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The War Is Over, But Afghanistan Remains Shackled



“Afghanistan is no closer to controlling its institutions than Washington is to defeating terror. Afghans have inherited a disbanded mercenary army which the state cannot possibly maintain on its own,” a political analyst tells MintPress.

America’s war in Afghanistan is over!

In a statement to the press on Dec. 28, U.S. President Barack Obama confirmed that after 13 years of bloody conflict, “the longest war in American history is coming to a responsible conclusion.”

Though U.S. troops will no longer officially engage in combat missions in Afghanistan, that is not to say that Washington will completely devest its military interests from the region. While Jan. 1 was marked by a much mediatized military handover, wherein Afghanistan assumed control over its security and military apparatus, approximately 12,000-13,500 foreign troops — including 9,800 U.S. soldiers — will still be arrayed throughout the country under the post-2014 NATO-led mission “Operation Resolute Support.”

NATO’s new role and scope of activities in Afghanistan have been defined in the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), a military cooperation treaty signed by newly elected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and NATO’s Senior Civilian Representative to Afghanistan Maurits Jochems on Sept. 30, ahead of any U.S. withdrawal.

Yet as officials gathered in Kabul to celebrate Afghanistan’s military emancipation from NATO on Jan. 1, reports came through that a shootout between armed Afghan troops and Taliban militants led to the deaths of innocent civilians on Dec. 31. A wedding party in Sangin, a city located in Helmand province, south of the capital Kabul, was hit after Afghan soldiers misfired a rocket in response to Taliban attacks, killing an estimated 29 people. The incident served as a reminder of the serious threat that the Taliban continues to pose to the impoverished, war-torn nation.

Thus, although Afghanistan is no longer the ward of the international community, experts warn that its sovereignty and independence constitute little more than a facade.

“For all intents and purposes, Afghanistan remains a country under occupation,” said Aref Abu Hatem, a leading political analyst based in Yemen, to MintPress News.

“Afghanistan is no closer to controlling its institutions than Washington is to defeating terror. Afghans have inherited a disbanded mercenary army which the state cannot possibly maintain on its own. If anything, NATO has locked Kabul into a financial trap to better assert control and defend its interests in the region,” he added.


This notion that Afghanistan has remained but a pawn in The Great Game has been at the center of many debates over the years.

Former President Hamid Karzai, often referred to as Washington’s strategic ally in Central Asia, highlighted such sentiments in his farewell speech in September, when he declared: “The war in Afghanistan is to the benefit of foreigners. But Afghans on both sides are the sacrificial lambs and victims of this war.”

Mohsen Kia, an independent political analyst based in Tehran, explained to MintPress that Karzai’s virulent criticism of the United States reflects Afghans’ strong resentment toward Western powers.

“President Karzai put his finger on an issue which has long troubled Afghanistan. Afghans do not feel in charge of their own fate. Rather they feel trapped by powers greater than their own, which play by rules they can neither comprehend nor oppose,” Kia said.

“Just as Afghans felt trapped and suffocated under British and Russian rule, they have come to understand the United States as yet another imperialistic power. In all fairness Washington has done little to disperse such sentiments,” he said. “Everything the U.S. has done over the past 13 years has been done in the Pentagon’s interests, not the Afghans’ … even though it was sold this way.”

While U.S. officials have dismissed the notion that America has increasingly developed imperialistic traits over the decades, arguing that the U.S. has been a positive influence on the world, many have begged to differ.

On Dec. 28, Obama emphasized America’s positive influence in Afghanistan, stressing:

“Our courageous military and diplomatic personnel in Afghanistan — along with our NATO allies and coalition partners — have helped the Afghan people reclaim their communities, take the lead for their own security, hold historic elections and complete the first democratic transfer of power in their country’s history.”

While U.S. officials justify civilian casualties in targeted attacks as collateral damage in the pursuit of their greater ambitions, others have perceived the footprint of a neo-imperial power that operates unchallenged.

In March 2012, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales was found guilty of killing 16 Afghan civilians in a murderous rampage. Though Bales had clearly operated beyond the scope of his military mandate, the U.S. refused to subject him to Afghan law. British journalist and whistleblower Glenn Greenwald argued that this was classic imperialist behavior.

“One prime prerogative of all empires is that it is subject to no laws or accountability other than its own, even when it comes to crimes committed on other nations’ soil and against its people,” Greenwald wrote.

“What is most revealed by the decision to remove Bales from Afghanistan is the American belief that no other country – including those its invades and occupies – can ever impose accountability on Americans.”

But if Washington has played Big Brother to impoverished Afghanistan, using its superpower status to impose its hegemonic will and maintain Kabul within its political grasp, Afghanistan’s Prince Ali Seraj, the head of the National Coalition for Dialogue With the Tribes of Afghanistan, told MintPress that Afghanistan has played a hand in its own demise by developing feelings of codependency.


Ravaged by decades of war, Afghanistan stands as a nation severely diminished — an empty shell with no real institutional substance and very limited economic resources.

Although home to billions of dollars in untapped natural resources, such as energy and precious minerals, Afghanistan remains trapped in abject poverty, its people plagued by hunger.

In a report for AFP, dated Jan. 2, Guillaume Lavallee quoted Haji Mubin Ahmad, a local Afghan businessman, as saying that his country’s economy continues to rely heavily on foreign aid. “Cutting the aid is like cutting the oxygen — we will die,” Ahmad is quoted as saying.

“Rather than help shore up Afghanistan’s ailing economy, the United States and its allies have instead thrown billions of dollars at the military, prioritizing the development of a mercenary army via private U.S. contractors rather than bank on Afghans to rebuild their state,” Prince Ali Seraj told MintPress.

“Afghanistan has become so dependent on foreign aid that Kabul cannot possibly dream of honoring its troops’ salaries without outside intervention. Kabul does not own its army, foreign powers pay the bills. There lies Afghanistan’s biggest paradox,” he added.

Indeed, while NATO has transferred all military responsibilities to Kabul, Afghanistan remains nevertheless vulnerable to outside control due to financial destitution.

“It is easy to see how foreign powers could use Afghanistan’s financial problems to lean on officials and push for control. Having a mercenary army only opens the door to manipulation,” warned Prince Ali.

But while figures like former President Karzai have been keen to paint the U.S. as the source of all Afghanistan’s troubles, Afghan officials have much to answer to when it comes to manipulating America’s ambitions to their own benefit.

As Afghan political analyst Haroun Mir noted in a December opinion piece for Al-Jazeera, although Kabul does not yet control its finances and essentially relies on foreign aid, it still has the power to rein in corruption, nepotism and political wrangling to solidify its footing and ultimately build itself back up again

“Afghans have been made to believe that all solutions to their problem lie outside their borders, with the international community. This thinking has trapped Afghans into a vicious circle of political dependency. A nation which cannot think for itself or envision itself can never be truly free or sovereign,” stressed Prince Ali.

“Foreign aid, yes! Foreign tutelage, no! It is as perversive as radicalism, since it stands in negation of democratic values. Only Afghans can heal Afghanistan. The real question is: Does the international community truly aspire to empower Afghans?”

Finding a way out

With the Taliban back on the offensive, Afghanistan is in a difficult position, confronted with the realities of a life spent under the Taliban or neo-colonial servitude.

“Why is the U.S. leaving when Afghanistan cannot possibly defend itself? The coffers of the state are empty and since no efforts were spent in rejuvenating Afghanistan’s economy, they will remain empty,” Prince Ali said, noting, “Afghans cannot even feed themselves. … How can they be expected to commit to the upkeep of a mercenary army?”

Iranian expert Kia echoed Prince Ali’s comments, arguing that Afghanistan’s salvation lies in the Afghan people’s ability to revive their national economy and provide the state with a sustainable source of income.

“Afghanistan was once a buoyant commercial and agricultural land. Investments need to flow in this direction. Only then will Afghanistan rise again. Only then will the state be free of foreign diktat,” Kia stressed.

Prince Ali, who worked closely with the Reagan administration in the late 1980s, when Afghanistan was under the thumb of Soviet Russia, believes that his country’s problems stem from Washington’s miscalculations and gross oversight in handling radicalism.

“The solutions are there, yet U.S. officials have refused to break away from their failed strategy, engaging the wrong people and implementing the wrong policies,” he said.

“Thirteen years of failure have reduced Afghanistan to playing the role of the emperor without clothes. Everyone is telling us how successful we have been, how far we’ve come over the decade, and yet hunger is rampant and security has deteriorated further,” he added.

Perhaps all Afghanistan needs now is space to carve out its own path, free of the constraints of its allies.

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Drone Guidelines to Protect Civilians Do Not Apply to Afghanistan: White House Official


New Rolling Stone article provides more evidence that, despite public claims, U.S. war in Afghanistan is nowhere near over

The ISAF color guard marches during the ISAF Joint Command (IJC) and XVIII Airborne Corps colors casing ceremony, Dec 8, 2014 at North Kabul Afghanistan International Airport, Afghanistan. Despite public ceremonies like this one, marking the supposed conclusion of U.S.-led combat, the war continues. (Photo: ISAF/Public Domain)

The ISAF color guard marches during the ISAF Joint Command (IJC) and XVIII Airborne Corps colors casing ceremony, Dec 8, 2014 at North Kabul Afghanistan International Airport, Afghanistan. Despite public ceremonies like this one, marking the supposed conclusion of U.S.-led combat, the war continues. (Photo: ISAF/Public Domain)

Despite the December 28th “official” end of the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, a new Rolling Stone article provides more proof that armed combat is nowhere near over: the Obama administration still considers the country to be an “area of active hostilities” and therefore does not impose more stringent standards aimed at limiting civilian deaths in drone strikes.

At issue are the Presidential Policy Guidelines (pdf), passed in May 2013 in response to widespread concerns about the killing and wounding of non-combatants by U.S. drone strikes. The new guidelines impose the requirement that “before lethal action may be taken,” U.S. forces are required to attain “near certainty that non-combatants will not be injured or killed.” It is impossible to verify the impact of this reform on civilian deaths and injuries, because U.S. drone attacks are shrouded in near total secrecy.

However, an unnamed senior administration official told Rolling Stone journalist John Knefel that the Presidential Policy Guidelines do not apply to Afghanistan. “Afghanistan will continue to be considered an ‘area of active hostilities’ in 2015,” said the official. “The PPG does not apply to areas of active hostilities.”

This is not the first time President Obama has played fast and loose with its own drone war reforms. In October 2014, it was revealed that the Obama administration holds that the reforms also do not apply to the ongoing wars in Iraq and Syria, because they are also deemed to be “areas of active hostilities.”

According to Knefel, “That perplexing distinction – that formal combat operations are over but that the U.S. still remains in an armed conflict – in many ways exemplifies the lasting legacy of Obama’s foreign policy. From Yemen to Pakistan to Iraq and Syria and Afghanistan, the administration has consistently downplayed its actions – some acknowledged and some covert – saying that the wars are (almost) over while retaining virtually all the powers of a country at war.”

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6 Killed in US Drone Strike‌ in Afghanistan, Main Victims‌ Civilians


6 Killed in US Drone Strike‌ in Afghanistan-Main Victims‌ Civilians
Washington carryies out continual drone strikes in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Somalia, killing people. A US-led assassination drone strike has killed at least 6 people in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Nangarhar.

Three other people also sustained injuries in the latest drone attack in the province, Hazrat Hossein Mashraqiwal, the police spokesman for Nangarhar.

The spokesman further said that the drone strike took place in the provincial Lal Pur district on Wednesday.

A similar strike on Wednesday, reportedly killed at least 3 people in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Logar. The US-led terror drones also killed at least seven people in the neighboring province of Khost on Sunday.

The US carries out targeted killings through drone strikes in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Somalia.

Washington claims the targets of the drone attacks are al-Qaeda militants, but local officials and witnesses maintain that civilians have been the main victims of the attacks over the past few years.


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US-Trained Afghan Army Behind Deadly Attack on Wedding Party


New Year’s Eve incident that killed as many as 26 sparks protest, investigation

U.S. military conducting training for Afghan National Army Soldiers in 2010. (Photo: isafmedia/flickr/cc)

The U.S.-trained Afghan army was responsible for a New Year’s Eve attack on a wedding party that killed as many as two dozen people including women and children, local officials have said.

The incident took place in Sagin district in the southern province of Helmand, and was first reported on by the Associated Press.

Witnesses said the house where the wedding was taking place was hit after guests firedcelebratory shots into the air.

The incident sparked hundreds of people to travel from Sagin to the home of the governor in the provincial capital to demand justice, AP reports.

“What we know so far is that our soldiers fired mortar rounds from three outposts but we do not know whether it was intentional,” General Mahmoud, the deputy Commander of the Afghan 215 corps in Helmand province, told Reuters.

“We have launched our investigation and will punish those who did this,” he said.

The exact toll from the attack is still unclear; Agence-France Presse‘s latest reporting indicates that 17 people, all women and children were killed, and that 49 others were wounded in the shelling. Reuters reported Thursday that 26 people were killed and 41 others wounded.

According to reporting by AP on Friday, two soldiers have already been arrested, and eight more are under investigation.  Mahmoud told AP that there was “still a possibility of more arrests.”

In a statement issued Thursday, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack and urged the Afghan government to conduct a full investigation of the incident.

The deadly fire came at the end of what was the deadliest year for Afghan civilians, and just hours before Afghanistan formally took over security operations for the country, even as the U.S. is continuing its military role there for at least another year.

“I want to congratulate my people today that Afghan forces are now able to take full security responsibility in protecting their country’s soil and sovereignty,” Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani said in a speech Thursday marking the transition.

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‘End’ of Afghanistan occupation a lie

‘End’ of Afghanistan occupation a lie

Taking a break from his Christmas vacation in Hawaii, President Obama gave a speech at a Marine base claiming that “Next week, we will be ending our combat mission in Afghanistan.” This is not true. Nominal control over military bases may have been handed over to the Afghan government, but the U.S. government is set to continue its occupation indefinitely with nearly 11,000 troops. They will be joined by thousands of soldiers from other NATO member countries.

The term “combat mission” is used in a highly misleading way by generals and politicians to sell their strategy to a U.S. public that has largely turned against the war. U.S./NATO forces in Afghanistan have been gradually withdrawing from the country, but by the end of 2014 this process will end. It will be immediately followed by a mission with an indefinite mandate that will supposedly focus on training and “advising” the soldiers of the pro-imperialist Afghan government.

Operating under the mandate of a Bilateral Security Agreement signed by the United States and the Afghan government, the stay-behind mission was initially supposed to involve 9,800 troops. However, after intensification in the fighting, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced that an additional 1,000 soldiers would remain deployed, and emphasized the flexibility they will have to engage in combat if their commanders decide it is necessary.

Imperialism fails to stabilize the situation in its favor

On Dec. 28, a ceremony was held to mark the formal end of the occupation. This event, however, was held in secret for fear that it would be attacked. The supposed end of the combat mission in Afghanistan is by no means a clean victory for the coalition of imperialist and imperialist-aligned governments that invaded the country in 2001.

For the first 13 years of the U.S.-led occupation, the leader of the internationally recognized Afghan authorities was Hamid Karzai. Although he was hand-picked by imperialism for the job, towards the end of his presidency Karzai became an increasingly vocal critic of U.S./NATO atrocities committed against Afghan civilians, a sign not of his principled support for independence but the inability of the United States and others to defeat the forces resisting the occupation.

However, presidential elections were held in April and June, ending Karzai’s term. His replacement is U.S.-educated former World Bank official Ashraf Ghani. However, Ghani was only able to take office after a tense standoff over electoral fraud that threatened to turn into a major crisis for the puppet authorities.

After three months of threats and negotiations, which caused the inauguration ceremony for the new president to be delayed for weeks, an agreement was finally reached between Ghani and his opponent Abdullah Abdullah. Abdullah would recognize Ghani’s victory in the election, and in return a new post—called Chief Executive Officer—would be granted to Abdullah. The crisis has been defused, but it remains very much in question whether these two bitter rivals can work together in government. The government still has not named a cabinet despite being in office for three months.

Meanwhile, the people refuse to accept the occupation or the Afghan authorities installed by it. As they take over the bulk of responsibilities in the war, record numbers of Afghan government soldiers are dying as the fighting sharpens—approximately 5,000 were killed this year alone. Over the same period, the United Nations estimates over 3,100 civilians have been killed.

While the resistance forces are composed of many organizations with a range of ideological orientations—not exclusively the Taliban, as media in the United States portray it—there is always an intensification of the conflict in the “summer fighting season.” With a much smaller contingent of foreign troops present, there are concerns that the government will suffer serious defeats next summer.

Regardless of the proclamations made by the managers of this system, the occupation of Afghanistan continues, and so should opposition to this injustice. During the current period of increasing struggle inside the United States, progressive organizations and individuals can show solidarity with our sisters and brothers in Afghanistan and point out that freedom and self-determination need to be respected everywhere.

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Taliban claim Nato ‘defeat’ in 13-year Afghan war

US, Nato ceremonially end Afghan combat mission after 13 years. — AP/File
US, Nato ceremonially end Afghan combat mission after 13 years. — AP/File

KABUL: The Taliban responded scornfully Monday to the formal end of Nato’s war in Afghanistan, describing the US-led mission as a “fire of barbarism and cruelty” that had drowned the country “in a pool of blood”.

The insurgent group issued the statement in English a day after Nato marked the closure of its combat mission with a low-key ceremony in Kabul, arranged in secret due to the threat of Taliban attack.

“We consider this step a clear indication of their defeat and disappointment,” the Taliban said. “America, its invading allies … along with all international arrogant organisations have been handed a clear-cut defeat in this lopsided war.”

The Taliban, who ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, have fought a resilient insurgency against Nato and Afghan forces for 13 years, with violence now at record levels nationwide.

The United Nations said civilian casualties hit a new high this year with about 10,000 non-combatants killed or wounded — 75 per cent of them by the Taliban.

On January 1 Nato’s International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) combat mission will be replaced by a “training and support” mission. About 12,500 Nato troops will stay on in Afghanistan.

The Taliban statement said the group would fight on “for the establishment of a pure Islamic system by expelling the remaining invading forces unconditionally”.

President Ashraf Ghani has said he is open to peace talks, but the Taliban said it would “continue its Jihad and struggle so long as a single foreigner remains in Afghanistan in a military uniform”.

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This story of shortsighted, unintended consequences begins in the 1980s after the former Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.

As part of the U.S. campaign to undermine Soviet control over the country, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) oversaw the creation of school books in local Afghan languages that taught children how to become jihadists. The books, such as The Alphabet for Jihad Literacy, were produced for USAID by the University of Nebraska Omaha (which, years later, was apparently paid $6.5 million for a similar book contract, according to First Lady Laura Bush during her appearance with Afghan leader Hamid Karzai in 2002). The books were reportedly smuggled into Afghanistan with the help of the CIA and the ISI, the Pakistani military intelligence organization.

The Soviet Union pulled out of Afghanistan in 1988.

The USAID textbooks, however, are still being used, only now by the Taliban as it seeks to recruit new warriors to attack, among others, American soldiers stationed in Afghanistan. Duplicated copies of the U.S. textbooks have also surfaced in Pakistan.

The books are “filled with talk of jihad and featured drawings of guns, bullets, soldiers and mines,” according to The Washington Post.One sample entry states that the letter “T” is for “topak” (gun). An example of word usage follows: “My uncle has a gun. He does jihad with the gun.”

The school books “have served since then as the Afghan school system’s core curriculum,” the Post’s Joe Stephens and David B. Ottaway reported back in 2002.

That year, UNICEF managed to destroy at least half a million of the made-in-USA books. However, not only did many of the books survive, but—according to a recent Post article—the Taliban is reprinting the books to continue the unforeseen legacy of American tax dollars going to help those who want to destroy the U.S.

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Afghan Taliban condemn Peshawar school attack

— Reuters/File

KABUL: The Afghan Taliban have condemned a raid on a school in Peshawar that left 141 dead in the country’s bloodiest ever terror attack, saying killing innocent children was against Islam.

Survivors said militants gunned down children as young as 12 during the eight-hour onslaught in Peshawar, which the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) said was revenge for the ongoing North Waziristan operation.

“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has always condemned the killing of children and innocent people at every juncture,” the Afghan Taliban, which often target civilians, said in a statement released late Tuesday.

“The intentional killing of innocent people, women and children goes against the principles of Islam and every Islamic government and movement must adhere to this fundamental essence.”

“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the official name of the Taliban) expresses its condolences over the incident and mourns with the families of killed children.”

The Afghan Taliban are a jihadist group loosely affiliated to the Pakistan Taliban, with both pledging allegiance to Mullah Omar.

The Afghan Taliban often distance themselves from attacks that kill many civilians, but they also deliberately target non-combatants.

Last week they claimed responsibility for a suicide attack at a theatre show in the French cultural centre in Kabul that killed one person and injured 15.

The United Nations says the majority of civilian casualties in Afghanistan are caused by the Taliban and other armed groups.

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Drone strike in Afghanistan kills 4 Pakistani Taliban, 7 others

A drone can be seen firing a missile in this photo. — AFP/File
A drone can be seen firing a missile in this photo. — AFP/File

KABUL: A US drone strike in eastern Afghanistan killed four Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants and seven other insurgents, a district official said Wednesday.

The drone’s missiles killed the militants on Tuesday afternoon as members of the TTP were attacking a school in the city of Peshawar, near the Afghan border, said Mahlem Mashuq, the governor of Sherzad district in Nangarhar province.

“Based on our findings, 11 insurgents, four of them Pakistani Taliban, were travelling in a pickup truck that was hit by a drone strike, killing all of them,” Mashuq said.

The Pakistani and Afghan branches of the hard-line Islamist Taliban are loosely allied and operate across the porous border between the countries.

Both are dedicated to overthrowing their countries’ governments and establishing rule by their strict interpretation of Islamic law.

The Afghan Taliban, however, issued a statement condemning Tuesday’s Pakistani Taliban attack on the school in Peshawar that killed 141 people.

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NATO Symbolically Lowers Flag in Afghanistan, But US War To March On


Public declaration that combat is ending belies Obama administration’s quiet expansion of war

The ISAF color guard marches during the ISAF Joint Command (IJC) and XVIII Airborne Corps colors casing ceremony, Dec 8, 2014 at North Kabul Afghanistan International Airport, Afghanistan. (Photo: ISAF/Public Domain)

At a flag-lowering ceremony in Kabul on Monday, U.S. and NATO military commanders publicly declared that combat operations in Afghanistan are coming to a close.

While major media outlets quickly picked up and parroted this message, one problem remains: the U.S.-led war is not, in fact, ending.

Announcing the formal closure of joint U.S. and NATO headquarters for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), General John Campbell, U.S. Army General and commander of ISAF, claimed on Monday that the joint command “will be subsumed into a coalition that is soon downsizing to about 3,000 personnel.” Campbell added, “You’ve done your job well so well that you’ve worked yourself out of a job.”

“ISAF is transitioning to the NATO-led Resolute Support (RS) mission which will focus on training, advising and assisting Afghan Security Institutions and ANSF at the ministerial, institutional, and operational levels,” reads a statement from ISAF about Monday’s ceremony. “The RS mission begins January 1st, 2015.”

The public display, however, comes as the Obama administration quietly moves to continue, and in some aspects expand, the war.

In November, President Obama signed a secret order authorizing a more expansive military mission in Afghanistan through 2015, the New York Times revealed late last month. The measure green-lights U.S. deployment of ground troops for military operations targeting the Taliban and other armed groups, as well as use of jets, bombers, and drones.

Furthermore, outgoing U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Saturday that, into 2015, the United States will keep up to 1,000 more U.S. soldiers than the numbers previously outline in Obama’s May pledge to cut troop levels. This would bring the total number of U.S. troops to as many as 10,800 into next year, and the total number of foreign troops to 13,000, when the thousands of remaining NATO soldiers are taken into account. Troops that remain will engage in “combat enabler” roles, Hagel stated.

And then there is the Bilateral Security Agreement between the U.S. and Afghan governments, which was signed in September and locks in at least another decade of U.S. troops in the country, as well as training, funding, and arming of the Afghan military. The agreement also secures immunity for U.S. service members under Afghan law—a measure that is highly controversial in a country that has suffered massacres of civilians.

Furthermore, in late November, U.S.-backed Afghan president Ashraf Ghani removed the ban on unpopular night raids by special forces. Special Forces units from the Afghan Army are already preparing to resume the raids, in some cases with the participation of U.S. Special Operations.

People in Afghanistan, who live with the impacts of these policies, may shudder at the claim that ISAF “did its job well.”

report released in July by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan notes that Afghan civilian deaths and wounds as a result of the fighting have steadily risen since 2012 and are overall higher than they were in 2009. Furthermore, a report released in November by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs finds that 7,965 civilians were killed and wounded by conflict between January and September 2014—22 percent of them children. During this time period, approximately 105,800 people were forced to flee their homes.

As recently as Saturday, ISAF troops killed two civilians in Southern Kandahar when they opened fire into their car, according to journalist Bashir Ahmad Naadem.

Critics charge that the real outcome of the U.S.-led war is death, social destabilization, poverty, and political dependency and corruption.

“In the past thirteen years, the U.S. and its allies have wasted tens of billions of dollars and turned this country into the center of global surveillance and mafia gangs and left it poor, corrupt, insecure, hungry, and crippled with tribal, linguistic, and sectarian divisions,” declared the Revolutionary Association of Women in Afghanistan in a statement released on the 13th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion.

“Our people, tired of war, have been burning in the fire of oppression and plunder set by the occupiers and their stooges.”

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