11 Jul 2014

In Afghanistan, the insurgents are resurgent

So the same old thing happens to me this morning.

I tweet that a report shows a spike in casualties in Afghanistan and make the rather obvious point that the Afghan security forces do not seem to be coping so well, despite the years of spin from our generals and politicians that things were going well, as we retreat.

Then begins the incoming from ordinary soldiers who say it is no surprise, as we told you so and we always knew they couldn’t cope. And on and it goes.

So someone was lying. It is not credible that the ordinary British soldier knew things were not going well, yet the brass did not.

It is hard to escape the sense that British army chiefs simply did their politician bosses’ bidding here, shut up, got on with it and got out of a lost war as fast as they could.

Proof? Evidence?

Simply take the latest report from the UN showing a record number of civilian casualties in the first half of this year. It is up 24 per cent. Almost a quarter.

Nato troops and Afghan security forces arrive at the site of burning NATO supply trucks after an attack by militants in the Torkham area near the Pakistani-Afghan in Nangarhar Province

The report blames most of the 24 per cent increase on ground fighting, and this is highly significant. The UN says it is bullets and RPGs injuring and killing Afghans, and that is because more insurgents are coming out on the ground to take the war to the Afghan army and police.

Why would they do this? Because they can. Because they have personnel, weapons, training, desire and confidence as they gain ground.

Just this week insurgents took significant territory in the north west of the country – hardly the traditional heartlands of the east and south.

Helmand – from where British and Americans retreated – has seen ground assaults involving hundreds of fighters in a way we have not seen since such numbers were massed against Canadian forces around Kandahar in the early days of the war.

“During the first half of 2014, over 1,000 kids were either injured or killed in Afghanistan, which is a 30 per cent increase compared to last year,” said Cecile Pouilly, spokeswoman for the UN human rights office.

“And similarly, you have many more women being injured. Sixty-four of them were injured during the first six months of 2014 because this ground engagement is really taking place in public places, sometimes at the very home of ordinary people.”

The UN assistance mission in Afghanistan documents 4,853 civilian casualties, including 1,564 civilian deaths.

So all this points strong to two narratives, both disturbing to the west desperate to get out of Afghanistan with the minimum of debate, let alone real accountability for their disastrous war.

Namely these: far from repulsed, the Taliban and other groups are on the march – and on the ground in ways not seen for some years.

The Afghan insurgents are resurgent.

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