When I visited Afghanistan in 2014, NATO and US troops were scaling down operations while presidential elections, fraught with allegations of fraud, went into round two. Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah both claimed victory but eventually agreed to form a unity government led by Ghani and Abdullah as Chief Executive Officer in October 2014.
For the most part, NATO and the US took their toys and went home resulting in a predictable recipe for political instability including tribalism, power vacuums with a side order of warlords and a not-so-insignificant resurgence of Taliban-controlled regions.
U.S. President Barack Obama, having long stated his determination to end a war that began in 2001, reversed course in October 2015 and said that the American force of 9,800 troops would remain in Afghanistan through most of 2016, before dropping to 5,500.
The latest dispatch by Eric Schmitt and David E. Sanger of the NYT should give pause as to what to expect in 2016 as Al-Qaeda re-emerges throughout the region while the Taliban continues to control or strongly influence approximately half the nation, according to Bill Roggio, editor of The Long War Journal, an online publication that tracks Taliban control.
With the renewed violence against U.S. troops and potential “safe haven” for terrorist activities, I wonder if Afghanistan will return as a hot topic in the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections.