in Kabul’s heavily protected zones have fueled fresh worries in the ability of Afghan government to provide security and combat the Taliban insurgency, according to American media reports.
“More than 16 years into the American war in Afghanistan, Taliban fighters managed to penetrate one of Kabul’s most tightly guarded landmarks, rampaging through the Inter-Continental Hotel,” The Wall Street Journal correspondent in Kabul said in a dispatch. “Militants stunned the capital twice more in the next 10 days. In all, 141 people were killed, including four Americans,” it said.
“The ferocious attacks” two claimed by the Taliban and one by Islamic State”have cast doubt on optimistic assessments by the U.S. military and Afghan government and raised questions about the pillars of the Trump administration’s strategy: a greater reliance on Afghan security forces, modest increase in the U.S. troops supporting them and stepped-up pressure on Pakistan to cut off support to the insurgents,” WSJ correspondent Craig Nelson wrote.
But the dispatch cited General Joseph Votel, the head of U.S. Central Command, as telling reporters that the increasing violence “does not impact our commitment to Afghanistan” and that victory in the war, America’s longest, was “absolutely” possible.
The administration’s war plan, first announced in August, relies on raising troop levels from about 11,500 then to about 15,000 now, deploying more air power against militants and moving American military advisers back to the front line to train Afghan units and call in air and artillery strikes. Not least, it calls for cutting
But President Donald Trump steered clear of predictions about the war in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, two years after his predecessor, Barack Obama declared in the same forum that the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan was over. “Our military is no longer undermined by artificial timelines,” Mr. Trump said at the Capitol, “and we no longer tell our enemies our plans.”
In Washington, according to the dispatch, US officials expressed alarm at the January attacks but said it would be unfair to blame the surge in violence on the American strategy for Afghanistan.
“You can’t really judge based on what’s happened in the last 10 days,” a National Security Council representative was quoted as saying in the dispatch. “At this point, we haven’t had enough time to really carry out the full strategy. I don’t think anybody would claim it would change within a period of a few months.”
The carnage in Kabul has roiled already fraught relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan, the dispatch said, noting that Afghan officials have accused Islamabad of direct involvement in the latest attacks.
Pakistani officials have denied the allegations. “Why would we poke the bear with relations with the U.S. already strained?” an unnamed official was quoted as saying.
U.S. officials, according to WSJ, said they had seen direct ties between the attacks and the Pakistani government. But it said the Trump administration is using economic pressure in an attempt to force the country’s leaders to roll up the havens militants use to oversee their fighting in Afghanistan.