Small Wars Journal

‘You Didn’t Take Action’: Afghans Reject Official Narrative of War Against Taliban

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 2:42pm

‘You Didn’t Take Action’: Afghans Reject Official Narrative of War Against Taliban by Craig Nelson – Wall Street Journal

FARAH, Afghanistan—The weekend visit by a high-level delegation from Kabul to this now calm provincial capital in western Afghanistan promised to be a victory lap of sorts, after the Taliban were driven from the city following two days of fierce fighting last week.

But if President Ashraf Ghani’s cabinet members and a U.S. commander thought they would bask in the laurels of a hard-earned military victory, local officials and residents quickly, and often scathingly, disabused them of that idea during a Saturday meeting in the heavily-guarded office of the provincial governor.

The local meeting participants challenged every element of the government’s account of the fighting in Farah and accused the war’s administrators of corruption, cowardice and perhaps worst of all, indifference.

“I don’t want to thank the guests who came from Kabul. As high-ranking officials, they need to do their jobs better,” said Nematullah Barakzai, a self-described civil-society activist, addressing the Afghan ministers of defense and interior, the director of the country’s intelligence agency and U.S. Army Gen. John Nicholson, who commands international forces in Afghanistan.

The outpouring of anger and frustration directed at such an unusual gathering outside Kabul of the most powerful figures in Afghanistan’s security establishment comes as the resurgent Taliban, the country’s largest Islamist militant group, presses government forces across the country…

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