We woke up today to the gruesome news of the massacre of over 140 Afghan soldiers in an attack by the Taleban in Afghanistan. This was an attack on an Afghan army base in the famous town of Mazar-i-Sharif in Afghanistan’s most secure northern province named Balkh. The daring & the scale of this attack is stunning and so is the sheer incompetence of the US-trained Afghan Army. How else can any one describe 10 attackers penetrating a “secure” army base and killing over 140 trained Afghan soldiers during Friday’s prayers?
This attack was worse than the previous largest massacre of Afghan forces by the Taleban in October 2016 when over 100 Afghan army soldiers were killed by the Taleban near the southern town of Lakshar Gah in Helmand province that borders NaPakistan.
Unlike that attack in October 2016, yesterday’s attack was in the northwestern town of Mazar-i-Sharif close to the border with Uzbekistan. What better demonstration could the Taleban provide of their reach all across Afghanistan?
(courtesy of Stratfor)
This morning’s attack confirms our fears about the abyss that faces the Afghan government and the Trump Administration. It seems they can do nothing in Afghanistan except protect the capital of Kabul & the so-called Afghan government that hides there.
This should remind everyone of the situation of Russian forces in Afghanistan in late 1980s when they & their Afghan government hid in Kabul while ceding much of the countryside to the Afghan Mujahadeen insurgency. That Afghan insurgency was supported & weaponized by NaPakistan & America while that Afghan government was supported & protected by the Soviet Union. That Afghan insurgency won, the Afghan government fell and the Soviet Union withdrew in an ignominious defeat in 1989 after 10 years of useless & unsuccessful fighting.
Today’s Afghan government is supported & backed by America and today’s Afghan insurgency is supported & backed by NaPakistan & guess who. Russia of course. In a stunning reversal of history, Russia is now supporting the Afghan Taleban insurgency against the US-protected Afghan government in Kabul. And they are now building diplomatic bridges with NaPakistan to help them with the Taleban.
Of course, this has been going on for some time but it appears to have reached a serious level recently. Just yesterday, a day before today’s horrific attack by the Taleban in Mazar-i-Sharif, Strafor published an article titled Afghanistan: The Next Big U.S.-Russia Proxy Battle.
- “Afghanistan is growing in importance to Moscow at both the tactical and strategic levels. And as it does, it is becoming an increasingly important theater for the U.S.-Russia competition.
- “Russia has also been augmenting its involvement in Afghan politics. On April 14, Moscow hosted an Afghanistan peace conference, which was attended by officials from China, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. It was the third such conference hosted by Russia since December. Though Russia invited the United States to the conference, Washington chose not to attend.”
- “There are reports and rumors suggesting that Russia is increasing its financial and logistical support for the Taliban to gain leverage over the United States. An Afghan intelligence official said Russian agents were providing the Taliban with strategic advice, money and arms, including old anti-aircraft rockets. The Afghan official also said that Russian intelligence agents have held meetings with Taliban representatives in Tajikistan and in Moscow and that they occasionally enter Afghan territory in border provinces, including Kunduz. He added that Russians were serving as “creative minds and strategists for the Taliban” at a “kind of academy” in Iran. On April 17, the governor of Afghanistan’s northern Kunduz province said Afghan forces had been deployed to the Afghanistan-Tajikistan border to block Russia’s support for the Taliban in northern Afghanistan.”
This is not just Russia creating a nuisance for America in Afghanistan. The Balkh province on the top left above borders Uzbekistan & the Kunduz province on the top right above borders Tajikistan, two Central Asian countries that were a part of the Soviet Union and that remain of strategic importance to Russia. Afghanistan is a trafficking source of both narcotics & Islamic terrorism into Tajikistan & Uzbekistan. As Stratfor reports, “there are hundreds — possibly thousands — of Islamic State fighters in northern Afghanistan, near its border with other Central Asian states.”
- “To this end, Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to Tajikistan and met with Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon at the end of February. After the meeting, Putin said the two leaders agreed to “step up joint efforts to defend the Tajik-Afghan border, using capacities of the Russian military base located in Tajikistan,” referring to the 201st military base in the country. Just before that visit, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin said that plans for setting up new Russian military bases in Tajikistan were not under consideration but added that they could be if the need arose. Fomin also did not rule out the use of the Russian military base in Tajikistan by other members of the Russia-led CSTO. That this wasn’t ruled out is interesting in light of unconfirmed reports that the CSTO [Collective Security Treaty Organization] is considering deploying a rapid response force to the Central Asian countries bordering Afghanistan.”
This is probably the clearest & most negative signal Russia could send about the viability of the current US-protected Afghan Government.
We have maintained for the last couple of years that the entire zone from Syria to Afghanistan is one linked & continuous theater of conflict. Look what has happened in just 100 days of the Trump administration which came to power with thoughts of working with Russia to fight Islamic terror. Already at both ends of the Syria-Afghanistan continuum, we have a new strategic & tactical competition between America & Russia.
In Syria, America is now speaking about getting rid of the Assad regime that has been & remains the only force against Sunni Islamic terrorism and Russia is trying very hard to keep the Assad regime in place. While now in Afghanistan, Russia is acting against the Afghan regime that has been & remains the only force against the Sunni Islamic terrorism of Taleban & ISIS and America is trying very hard to keep the Afghan regime in place. So in Syria, Russia is against Sunni Islamic fighters & America is for them while in Afghanistan, America is against Sunni Islamic fighters & Russia is for them.
Russia cannot afford to get out of Syria because it would be a huge defeat for them and because it would pave the way for a Sunni Islamic terror supporting regime in Damascus. On the other hand, America cannot afford to get out of Afghanistan because,
- it would expose President Trump to the same debilitating criticism he levied against President Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq,
- it would a huge defeat for America after 16 years of war,
- and it would pave the way for a Sunni Islamic Talebani regime in Kabul, the same type of regime America went in 2001 to remove.
Isn’t there a proverb about those who forget history are doomed to repeat it or something? Frankly, how hard would History be laughing if it were a person? Perhaps something like this?
Sorry Jeff, we couldn’t resist it! We needed something to lessen our depression about Afghanistan.
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