The latest headlines from Afghanistan are much like the old headlines from Afghanistan. This week, U.S.-backed Afghan troops forced the Taliban out of Ghazni city, only after dozens of people had already been killed by the militant group. Afghan forces could do little as Taliban fighters seized Camp Chinaya, a military outpost in the north, killing 17 soldiers. And on Wednesday, the militants killed more than 40 troops and policemen in Baghlan province, also in the north.
Taken individually, each development is an embarrassing defeat for the Afghan government and its Western supporters; taken together, the setbacks, especially the events in Ghazni, challenge the U.S. and Afghan government’s narrative of progress in the conflict. “The
After five days of fighting, Afghan forces, with U.S. support, eventually pushed the Taliban out of Ghazni on Tuesday. But the group’s performance on the battlefield, where it also seized control of several districts in Ghazni province, was, Roggio said, reminiscent of 2015, when its fighters seized the northern city of Kunduz. Although the Taliban controls large parts of rural Afghanistan, Kunduz was the first time the militants had captured a major Afghan city since they were driven from power by the U.S.-led invasion in 2001. Victories have been all too common since 2015 for the militants, who have shown an uncanny ability to strike almost at will across Afghanistan.