| Haleem |
KABUL (Xinhua) – Starting Jan 1, 2015, the Afghan security forces assumed full responsibility for maintaining peace and order in the country amidst the continuing threat posed by the Taleban and other armed insurgents groups.
By year end, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) formally ended its mission in Afghanistan as it handed over all security operations to the new unity government in Kabul.
Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, who assumed power just a few months ago, welcomed the transition of responsibility to his new unity government. “It is a blessing and I congratulate all Afghans for this historic day,” Ghani said during the formal handover of the security apparatus on Thursday.
The transition of security responsibilities from NATO forces to the Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) actually started in July 2011 and lasted up to the end of 2014 or a period of three and a half years. Analysts here said that 2015 would a challenging year for the ANSF because this is the time to test its capability to ensure security and defend the country from the Taleban insurgents. “Taking security responsibility and defending the country would be a major challenge to the country’s security forces. They have to gain the trust not only of Afghans but also of the international community as well,” political analyst Mohammad Reza Hweda told Xinhua in a recent interview.
Hweda, editor in chief of Daily Afghanistan, a local paper, said that with the absence of the foreign forces and because of the lack of the needed military equipment such as aircraft and modern weapons, it would be difficult for the national security forces to perform its task and win the war on terror. “No doubt, heavy artillery and modern air force are essential in today’s war, but unfortunately, the Afghan national security forces don’t have jet fighters and helicopter gunships to use in the war against the insurgents,” Hweda said.
A security and defense pact between Afghanistan and the United States, known as the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), and a status of forces agreement (SOFA) with NATO, both signed in late September, also entered into force on Jan 1. The BSA and SOFA would enable the United States and NATO to keep around 13,000 troops, 10,800 of them Americans, in Afghanistan.
Hweda said that these security pacts could be of great help to the Afghan security forces in the fight against terrorism and violence.
But he added that the agreements do not specify what kind of war materiel would be provided to the Afghan security forces by the United States and NATO for them to defeat the Taleban. “Having security agreements with the United States and NATO is a strong support to Afghan security forces,” the analyst said, noting that the international community also assured its long-term support to Afghanistan at the London Conference early in December.
The Taleban militants welcomed the end of combat mission of the NATO-assembled ISAF but described it as “defeat of US and allied nations.” They vowed to continue its jihad or holy war until all foreign forces would be evicted from Afghanistan.
However, John F Campbell, a US Army General who is the current commander of the ISAF and the United States forces- Afghanistan, in his speech on Dec 28 after announcing the end of the alliance combat mission in Afghanistan, ruled out the possible return of Taleban to power in Afghanistan. “There is no turning back to the dark days of the past. We are not walking away. It’s time for the enemy to heed President Ghani’ s call, lay down their arms, embrace peace and help rebuild the Afghan nation,” Campbell stressed.
In its new mission that began Jan 1, the United States and NATO would train, advise and help Afghan forces in fighting the Taleban and other forms of terrorism. “Since the war in Afghanistan is a complicated proxy war, there is a need for the intelligence agencies of the countries involved to coordinate. To overcome the war, we have to bolster our intelligence capability with the support of our allies,” former lawmaker and political analyst Mohammad Asim told the local media on Thursday. The armed insurgents, he said, instead of engaging the government in a frontal war, have launched suicide attacks and roadside bombings not just against military facilities but also against civilian targets such as schools, hotels and diplomatic compounds.
Asim said that there is need for improved cooperation among the intelligence agencies of Afghanistan and its foreign supporters. “The Afghan government should seek the help of the United States and NATO to fully equip its armed forces, particularity its air force if it hopes to finally wipe out the Taleban,” another political watcher Jawed Kohistani said in talks with local media recently.