U.S. General Secretary: Afghan Army Could Not Live Alone

Harmful tests from Army General Richard Clarke, commander of the U.S. special forces, come 37 days before a deadline expected to be drawn

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AFGHAN regime could not defend itself against attacks by the Taliban and other enemy forces in Afghanistan when the United States left, a U.S. special forces chief who recently visited the country told Congress on Thursday, 37 days before the planned May 1 withdrawal. -President Donald Trump signed last year.

"The power the U.S. gives them to fight the Taliban ... is crucial to their success," Army General Richard Clarke, head of the US Special Operations Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday.

Clarke recently toured the country and saw the new commando headquarters his Afghan counterparts had established. He said "progress has been made and I have found a competent commander." But the escalation of violence perpetrated by the Taliban, along with other rebel groups such as al-Qaida and the Islamic State group, remains difficult for US-backed forces there.

He described the crisis that has plagued the country for the past two decades. It has tried to build an independent and reliable military partner: Packages of success exist, especially in Afghanistan's special forces. However, rampant corruption, unscrupulous leadership, radical changes in the U.S. strategy and unrealistic goals diverted from global realities have thwarted any efforts to build an Afghan force that can protect Western-backed local government itself.

Even those parts of Afghan law that appear to be operating on the battlefield still need specialized skills such as medical evacuation, close air support and intelligence provided only by the U.S. and its Western counterparts.

Meanwhile, bloodshed between Afghan forces is reported to be at an all-time high. Officials in Washington and Kabul have stopped sharing information on the death toll from local forces in recent years and the recent spate of killings has raised new concerns about violence against women.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited NATO headquarters in Brussels this week to consult with his colleagues and make a plan for how to proceed. At the first press conference on Monday, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg noted that the Taliban had not listened to some parts of the so-called Trump deal last year, parts of which are still pending.

"We need to engage with all actors in the region. And we need to see a reduction in violence, and the Taliban must stop supporting foreign terrorists, including al-Qaida," he said.

Some have interpreted the remarks as an argument that the Taliban had violated the treaty first, thus shutting it down and the May 1 withdrawal plans.

Carlke on Thursday also gave reasons why the Taliban violated the terms of the agreement.

"It is clear that the Taliban are not keeping track of what they say they will do" in terms of declining violence, "Clarke said, noting the escalation of attacks on Afghan troops while clearly defining any Western military strikes. He described the "deliberate approach, and the escalation of violence since the signing of the peace accords."