Deadly peace process

News in Brief

The US military, Afghan government forces and the Taliban have all escalated their deadly attacks during peace negotiations.

In early September, the Taliban insurgency and the US government reached an agreement in principle on the staged withdrawal of 14,000 US troops from Afghanistan by the end of November 2020.

The next US presidential elections are on 3 November 2020.

Borhan Osman, an analyst with the International Crisis Group, reported from Taliban strongholds in June: ‘Nobody seemed to care about the peace talks that have occurred between the Taliban and the U.S. over the last year. Their more immediate concern was the dramatic worsening of violence, and their personal stories of trauma caused by a stepped-up campaign of airstrikes and night raids by U.S. and Afghan government forces.’

The number of civilians injured or killed in US air strikes almost tripled in the first six months of this year compared to the same period last year, according to UN figures. In January–June 2019, 430 civilians were recorded as being injured or killed.

Osman notes: ‘The rain of bombs shattered the relative peace that had existed for years in some Taliban-held territories. The insurgents have ruled parts of the countryside as their exclusive fiefdom, creating a sense of security and stability for the local populations. This year, government forces are chasing Taliban fighters deep into these villages in hunting operations often supported by U.S. aircraft.’

US military officials told Osman the increased attacks were designed to pressure the Taliban in the peace talks.

As for the Afghan government, there has been a growing scandal at the civilian death toll in night raids carried out by the national directorate of security (NDS), the Afghan spy agency.

On 5 September, the head of the NDS was forced to resign after four brothers were killed in an NDS raid in Jalalabad. Local officials and residents rejected claims that the brothers were ‘facilitators’ for Islamic State militants.

Topics: Afghanistan