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‘US to keep its troops in Afghanistan only for intelligence purposes’

Published time: February 25, 2014 12:14
AFP Photo / Munir Uz Zaman

Washington’s claims that they keep 3,000 troops in Afghanistan to enhance the country’s military don’t make sense, Mohammad Daud Miraki, an Afghan activist, writer and politician, told RT.

During the years Western forces occupied Afghanistan the US hasn’t invested effectively into the larger agenda of nation-building, it simply maintained existing institutions and trained Afghan military, but did not provide them with anything, Miraki said. “The only thing they have provided to the Afghan military forces is a uniform and a few outdated weapons,” he said.

RT: The US is now considering leaving a reduced contingent in Afghanistan after the 2014 withdrawal, which would mean 3,000 troops instead of 10,000. But will 3,000 troops be much use?

Mohammad Daud Miraki: It all depends what they are leaving them for. If they leave them for training purposes than it should be enough, but if they are leaving [them] for defensive purposes, then it certainly doesn't serve any purpose. In light of the larger force of NATO and the US, they have been quite ineffective, considering the caliber of their capacity.

RT: How much of a Taliban resurgence could we see if troop numbers are cut?

MDM: Well, the Taliban largely dictates when the opposition becomes weak and their adversaries try to make them bolder and enhance their insurgency. And it is likely that the insurgency will be increasing and emboldened and become widespread. But at the same time the Afghan army and those who have been in training might be able to play a role, it depends how effective this role is, which remains to be seen.

RT: Why not pull out of the country completely, considering that the majority of Americans believe the war was not worth fighting anyway? According to Pew Research Center, about half of those polled (52 percent) said the US had mostly failed to achieve its goals in Afghanistan.

AFP Photo / Munir uz Zaman

MDM: If they are concerned about training and enhancing the Afghan military forces, they could have done it in the past 12 years. They haven’t done much and certainly the only thing they have provided to the Afghan military forces is uniform and a few outdated weapons. They have not even maintained the various units with enhanced or advanced weapons, and they are even reluctant to provide them with American weaponry. Instead they buy it from Russia, Ukraine and other places. If they think the presence of 3,000 troops is enough to enhance Afghan forces – that doesn't make sense. It’s very likely that they may have these 3,000 troops only for intelligence purposes, for a larger agenda that they have at hand, maybe [concerning] Russia, China, or some other purpose.

RT: The US spent billions of dollars to build bases it's now destroying and to train Afghan security forces who are struggling to keep things under control. Was this money well spent?

MDM: No, I don’t think so. We have to look at that in this way. Billions of dollars spent in Afghanistan cost them the lives of more than a million Afghans. When I say a million Afghans, [I mean] million Pashtuns. This group is the majority group, constituting 75 percent of the population. They have murdered more than a million Afghans and have littered the country with uranium ammunitions. But even if you do not consider these negative aspects, they [the US] have not invested effectively into the larger agenda of the nation-building which they had. They simply maintained that they have built institutions. Institution-building is good but it cannot be done and cannot continue to maintain itself, and it’s not sustainable. The institution-building is of no use. As to the Afghan military, they have trained them but not provided them with anything. The air force has absolutely nothing, except a few MI-42 helicopters that they have purchased from Russia.

RT: Washington is now in indirect talks with the Taliban to possibly transfer five senior Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay prison in exchange for a captured US soldier. Are we seeing a change in the US attitude to the Taliban, and could we eventually see direct talks?

AFP Photo / David Furst

MDM: The talks between the US and Taliban haven't been effective. In fact, I was present the following day [when] the Taliban office was opened in Qatar, I was invited there to give them a [perspective for] peace as a representative of Afghan academics. And the Taliban was sincere to pursue this negotiation to go beyond the prisoner exchange, but unfortunately, the US have deceived them because there was an objection from the Northern Alliance and they didn't want to alienate Karzai in the Northern Alliance, and therefore whatever agreement they have with Taliban they took a step back and claimed otherwise. There was a good opportunity in 2013 that this issue would be resolved for good, but I’m hopeful that somebody with some sense and vision in the State Department could come up with a reasonable assessment and embark on a negotiation again, because this is absolutely essential for the peace.

RT: Is there a chance that a security deal between the US and the Karzai government could be signed before the April presidential election?

MDM: It’s not very likely, because President Karzai wants to have a different image in the psyche of the Afghan people. The Afghan people have essentially looked [on] him as a traitor, like Babrak Karmal in the Russian period in the past history of Afghanistan. And he always maintained that by the end of his rule he will behave in a certain way to change people’s opinion, so that they would perceive him as patriot rather than a traitor. And it begs the question, if he is a really a patriotic person he should have brought up issues of contention well before the last year of his rule. So it’s not likely that he would sign it, he wants to keep some [positive] legacy or some patriotic notion in the psyche of the people. And it’s likely that [the security pact] would go for the next elected official.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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