How big is too big?
Starting on June 15, the Taliban and Afghan security forces held a three-day ceasefire to celebrate Eid al-Fitr. The Taliban resumed fighting on June 18, although Afghan President Ashrif Ghani had asked to extend the ceasefire.
To respect the public’s wishes and to support their demands about peace, I am ordering the security and defense forces to extend the ceasefire from the fourth day of Eid. We will soon share the details of the proposed ceasefire with the nation.
— Ashraf Ghani (@ashrafghani) June 16, 2018
Videos posted on social media appeared to show Taliban fighters and civilians interacting and celebrating together.
But the three days weren’t entirely peaceful. Al-Jazeera reported a first attack on June 16 in Nangarhar province, which was claimed by ISIS and killed at least 30 people and wounded more than 65. There was another attack on June 17, a suicide bombing close to the governor’s office in Jalalabad, which killed at least 18 people. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the second attack.
This tenuous weekend represents the profound difficulty of Afghanistan. The conflict is the longest military engagement by the United States — troops have been there since October of 2001, at a tremendous cost to Afghans and Americans alike. The United Nations reported that over 10,000 Afghan civilians were killed in 2017 alone. Thousands of American servicemembers have died there too — about 2,400. And the U.S. has spent nearly $2 trillion dollars on the conflict.
Is there a disconnect between American politicians and servicemembers in Afghanistan? Is it time for the U.S. to withdraw? What would make a peaceful resolution possible?
- Courtney Kube National security and military reporter, NBC News; @ckubenbc
- Michael Kugelman Deputy Director, Asia Program at the Wilson Center; @michaelkugelman
- Kristen Rouse Veteran, United States Army; director, New York City Veterans Alliance; Director, Asia Program at the Wilson Center; @trueboots
- Matt Zeller Veteran, United States Army; co-founder, No One Left Behind; @mattczeller
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