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    Civilian Deaths At the Hands of Forces in Afghanistan 'Not Surprising' - Expert

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    On 24 April the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan's (UNAMA) report revealed that more Afghan civilians are now killed by US and pro-government forces in the country than by the Taliban and other rebel groups. The report comes as Washington has reportedly been considering withdrawing as many as half of its 14,000 troops from Afghanistan.

    Sputnik has discussed a series of questions related to the security of civilians in Afghanistan with Elijah J. Magnier, a war correspondent and Middle East expert.

    Sputnik: Afghanistan has long been suffering from an unstable security situation and the government has been fighting the Taliban* and Daesh*, which has been operating in Afghanistan since 2015. How did it turn out that the Afghan Army and international forces are now killing more civilians than the Taliban and Daesh combined?

    Elijah J. Magnier: Actually, it is not surprising at all, if we look at the previous statistics delivered by the Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs at Brown University, stating that at least 244,000 civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan have died a violent death as a result of the US wars. Civilian deaths have also resulted from the US operation in Yemen, in Syria, in Somalia and in every single country where the US claimed to have carried out its “war on terrorism”. Unfortunately, the US calls these civilian victims “collateral damage” rather than civilians killed by the US forces in an indiscriminate act, in wars where civilians are often targets.

    Sputnik: How strong do you think Daesh and the Taliban are in Afghanistan?

    Elijah J. Magnier: The Taliban is much stronger today than any time in the last decade. The Taliban controls between 52 and 54 provinces in Afghanistan. Therefore, the war has achieved nothing. This is why the US establishment is trying to negotiate a way out some time next year, through Qatar’s mediation.

    Sputnik: How do you think the US support of various Afghan insurgent movements has influenced stability in Afghanistan?

    Elijah J. Magnier: Any group that has been supported by the US in Afghanistan, in Syria and in other places in the Middle East, including Yemen, has met with total failure. We saw how US forces supported regime change in Syria but failed to reach their objective. They tried to control Afghanistan and they failed; the only thing they have managed to do is to prolong the days and years of war and to make miserable the lives of inhabitants of this part of the world. Therefore the US intervention in Afghanistan and in other parts of the Middle East was disastrous. Unfortunately, the US establishment is not learning from history and from its unsuccessful interventions in the Middle East.

    Sputnik: The US administration has planned the withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan several times as you know; now the US is planning to reduce its military presence by half within three to five years, this takes us back to 2013, when Barack Obama announced the withdrawal of half of the US troops from Afghanistan. In spite of this, the US troops are still there; how likely is it that the US withdrawal plans will be fulfilled now?

    Elijah J. Magnier: After 17 years of conflict, the United States and the Taliban may be nearing an agreement to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan. The Taliban commits to refusing access to any organisation or any group like ISIS [Daesh] or Al-Qaeda on its territory. That was the previous objective of the Bush administration when he declared war on Afghanistan. I think at the end of the day, the Taliban will rule because they are ruling a big part of Afghanistan today. I believe the US is trying to find a way out by trying to save face after 17 years of conflict. Therefore the only way to end this war and to stop spending uselessly on it is to stop and pull out. It’s a question of finalising the agreement with the Taliban. The US-led coalition has spent one trillion dollars since 2001, committing 140,000 troops plus 100,000 contractors on the ground. All this [resulted] in an unsuccessful attempt to defeat the Taliban. 5,000 American soldiers and contractors lost their lives in this conflict with very slim results. That’s why Trump wants to get out.

    Sputnik: How can organisations like the United Nations and other public organisations change the situation with the deaths of civilians in Afghanistan?

    Elijah J. Magnier: The United Nations finds its hands tied wherever the Americans are operating. Today, the Americans are disregarding UN rules, resolutions, and efforts in every single country where the US forces are taking part in conflicts. If we look at Libya as an example, the UN is supporting the central government in Tripoli and the Americans are supporting General Khalifa Haftar, who has been attacking the capital Tripoli for over a week. The US shows complete disregard for the role of the UN and UN resolutions, which is creating an imbalance in the order of the world. Soon nobody will listen to the UN because the US is giving a very bad example to all nations united in one place where resolutions should be adopted by these countries, particularly by the five main members of the UN; the Americans reject this order, and are instead implementing policies that will result in global chaos.

    *Daesh (also known as IS, ISIS, ISIL), and the Taliban are terrorist groups, banned in numerous countries, including Russia.

    The views and opinions expressed by the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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