Afghanistan celebrates independence as Taliban power grows

Afghanistan celebrates independence as Taliban power grows

As Afghanistan celebrates the 98th anniversary of its independence from the British Empire today, another English-speaking power mulls its military involvement in

Photo: Reuters/Parwiz

Photo: Reuters/Parwiz

As Afghanistan celebrates the 98th anniversary of its independence from the British Empire today, another English-speaking power mulls its military involvement in the nation.

The debate comes as the Taliban have steadily resurged to their strongest position since 2001, controlling or contesting areas containing more than a third of the country’s 35 million citizens. Taliban attacks have increased even in firmly government held-areas; a June truck bombing in Kabul left more than 80 dead, and mortars struck last year’s Independence Day celebration in provincial capital Asad Abad.

At Camp David, the Trump administration will debate its Afghanistan strategy. Secretary of Defence of Jim Mattis and National Security Adviser HR McMaster support sending an additional 5,000 troops to support the 8,400 American soldiers deployed in Afghanistan, while a plan to replace US troops with private military contractors is being considered.

Private or US Army troop escalation is expected to be used to ramp up combat operations, scuttling any plans for a unity government with the Taliban. Afghanis will likely find themselves in a familiar situation; the US-backed government will continue to control major population centres, while the Taliban strengthens its grip on the expansive rural countryside