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Afghanistan: Between A Rock And A Hard Place

Al-Mada, Iraq, February 22

Last January, the White House put a freeze on $1 billion in aid to Pakistan, in response to what President Trump described as Islamabad’s failure to assist American counter-terrorism efforts in the Middle East. In a tweet posted at the time, Trump accused Pakistan of giving the U.S. “nothing but lies and deception.” The suspension of aid dramatically effected Pakistan, as Islamabad has historically relied on the assistance to train its military and police personnel as well as to provide legitimacy to and thus ensure the stability of the government. However, Islamabad has also been supporting the Taliban and its affiliates operating across the border in Afghanistan. This has led to a situation in which U.S. aid has been used to undermine American interests in the region. But Pakistan is not alone. Iran, too, has been a staunch supporter of armed groups in Afghanistan, sending the Taliban both munitions and cash. Ever since the U.S. withdrew most of its forces from Afghanistan in 2014, Kabul has worked hard to restore stability to the country. However, the Afghan government’s chief struggle has been combating terror groups such as the Taliban, which has increased its attacks in recent months. Just last week more than 20 Afghan soldiers were killed in a series of attacks carried out by the Taliban in the capital. It seems as though Afghanistan, which has endured so many foreign invasions throughout its history, is once again becoming a playground for foreign powers. Caught between Pakistani and Iranian aggression, and barely supported by the current U.S. administration, Afghanistan has once again been left alone to battle for survival. The Taliban understands this dynamic very well and is therefore taking advantage of the opportunity to resurface and win over the support of the masses. It is doing so pretty successfully, while the White House looks the other way.  – Hadaa al-Husseini