Peace Prospects in Afghanistan
It has been more than a decade and a half since the United States of America invaded Afghanistan by launching operation ‘Enduring Freedom,’ but peace still continues to elude Afghanistan. Ever since the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) officially ended its combat mission on December 28, 2014, leaving behind a residual of US and International forces under the auspices of new NATOled advisory mission ‘Operation Resolute Force,’ the security situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated. 2015 was the worst year of violence since 2009 in which 3,545 Afghan civilians were killed, and another 7,457 wounded. Due to exacerbating violence, nearly 200,000 Afghans sought asylum in EU states in 2015, four times higher than the preceding year. General W. Nicholson, commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, acknowledging the precarious security situation in Afghanistan in a Senate Armed Services Committee said that security in Afghanistan has been deteriorating rather than improving.
Meanwhile, Taliban expanded their influence beyond their traditional strongholds by defeating Afghan government and taking control of northren city of Kunduz. Taliban also continued to ‘score tactical and strategic victories’ in southern Afghanistan, the focus of 2009-11 US surge. Contrary to expectations generated by the revelation of Mullah Umer’s death, that it would lead to internecine war and infighting within Taliban, the latter has emerged as a stronger force that ran the insurgency much longer into the winter. Driven by its strategy to weaken Afghan security forces and undermine government institutions, Taliban under Mullah Akhtar Mansour, who had replaced Mullah Umer, launched Operation Omeri, conducting some spectacular attacks in Kabul.