The US Army’s second Security Force Assistance Brigade is slated to deploy to Afghanistan in an “advise and assist” mission as the fight against the Taliban shows no signs of ending from either side.
“The 2nd SFAB is a conventional unit with a special mission ready to answer the nation’s call,” US Army Brig. Gen. Donn Hill, who commands the unit, said Thursday in a prepared statement. In total, there are about 800 officers and noncommissioned officers in each security force assistance brigade, the Army Times reported last December. The deployment will start next spring, according to the Army.
“Our partnered security forces successes in the future will define our own,” Hill said.
The officers will advise the Afghan National Security Forces, which are supported by the US government in the nearly 17-year fight against the Taliban, which on Thursday carried out a major attack in southern Afghanistan that killed Afghan Gen. Abdul Raziq. US Defense Secretary James Mattis called the general’s death a “tragic loss of a patriot.”
While US and Afghan forces continue to battle Taliban forces across Afghanistan, Washington allies the United Arab Emirates and Qatar reportedly “competed” to host the Taliban’s embassy in their countries, according to the New York Times. The report also exposed the Emiratis’ claim that Qatar had aided the Islamist militants by allowing the Taliban to open its first official overseas office in Doha in 2013.
UAE Ambassador to the US Yousef al-Otaiba was on the wrong end of an “angry phone call” from the Emirati foreign minister, who grumbled that the Taliban office was set up in Qatar instead of the UAE, leaked emails from al-Otaiba’s account showed, per the Times. The National, a pro-UAE website, retorted that while Abu Dhabi was willing to host the Taliban to facilitate peace talks between the US, the current Afghan government and the Taliban, the Emiratis “withdrew the offer when the group refused to denounce al-Qaeda and give up violence.”
Abu Dhabi has sided with Saudi Arabia in the diplomatic rift between the kingdom and Qatar.
On October 13, al-Jazeera reported that a Taliban delegation had met directly with US Envoy to Qatar Zalmay Khalilzad “in the first official confirmation of talks between the two sides.” The meeting was part of a Trump administration push to find a resolution to the 17-year-old Afghan War, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Critics of the US’ sustained military presence in Afghanistan contend that military tactics will not lead to meaningful solutions. Anthony Cordesman of the defense-contractor-funded Center for Strategic and International Studies even wrote in an October 15 blog post “that the US cannot go on… hoping that some limited additional military commitment will somehow sustain a war of attrition that mysteriously has a happy ending.”
“There’s no easy solution,” says Brian Terrell, an anti-war activist who is co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. More US military personnel “will only fuel the conflict; it will only make things worse; it will only put off whatever possible solution there may be,” Terrell told Sputnik News on Friday.
Terrell praised the Afghans working toward peace in their own country at what he called great personal risk, saying, “That’s where the hope is going to come from. It’s not going to be coming out of the Afghan elections or the presidential palace or our diplomats or more soldiers. Sending more soldiers into Afghanistan is not going to stabilize the situation at all.”
But that may not be the US’ intention in the first place. The war, while it may seem extraordinarily costly to most Americans, is a cash cow for weapons manufacturers, Terrell pointed out. “I think this is not intended to be won or resolved — I think for the powers that be, the worst fear is that peace will break out.”