Kabul: As the United States ends its so-called “eternal war,” the top US general in Afghanistan conducted a thought-provoking assessment of the country’s deteriorating security situation on Tuesday.
General Austin S. Miller said that the Taliban’s rapid deprivation of regions across the country (some of which are of great strategic value) is worrying. He also warned that militias deployed to help troubled national security forces could lead the country into a civil war.
Miller told a small group of reporters in the Afghan capital that for now he has the weapons and the capability to aid Afghanistan’s National Defense and Security Forces.
But he said only a political solution will bring peace to the war-tortured nation. “It is a political settlement that brings peace to Afghanistan. And it’s not just the last 20 years. It’s really the last 42 years,” he said.
Miller was referring to not only the U.S. war but that of Russia’s 10-year occupation that ended in 1989. That conflict was followed by a brutal civil war fought by some of the same Afghan leaders deploying militias against the Taliban. The civil war gave rise to the Taliban who took power in 1996.
U.S. officials have stated that the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops is likely to be completed before July 4. But Miller refused to give any date or time frame, and only mentioned the September 11 timetable given by President Joe Biden when he announced the withdrawal in April. Finally, the remaining 2,500-3,500 U.S. troops were withdrawn.
At the same time, the Taliban quickly occupied a number of areas, many of which are located in the northern part of the country, which is dominated by Afghan minorities. The north is also a traditional stronghold for many former jihadist leaders, who have been the dominant force in Afghanistan since 2001 when they ousted the Taliban from power with the US-led coalition.
Several areas are already on the main road, and one is on the northern border with Tajikistan. The Taliban issued a statement saying that hundreds of Afghan security forces had surrendered, and most of them went home after being photographed receiving transportation expenses from the Taliban.
Miller said that there are many reasons for the collapse of the region, some are the fatigue of the troops and their surrender, and some are psychological failure and military losses. But he said the escalating violence could plunge the country into a deadly civil war.
“As we start talking about how does this all end? The way it must end for the Afghan people is something that revolves around a political solution,” said Miller. “I’ve also said that if you don’t reduce the violence, that political solution becomes more and more difficult.”
He refused to say where the U.S. and its NATO allies were in the withdrawal process.
Miller said his time as the head of the U.S.’s military mission in Afghanistan was coming to an end, without giving a date. He wouldn’t speculate on the legacy of America’s longest war, saying it will be for history to decide.