Afghans on US troop increase: ‘Will it make us safer?’

Afghans say Trump’s new strategy does not address issues such as unemployment, corruption and safety of civilians.

Afghans say after 16 years of troops in their homeland the situation has only deteriorated [Rahmat Gul/AP]
Afghans say after 16 years of troops in their homeland the situation has only deteriorated [Rahmat Gul/AP]

In August, US President Donald Trump announced a plan to boost US troops presence in Afghanistan, raising the number of soldiers from 8,400 to 11,000.

As part of the new strategy under the Trump administration, the US military will also train and advise Afghan security forces in the fight against the growing influence of Taliban armed group.

But not all Afghans are impressed with Trump’s focus on winning the war against the Taliban militarily, as it fails to address problems like unemployment, corruption and lack of education and health.

Afghans are worried at the rising civilian casualties in recent years. Armed groups such as Taliban, which control large parts of the country, and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) have exacted a heavy toll on civilian lives. On the other hand, hundreds have become a collateral damage to the US drones/air raids.

According to a July UN report, the number of civilians killed and wounded in Afghanistan reached a record high in the first six months of 2017.

Al Jazeera speaks to Afghans about their fear and hope amid a resurgent Taliban and more American boots on the ground.

Ramiz RayanDoctor at Sardar Mohammad Dawood Khan Military Hospital, Kabul
As a doctor, Ramiz, 30, wants to help people in Afghanistan [Al Jazeera]

If we look at the new US strategy, we see that both sides, the Taliban and the US, are talking about winning.

It is sad to see that no one is talking about the people living in the midst of this battle.

When I see so many dead and injured rushed to our hospital, it makes me wonder what is the point of this war?

I am not sure what will happen in the future and what do we have to do to survive, but I know one thing that ultimately, this war has affected us tremendously, mentally and physically.

You will find many people going through permanent post-traumatic stress disorder, which in most cases are not even identified, let alone being treated.

We’ve lost hope, but as a young Afghan, I will still continue to work for this country and help as a doctor.

Ahmad Etemadi, 27, Graduate in Public Policy

What I have seen throughout my life that the presence of foreign troops have brought some jobs in the country.

Etimadi hopes increase in US troops will bring jobs to the country [Al Jazeera]

When the US combat role ended in 2014, many people lost their jobs as translators and interpreters, and poverty and unemployment increased.

I am particularly worried about jobs because I am jobless and cannot find anything in this country for myself.

I do want US troops to stay so that we can have more opportunities to work and have better education and social services.

We have to look forward to the positive things while the war is ongoing or else we will not be able to survive its consequences.

Shahab Amiri, 25, Freelance Journalist

Do we want a better Afghanistan? This is the question every Afghan should ask themselves.

Shahab hopes that the presence of US troops is for the betterment [Al Jazeera]

It is a difficult question, because if we look at it, the increase in the US troops will bring more conflict and violence as the Taliban has vowed to fight them back.

But with this new strategy, we are hoping that it will bring us more NGOs, medical help, education and jobs.

What is also good that Afghan forces are receiving training from the US troops which will help them in protecting our country in a much better way.

Women will be able to work, study and be independent. Like they are right now.

However, all of this will come at a cost. Afghan civilians will continue to die either by the armed groups or US air raids. I ask myself everyday, “will I be alive tomorrow?” So do we need a better Afghanistan or do we want to be just alive?

Evaz Ali SaadatUniversity Lecturer

This time around it looks like the US is more than determined to train Afghan security forces to be able to fight the insurgency.

Afghan forces should work on protecting civilians [Al Jazeera]

And indeed, it is the time to focus on that now. We need to have our security forces properly trained to fight the militants in the country.

This will overcome a lot of security challenges, and Afghan forces will be able to protect civilians.

All these suicide attacks that are taking place across the country might decrease if the security and intelligence situation gets better.

I think this time around, Trump’s strategy to focus on just training the military will help in bringing some good changes.

Seraajul-al-Din Alimi, Psychologist

It does not make any difference whether we accept the presence of the US troops in Afghanistan or not.

Alimi believes the war has taken a toll on the youth of Afghanistan [Al Jazeera]

It is happening and we, as Afghans, cannot stop it.

If you look at their (US troops) method of fighting the war, it seems like they are not looking at the overall picture of the country while taking decisions.

They are not looking at providing a safe future. Instead, they are focusing on winning a war.

So this war is basically to claim victory but at the cost of Afghan lives.

Many innocent people have died and will continue to die, with or without the US. The war has taken a toll on us. Many people have been born and brought up in this war and have a war-driven mentality. This is not normal.

No child deserves to grow up in a war-torn country.

So at this point, we as Afghans, would want the US troops to leave and let us decide the fate of our country ourselves.

As no matter what they did in the past, they failed in pushing the Taliban back and decreasing the number of attacks.

With reporting by Sakina Amani in Kabul

Source : Al Jazeera


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