Afghan Govt. Faces “Existential Crisis”: Watchdog

Taliban in AfghanistanFILE PHOTO: Armed men who are against Taliban uprising stand at their check post, at the Ghorband District, Parwan Province, Afghanistan June 29, 2021. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani/File Photo

The Afghan government faces an “existential crisis” after the Taliban doubled its attacks following the February 2020 deal with the United States, a watchdog report says.

The report (PDF), published on Thursday, said Taliban attacks on Afghan targets surged from 6,700 in the three months up to the Doha agreement to 13,242 in the September-November 2020 period.

The Afghan air force, considered to be one of the few remaining advantages the government in Kabul has in the fight against the Taliban, is increasingly overstretched, said the watchdog.

Attacks have stayed above 10,000 in each subsequent three-month period, according to the report by the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).

He said the report offered a sobering picture that contrasted with “the pervasiveness of overoptimism” that characterised US-led efforts to rebuild and strengthen Afghanistan and the cost of hundreds of billions of dollars to the US government.

“The news coming out of Afghanistan this quarter has been bleak,” the report said.

Afghan air force overstretched

Faced by a new Taliban offensive, the report said, the Afghan government security force “appeared surprised and unready, and is now on its backfoot”.

The Afghan government faces an “existential crisis” after the Taliban doubled its attacks following the February 2020 deal with the United States, a watchdog report says.

The report (PDF), published on Thursday, said Taliban attacks on Afghan targets surged from 6,700 in the three months up to the Doha agreement to 13,242 in the September-November 2020 period.

The Afghan air force, considered to be one of the few remaining advantages the government in Kabul has in the fight against the Taliban, is increasingly overstretched, said the watchdog.

Attacks have stayed above 10,000 in each subsequent three-month period, according to the report by the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).

The latest data, for April and May this year, showed 705 civilian deaths and 1,330 casualties, the SIGAR report said. “The overall trend is clearly unfavourable to the Afghan government, which could face an existential crisis if it isn’t addressed and reversed,” said the inspector general, John Sopko.

He said the report offered a sobering picture that contrasted with “the pervasiveness of overoptimism” that characterised US-led efforts to rebuild and strengthen Afghanistan and the cost of hundreds of billions of dollars to the US government.

“The news coming out of Afghanistan this quarter has been bleak,” the report said.

Afghan air force overstretched

Faced by a new Taliban offensive, the report said, the Afghan government security force “appeared surprised and unready, and is now on its backfoot”.

Courtesy: Afghanistan Analysts Network

All Afghan aircraft were operating at 25 percent over their recommended scheduled maintenance intervals, with five out of seven aircraft experiencing decreases in readiness in June alone, says the SIGAR report.

SIGAR added that all Afghan aircraft and crew were “overtasked” due to increased requests for air support, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and resupply missions.

The decrease in readiness coincides with an increase in offensives by the Taliban and a near-complete US exit from the war-torn country.