The Dangers of a Hasty Retreat from Afghanistan

As U.S.-backed negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban continue, and the latter engages in shows of force and deadly attacks, the White House has promised a steep draw down of American troops there. Noah Rothman explains the perils of a precipitous departure:

On Wednesday alone, Taliban forces killed 34 soldiers loyal to Kabul, including a provincial police chief, in overnight attacks in a province bordering Tajikistan. There were two Taliban-linked suicide car bombings in nearby Kandahar province on Wednesday amid sporadic engagements between terrorist elements and Afghan troops. And Lashkargah, the capital of Helmand province, has been host to frequent clashes between Taliban insurgents and government forces, and more than 200 casualties are now attributable to the fighting.

Americans are and have been eager to wash their hands of the seemingly fruitless conflict in Afghanistan, but a rushed withdrawal that is obviously timed for maximum domestic political benefit isn’t strategically sound. . . . Republicans accused Barack Obama of pursuing just such a heedless strategy in Iraq, and they were vindicated when U.S. troops were redeployed to that Middle Eastern country after the Islamic State militia spilled over the Syrian border and rapidly routed the unready Iraqi Security Forces. That should be a sobering legacy even for those who want out of Afghanistan regardless of the country’s security conditions.

The only thing worse than keeping troops in Afghanistan one minute longer would be having to go back at a time and place that is not of our choosing and in response to a grotesque human-rights violation or the revitalization of the transnational terrorist groups who call that country home.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Afghanistan, Barack Obama, Iraq, Taliban, U.S. Foreign policy, War on Terror

Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security