A Bloody Start to Ramadan in Afghanistan

The US backed Afghan president Ashraf Ghani called for a Ramadan truce with the Taliban this year, but the Taliban rejected it, continuing attacks against Afghan government forces. The Taliban insisted there will not be any ceasefires or peace until foreign troops have left the country. Spokesman for the Taliban Zabiullah Mujahid tweeted on May 2nd, "@US4AfghanPeace(US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad) should forget about the idea of us putting down our arms. Instead of such fantasies, he should drive the idea home (US) about ending the use of force & incurring further human & financial losses for the decaying Kabul administration."

The first days of Ramadan have been especially bloody in Afghanistan, with a coalition airstrike targeting Taliban drug labs late Sunday night. The Afghan defense ministry claimed the airstrikes took out 68 drug labs and killed 150 insurgents. But according to Abdul Ghafoor Mujahid, the Governor of the Bakwa district, the airstrike killed at least 45 civilians who were working in labs and only 18 Taliban fighters.

On Monday the Taliban stormed a checkpoint, killing 20 Afghan soldiers in Afghanistan’s western Farah province. In the eastern Laghman province on Tuesday the Taliban targeted policeman in an attack, killing four police officers.

US funded aid group Counterpart International was the target of an attack on Wednesday. The Taliban set off an explosion at the office of Counterpart International in Kabul, starting a 6-hour long battle with security forces claiming at least 5 lives.

This daily violence has continued in Afghanistan despite the United States and Taliban starting a new round of peace talks on May 1st.

Zabiullah Mujahid made it clear in a statement on the Taliban website that they will only begin internal peace talks with the government in Kabul after they have settled peace talks with the United States, "The Islamic Emirate is currently busy negotiating the end of occupation with the American side. After reaching an agreement with the American side during talks, the Islamic Emirate has plans of holding dialogue and solving domestic issues with the internal sides."

Until a full withdrawal of US troops happens, the Taliban will see the Afghan government as a puppet regime of a foreign occupying power and peace between them will be impossible. The war in Afghanistan has been a colossal failure and embarrassment for the United States. The almost 18-year war could have ended in a few weeks if the Bush administration was willing to meet the Taliban’s reasonable demands to turn over Bin Laden. All they wanted was evidence that he was involved in the attacks on September 11th, but the US war machine was awoken on 9/11 and the American public was still reeling from the attacks, so there was little objection to continuing the war on the Taliban.

Dave DeCamp is a freelance journalist based in Brooklyn NY, focusing on US Foreign policy and wars. He is on Twitter at @decampdave.