Political disagreements did not end with General Dostum’s departure from the cabinet. The NUG dismissed Ahmad Zia Massoud, the president’s representative for good governance and reform. The conditioned resignation letter of Ata Mohammad Noor.
Afghanistan began the year 2017 (1396/solar year) with fear and hope. However, despite the bloody attacks that the country witnessed in the first quarter of 2017, the year began with full of hope and had some sort of achievements.
The Afghan people started the year 2017 when the flames of war continued to drown and the residents of the war zones were breathing easier. However, Lashkar Gah, Uruzgan, Kunduz and Pul-e Khumri were surrounded by the insurgents and the possibility of their fall was likely by the Taliban.
But with the start of the year 96, president Ghani addressed the Taliban and their supporters that their calculation on Afghanistan was wrong.
“My message to the enemies of Afghanistan is clear. You made a mistake two years ago, you made a mistake last year, do not repeat your miscalculation. If you look evil on this soil, it will be your grave,” president Ghani said.
War and violence continued throughout the country during 1396 (2017). Although no province collapsed by the insurgents the battlefields were hot in 96.
One of the changes in the tactics of war is targeting religious centers. During the year 96, several mosques and religious centers were targeted in Afghanistan leaving many casualties. It is feared that attacks on religious centers continue in the New Year as Daesh (ISIL/ISIS) is claiming the responsibility for these attacks and this group is expanding its sphere of influence in the war-torn country.
Crises and Differences within government
While the national unity government (NUG) prevented the collapse of the provinces, internal disputes, especially at the level of government leadership, were on the rise. The first vice president General Abdul Rashid Dostum was accused of harassing one of his former supporters.
The disagreements between the presidential palace and General Dostum escalated day by day, and these differences ultimately led to Mr. Dostum’s blockade. General Dostum warned that Kabul will see war and killings in case police attack his house.
Although the government was not able to prosecute Dostum, he is currently in an unannounced exile outside Afghanistan.
Political disagreements did not end with General Dostum’s departure from the cabinet. The NUG dismissed Ahmad Zia Massoud, the president’s representative for good governance and reform. The conditioned resignation letter of Ata Mohammad Noor, the governor of Balkh signed in the last quarter of the year, but disagreements continue between President Ghani and Ata Mohammad Noor.
Playing game charges with Pakistan
Accusation between Afghanistan and Pakistan continued through 96. While Afghanistan accused Pakistan of supporting the Taliban and other insurgent groups, Pakistan handed over a list of 76 people to the Afghan government after a bloody attack on Sufi shrine in Sindh.
The Pakistani government claimed these 76 terrorists organize attacks in Pakistan from Afghanistan. In response to the allegation, the government of Afghanistan handed over a long list to the Pakistani government. The names of terrorists, who have safe havens in Pakistan and launch bloody attacks inside Afghanistan were on the list.
On the other hand, the political tensions had affected the trade and transit routes. Pakistan did not allow Afghan traders to transfer their goods through Karachi port – a measure that caused inflation in Afghanistan.
Simultaneously, despite insecurity, cold weather and lack of facilities, a large number of Afghan migrants returned to their country from the neighboring countries in 2017.
“More than 30 percent of raw materials and over 30 containers of plastic materials stopped. On the one hand, our factories affected and the number of unemployment leveled up, on the other hand, a serious problem paralyzed transit,” said Khanjan Alokozay, the deputy chairman of the Afghanistan chamber of commerce and industries.
Pakistan’s economic and transit pressures on Afghanistan have led the NUG to look for alternative ways to business. As a result, the government tried to connect with the world through Chabahar port. The first shipment of wheat donated by India arrived in Kabul a few months ago.
The Afghan government will no longer allow Pakistani trucks to enter Afghanistan and trade with Central Asia while Afghanistan’s trade has flourished with Asian countries.
Deadly attacks in 1396/2017
2017 was a deadly year for Afghanistan. Taliban and Daesh carried out bloody attacks on military and civilian targets.
The attack on 209 Shaheen corps in Mazar-e Sharif jolted Afghanistan. 150 (official statistic) people were killed during the assault. The government invited people to unity and solidarity while a wave of criticism filled the social and political atmosphere due to the incompetency of the government.
“If we do not pass through these sensitive moments, according to the president of Afghanistan, our five generation will be in instability,” said Shah Hussain Mortazavi, the acting head of presidential press office.
A deadly attack close to the German embassy shocked the people of Afghanistan, especially the residents of Kabul once again. More than 80 people were killed and 300 others wounded in this incident. Parts of the German embassy destroyed and the residents of Kabul protested and demonstrated against the government.
A peace agreement with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was one of the NUG’s achievements in 2017. Hekmatyar, who fought against the government and the foreign forces for fifteen years, finally signed the peace agreement with the government and abandoned armed opposition.
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar talked about peace after entering Kabul. President Ashraf Ghani emphasized his administration does everything to achieve peace. “Our today’s gathering once again prove that the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has a strong commitment reaching peace and will give more sacrifice in this regard.”
Although it was believed that peace with Hekmatyar would reduce fighting in Afghanistan, it did not. The Taliban continued to fight despite the government’s peace efforts.
New US strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia
Afghanistan faced with an uncertain future at a time when the country was suffering war and insecurity. After 15 years of war, The United States and NATO – biggest supporters of the government – were reducing their financial and military support.
Afghanistan has once again become a forgotten war for the world, and there was no desire to continue helping the country. At the peak hopelessness for the future, the United States announced its new strategy on Afghanistan.
The strategy vowed that US forces have authority to suppress terror groups in Afghanistan and no date set for their withdrawal. Welcoming the strategy, president Ghani said: “We were in a state of ambiguity about the future. Today, we are in a situation that ambiguity is moving away, the future path of Afghanistan is clear.”
Speaking in Arlington, Donald Trump spoke about a bit increase of US troops in Afghanistan.
The promise of justice
At the height of the war, massacre, and displacement, a promising news was also released to survivors in 2017. The International Criminal Court ordered the investigation into human rights violation in Afghanistan.
The decision was announced at a time when the Afghan people did not have any hope for justice and to address widespread human rights violation. Human rights organizations announced in a press conference that families of victims can deliver their documents to the International Criminal Court for justice.
“The International Criminal Court will deal with war crimes against humanity that took place since 1 May 2003 in Afghanistan,” said Naeem Nazari, a human rights activists.
The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) said that despite the achievements in the field of human rights, there is still a long way for the people of Afghanistan to reach justice and human rights.
1 and 2 Kabul Process and the government’s peace offer to Taliban
Kabul hosted two so-called Kabul process conference in 1396 (solar year). In the second conference, Kabul offered a peace plan to Taliban, giving Taliban unprecedented privileges, including releasing political inmates, office in Kabul, passports, removing the names of their leaders from the international blacklist and providing their security in the country, which received various internal and foreign reactions.
Taliban rejected the peace offer and called for a direct talk with America.
Tensions between ARG and Balkh
The presidential palace signed Balkh Governor Ata M. Noor’s conditioned resignation letter at the heart of winter season in 1396. The news which was widely published in the national and international media outlets was not accepted by Ata M. Noor and started to form a new political crisis later this year.
Tensions between Balkh and Kabul continued as international partners also engaged in this case. The United Nations, US Vice President Mike Pence and some other international community officials have called for a political reconciliation of the tensions.
Although there is tension between ARG and Balkh but news released on media outlets indicating that talks started between Jamiat-e Islami and presidential palace.
It is believed that the tensions between Balkh and ARG is still ongoing and require more talks.
A number of political figures gathered in Kandahar in the winter season as tensions between Balkh and ARG reached its peak in 1396. The political faces beside declaring support from Ata M. Noor’s stance, called for reforms in government and holding a timely election.
What occurred in sidelines of the summit in Kandahar and swept the whole movement, was the prevention of plane carrying Ata M. Noor and Batur Dostum from the Mawlana J. M. Balkhi international airport. Since then, Ata M. Noor said this action of the government indicates the peak of totalitarianism and dictatorship.
Formation of political movements
In 1396, four political movements formed against the government criticizing its political tyranny and monopolizing power within a special circle.
Mehwar-e Mardom-e Afghanistan, Rastakhiz-e Taghir, Tawafoq-e Milli wa Taghir and Sabzha movement in Herat are the four main political movements formed in 2017.
In the meantime, Tawafoq-e Milli wa Taghir (National Consensus and Change) took a step forward by offering the National Accord Government calling for a change in sovereignty.
Although the plan of National Accord Government announced less than two months ago, it has been able to attract the support of circles, movements and major political figures.
The year 1396 ends when there is no hope for peace in this country. In the last days of this year, Daesh terror group has expanded its influence in the northern province of Jawzjan, while the Taliban, as the largest opposition armed group, continue fighting against the government forces.