Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

AAN in the Media

An increase in bombings spreads fear in Afghanistan. It could also be a message to President Trump

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Los Angeles Times/San Diego Union-Tribune, 29 January 2018

The newspapers quote from Thomas Ruttig’s latest AAN analysis of 2017 security trends in Afghanistan:

Since the end of 2014, when the U.S.-led coalition shifted to more of an advisory role and gave Afghan forces responsibility for security, the annual number of “security incidents” recorded by the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan has risen by more than 10%, according to an analysis published Monday by Thomas Ruttig, co-director of the Kabul-based Afghanistan Analysts Network.

“All parties to the conflict — the Taliban, the Afghan and the U.S. government — are almost entirely focused on the war … and achieving military advantage,” Ruttig wrote.

Under Obama’s surge, the number of U.S. troops rose from fewer than 40,000 to nearly 100,000, and the pace of fighting rose at the same time.

“What happened during Obama’s surge of 2010 to 2012 could be repeated, that we see a mutually reinforcing spiral of escalation of the conflict,” Ruttig wrote.

The recent attacks also point to a bloody tussle between the Taliban — Afghanistan’s largest insurgent group — and supporters of Islamic State, who U.S. officials say number less than 1,000 in pockets of eastern and northern Afghanistan. The tit-for-tat bombings by members of the rival militant groups, Ruttig said in an interview, reflects “something of a competition over who, on the insurgents’ side, dominates the war theater.”