Afghan President at U.N.: Trump Strategy Conveys ‘Message the Taliban and Their Backers Cannot Win’

Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai addresses the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, at the United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly, praised U.S. President Donald Trump’s strategy to end the 16-year-old war in his country, saying it conveys a message to the Taliban terrorists that they will lose militarily.

“The strategy consolidates all instruments of American power, conveying a message that the Taliban and their backers cannot win militarily,” declared the Afghan leader, according to his prepared remarks. “Only through political settlement can we achieve enduring peace and I call upon all ranks of Taliban to engage in intra-Afghan dialogue.”

American Gen. John Nicholson, the top commander of American and NATO troops in Afghanistan, has said that Trump’s Afghan war strategy is “determined” to pressure the Taliban and their allies into a political settlement with Kabul by making the jihadists realize that a military victory is out of their reach.

Gen. Nicholson urged the Taliban to “stop fighting against your countrymen. Stop killing innocent civilians. Stop bringing hardship and misery to the Afghan people. Lay down your arms and join Afghan society. Help build a better future for this country and your own children.”

The Taliban has long refused to participate in peace negotiations, arguing that it is winning the war.

Various assessments, including one conducted by the U.N., have shown that the Taliban is stronger now than during any other time since the U.S. military removed it from power in late 2001.

The terrorist group controls or contests about 40 percent of Afghanistan, according to the most recent quarterly report to American lawmakers by the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), a watchdog agency.

President Trump inherited deteriorating security conditions from his predecessor.

Ghani noted that conditions on the ground, not arbitrary timelines like the ones imposed by the previous U.S. administration, would drive the American military effort in Afghanistan under the Trump presidency, providing the certainty of United States support for Afghanistan that the people of his country had been seeking for “years.”

President Ghani said:

With President Trump’s recent announcement of his strategy to counter terror and stabilize South Asia, Afghanistan’s enduring partnership with the United States and the international community has been renewed and redirected.

We welcome this strategy, which has now set us on a pathway to certainty. The Afghan people have looked to the United States for this type of resolve for years. We pay tribute to all the men and women of allied nations who have served with us, particularly those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

The United States has made a significant commitment of blood and treasure to the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan since it began in October 2001.

Specifically, the U.S. has spent $714 billion on the war, including an estimated $120 billion on reconstruction efforts alone, SIGAR has reported.

The U.S. military has also suffered a significant number of casualties, primarily at the hands of the Taliban.

So far, terrorists in Afghanistan have killed at least 2,258 American service members and injured another 20,276, reports the Pentagon.

“A strong and enduring commitment from our international partners alone will not ensure our collective success in Afghanistan­ the roots of success are indeed within us, as Afghans,” conceded Ghani.

Despite the American investments since October 2001, the Afghanistan region is home to “over 20 international terrorist organizations,” a number that the U.S. military has described as the “highest concentration” of jihadist groups in the world

“The future of Afghanistan matters because we are on the frontlines of the global effort to eradicate the threat of terrorism,” Ghani told world leaders. “Our brave soldiers are fighting and dying for this cause, and the sovereignty of the Afghan nation, every day.”

“Though we may be on the frontlines, the threat knows no boundaries,” he also said, later adding, “President Trumps’ new strategy includes the disruption and denial of sanctuary to terrorists whose motives know no boundaries.”

Afghan civilians and security forces bore the brunt of the terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, suffering a historic number of casualties.

While the Taliban is the most prominent jihadist group in Afghanistan, its allies al-Qaeda and the Haqqani Network, as well as their alleged rival the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), also operate in the war-ravaged nation.

Echoing Afghan officials, the Pentagon has long reported that neighboring Pakistan provides sanctuary to those groups.

“I call upon Pakistan to engage with us on a comprehensive state-to-state dialogue on peace, security and regional cooperation leading to prosperity,” proclaimed Ghani.


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