U.S. Army General: Russian involvement in Afghanistan becoming ‘more difficult’

Russian meddling in Afghanistan has grown increasingly bothersome over the past year, according to the top U.S. military commander in the war zone, who says Moscow is promoting a dangerous “false narrative” to bolster the Taliban after 15 years of American involvement in the conflict. “The Russian involvement this year has become more difficult,” Army Gen. John Nicholson, the commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday morning, expressing particular frustration toward Russian efforts to “publicly legitimize the Taliban.” “This narrative that they promote is that the Taliban are fighting the Islamic State and the Afghan government is not fighting Islamic State and therefore there can be a spillover of this group into the region,” Gen. Nicholson said. “This is a false narrative,” he said, asserting that U.S.-trained Afghan government forces, along with American counter-terrorism units have made significant gains against the Islamic State in Afghanistan, reducing the group’s fighters in the nation by half and cutting its territory by two thirds. But Gen. Nicholson also acknowledged growing difficulty in the simultaneous campaign against the Taliban, the main Islamic militant group in Afghanistan that American and coalition forces have targeted for more than a decade on grounds it harbored al Qaeda terrorists during the lead-up to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. The general’s testimony came amid mounting speculation over how the Trump administration may seek to change Washington’s policy toward the war in Afghanistan, which President Obama had hoped to end before leaving office last month. During an exchange with Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican and the Armed Services Committee’s chairman, Gen. Nicholson said some 13,000 U.S. and coalition forces remaining in Afghanistan are in “a stalemate” against the Taliban. He acknowledged a recent Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction assessment that Taliban forces control roughly 15 percent more territory today than they did two years ago. Afghan government troops are presently leading the campaign against the Taliban, with U.S. forces providing air support. Gen. Nicholson told lawmakers that the overall effort would benefit from “a few thousand” more U.S. troops to beef up training of the Afghan forces and to assist the ongoing campaign against the Taliban. Apart from his comments on Russia, meanwhile, the general said he’s also concerned about the roles being played by Iran and Pakistan in Afghanistan. They, along with Russia, he said, “continue to legitimize and support the Taliban and undermine the Afghan government’s efforts to create a stable Afghanistan.”

They do indeed…  As someone who spent some time in Afghanistan, I’m well aware of the proxy war we’ve been fighting with Iran..for well over a decade.


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