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17th US commander takes over America's longest war



The 17th Commander, who led the NATO and US forces in Afghanistan in the longest US war, took over the change of command on Sunday morning in Kabul.

General Austin Scott Miller of The US Army is taking over at a time when Afghanistan is experiencing a combination of hope, anxiety and insecurity.

A first ceasefire between the parties to the conflict during the Eid-al-Fitr Muslim Festival in June was followed by direct contacts between Taliban and US representatives in Qatar, hoping that negotiations with the Taliban would soon start on a political solution to the 17 Years old conflict.

These hopes were dashed last month when the Taliban failed to reciprocate President Ashraf Ghani's offer for a second truce during the holy Eid al-Adha festival.

General John Nicholson, the outgoing commander, pointed out The Taliban's decision may have been influenced by its foreign supporters

  The outgoing US Army general John Nicholson, left, and the incoming US Army general Austin Miller, second from left, preparing for the change of command ceremony at the Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, September 2, 201<div class="e3lan e3lan-in-post1"><script async src="//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js"></script>
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Outgoing US Army General John Nicholson, left, and incoming US Army General Austin Miller, second from left, prepare for the change of command ceremony at Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, September 2, 2018.

"I believe that some of the Taliban also want peace, but they are encouraged to continue fighting," he said as he addressed the ceremony. He appealed to the Taliban sense of nationalism.

"I have to tell the Taliban that you do not have to kill your Afghans any more, you do not have to kill your fellow Muslims … whose voice is more important, the outsiders who encourage you to fight, or the voice of your own people that encourage you to peace. "

US Both officials and Afghans have long accused Pakistan of offering safe havens to the leadership of the Afghan Taliban – a lawsuit denied by Islamabad.

During the ceasefire in June, Taliban fighters went to the cities and stayed with Afghan civilians. Some of them even went so far as to offer oaths and take selfies with their enemies in the Afghan security forces. Many of them admitted to journalists that they were tired of the struggle, but also reaffirmed their loyalty to their Amir in the Afghan Taliban, whom they consider their sacred leader.

  FILE - The Taliban are walking in the Ghanichel district of Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, June 16, 2018.

FILE – The Taliban are walking when in Ghanikhel district, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, on June 16, 2018 celebrate the ceasefire.

The brief break from the violence did not last long. The Taliban attacks after the truce were as bloody as before. One of them, the attack on Ghazni, a provincial capital near Kabul, was so organized and bloody that it rattled the Afghan forces and led to the forced resignation of National Security Advisor Hanif Atmar.

  FILE - Afghan shopkeepers try to recover articles from burning shops following a Taliban attack in Ghazni city, Afghanistan, August 14, 2018.

FILE – Afghan shopkeepers attempt to launch a Taliban attack in Ghazni, Afghanistan August 14, 2018 to recover items from burning shops.

It took a few days for the Afghan forces to be assisted by the US Air Force to liberate the city of Taliban fighters.

The emphasis in Washington and Kabul remains on moving the Taliban into negotiations. General Miller confirmed this in his speech.

"We know that the military component is only part of this conditional strategy and it is necessary to make room for political progress." However, if these efforts soon do not bear fruit, some in Washington fear President Donald Trump who announced last year his South Asian policy against his instinct would lose patience.

  FILE - Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Answers questions from reporters during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington.

FILE – Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Answers questions from reporters during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington.

According to The Washington Post President Trump Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky said he wanted to move out of Afghanistan. One of the reasons for his impatience is the high price. The US Congress spent more than $ 46 billion on military operations next year. For the past 17 years, the US has spent more than $ 1 trillion in the country, according to the Congressional Research Service.

General Miller, like the commanders before him, advocated a continuation of the US military presence in Afghanistan, at least until the country stabilized.

"There are groups in Afghanistan who do nothing but harm others, these groups thrive in unregulated areas … We need to put pressure on them to ensure that terrorists can never use Afghanistan as a safe haven to threaten the world, "he said, repeating his predecessors.

Afghanistan is not a new territory for Miller, who several years ago served as head of special operations here. He was also one of the American soldiers dispatched to the country in 2001 at the outbreak of the war.

In his last job, he served as the head of the Joint Special Operations Command, which employed some elite units of the US military, such as the SEAL team, 6 the unit involved in the high-risk operation that killed Osama bin Laden deep in Pakistan ,

The strength of the US and NATO troops he leads now stands at 23,000, after a one-time high of nearly 150,000 troops more than the nearly 9,000 forces that served in the country as President Barack Obama took office left. About half or about 14,000 of them are American troops.


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