Is Improvement at Sight in Afghanistan?

By Scott Morgan

After 16 years of war what is the status of the conflict in Afghanistan? This is a fair question with an answer that may provide contradictory evidence from what is presented in the evening newscasts and special reports.

It is always easier to gauge victory by determining the amount of territory one party in the conflict has control of. This metric is currently being utilized by the naysayers who think that conflict is lost. The fluctuation in the control of territory by both the Afghan Government and the Taliban is not easy to document at this time. So, anytime that the Taliban is able to capture territory in a new province, the narrative of the Government being on the run is an easy crutch to use.

Another tract that people in the United States are looking for is the overpowering of the Enemy. After the virtual destruction of Japan in 1945, by the United States, this seems to be the goal of the American Electorate. In simple terms, the people want to see a surrender on the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. The optics are excellent but this by far is the most difficult outcome to achieve in any conflict zone.

Human Development on the Rise

There are some factors that are not easily seen in Afghanistan that show how the situation in the country is faring. What movement if any are they showing? Well, to the surprise of many the numbers are showing improvement in the Country since the invasion by the United States back in 2001: there is an improvement in both Infant Mortality and in Education. The population has access to both more media outlets and cell phones. There has even been improvement in the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in the country too. Therefore, on an individual basis there has been substantial improvement in the quality of life in the country.

So why the dichotomy? There is only one answer to this question: corruption. Whether it’s a shakedown or abuse by the Police Force on a local level (shaking down businessmen that are not cronies of a Warlord or a Tribal Elder) or even a Government Minister on the take, this image does not bode well for Kabul - which makes it easier for the Taliban and the Haqqani Network to recruit fighters. Not because of Religion but because the young men are taking it upon themselves to defend their homes and any threats that are seen.

Taliban on the Move

In recent weeks, there have been two distinct moves made by the Taliban. First of all, there was a brief spike in Suicide Attacks in Kabul. It is suspected that there may have been an ulterior motive in these incidents. Coming shortly after the Trump Administration decided to freeze Security Aid to Pakistan it is possible that these attacks were initiated by the ISI (Inter Service Intelligence) which is the Pakistani link to the Taliban to show its displeasure with this move by Washington. This action will be seen by some as evidence of collusion between the Taliban and the Pakistanis.

Secondly, is a willingness by the Taliban to hold talks with the Americans. It should be noted that the Taliban wish to return to power and restore what was known as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. This was how the country was referred to after the Civil War of the 1990s (ending with the victory of the Taliban) and the events of 2001 (culminating with the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the subsequent invasion of the United States).

One thing is for certain: when it comes to negotiations the Taliban and the United States have had a less than stellar result. One of the factors for this is that even though Bin Laden is no longer on the scene, links between the Taliban and Al Qaeda have not been formally broken yet. That being said, the social improvements within the Country, including the improved infrastructure, has led to some in the Taliban to seek improved ties with Washington.

We have heard that time is an ally of the Taliban. However, the elections scheduled in 2019 provide a challenge to the Taliban to defeat the current regime. The Government has an interesting challenge as well. Most Election Observers are keen on observing the first peaceful change of power in a conflict zone; however, their presence ebbs when there is a potential second change in power. Since there are fewer eyeballs observing there is a greater chance for malfeasance.

Things are improving but will certainly be interesting over the next year in Afghanistan.

(Image: Afghanistan Map - Britannica via Google Images)

[The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dissecting Society. © 2007-2018 Author(s) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED]


  1. Hi Morgan,

    But is the Taliban the best for Afghanistan? That is the question.


  2. Afghanistan will be another failed state if the Taliban take over again. Or perhaps that is the plan so Pakistan can annex it?


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