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    UK Mulls More Special Ops in Afghanistan, but the Road to Peace Lies Elsewhere

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    Former career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service, Bhadrakumar Melkulangara, underscored the need for a peaceful, rather than military, solution to the crisis in Afghanistan, while London is reportedly mulling covert operations in the country.

    Mr. Melkulangara said that now that all Western attempts to defeat the Taliban have failed, the conflicting sides should start looking for a negotiated end to the 16-year-old conflict.

    “What have the US and Britain really achieved by fighting this war for 16 years? I believe that what we need are inter-Afghan negotiations to end the conflict now that the Western powers have completely failed even to explain what they are going to do,” Bhadrakumar Melkulangara wondered.

    Meanwhile, the United Kingdom is contemplating waging more covert operations in Afghanistan that will target jihadists groups, The Sunday Times reported.

    “In his speech on Washington’s new Afghan strategy, President Trump said that special operations were needed [to fight Daesh terrorists] and I believe that, in a sense, they could be quite effective,” Bhadrakumar Melkulangara said.

    He added that the British would clearly fall in line with Washington’s new strategy.

    “However, I think that it would be extremely relevant for the British to explain how Daesh figures in the US strategy in the light of the experience of Iraq and Syria. This is what the region is mostly concerned about and there is total silence about this,” Melkulangara pointed out.

    The British move comes amid concerns that Afghanistan could be lost to the Taliban if the US troops pull out.

    When asked how justified these concerns really are, Bhadrakumar Melkulangara said that it was essentially a propagandistic stunt.

    “The Americans want to show that they are irreplaceable, that they have done a marvelous job and that they should continue doing this. Trump didn’t say why the US military bases in Afghanistan should stay on.”

    When queried about how the UK special operations could help improve the situation in Afghanistan, Bhadrakumar Melkulangara said that with the 120,000-strong US military contingent still in place in Afghanistan, the several hundred troops London is going to send there will only be playing a secondary role assisting US military and CIA operations.

    Regarding widespread fears that British special operations in Afghanistan could result in human rights abuses by Special Air Service (SAS) commandos, Bhadrakumar Melkulangara said that “this is going to be an extremely violent period.” He also mentioned the likelihood of military contractors coming in.

    “This is exactly what former Afghan President Hamid Karzai had in mind when he said that there is a very dangerous situation arising because once again we’ll see landing parties, bombings, etc.,” Melkulangara warned.

    He added that there would be no lasting peace in Afghanistan unless some of the Taliban’s demands are met and that the terms and conditions of the Taliban’s integration is something everyone should now focus on.

    “The thesis that the Taliban would eventually be degraded and brought to the negotiating table is an old tale we have heard under President Barack Obama. The problem is, however, that the Taliban adamantly insists that there must be an end to the country’s foreign occupation.”

    Bhadrakumar Melkulangara added that US military bases are the main stumbling block on the way to a peaceful resolution of the Afghan conflict because, with the exception of those in Afghanistan who have vested interests in the continued Western presence in the country, the majority of the Afghan people want the US military bases to leave.

    “I think that regional powers should speak up and insist that there is no military solution to this conflict,” he concluded.

    The UK is expected to deploy Special Air Service and Special Boat Service operatives to assess what kinds of troops are needed for a new Afghan deployment.

    The intentions to introduce special operations in Afghanistan come as UK intelligence agencies warn that the Central Asian country could be lost to the Taliban if the US were to withdraw its troops.

    According to The Sunday Times, intelligence agencies have played a crucial role in convincing President Trump to increase the military presence in Afghanistan. There are 500 British troops currently stationed in the country.

    The ongoing war has cost UK taxpayers over 40 billion pounds. Nearly 500 military personnel have died in the conflict.

    Related:

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    Tags:
    wrong way, US Afghan strategy, covert operations, political settlement, conflict, UK Special Air Service, Taliban, Bhadrakumar Melkulangara, Donald Trump, Barack Obama, Hamid Karzai
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