KABUL (Dispatches) – Commenting on Norway’s plan to end its years-long operation in Afghanistan, Prime Minister Erna Solberg has acknowledged that almost 20 years of military action failed to result in a peaceful solution, national broadcaster NRK reported.
The Norwegian troops of 95 is scheduled to be among the last to leave Afghanistan by the 11 September deadline. The pullout officially started on 1 May.
“An important lesson from Afghanistan is that the conflict cannot be resolved militarily”, Solberg acknowledged.
A total of 9,200 Norwegians have served in Afghanistan. Ten soldiers were killed, and two Norwegian civilians lost their lives in connection with the war. Solberg pointed out that enormous sums have been spent on humanitarian aid, without the campaign’s stated goals being met. Since 2001, Norway has spent nearly $1.5 billion.
“Unfortunately, it is far from being a stable state and a peaceful, democratic society”, Solberg admitted.
Solberg cautioned of the risks associated with massive international withdrawal.
Norwegian opposition, which has slammed Norway’s participation and pullout both, said the prime minister “sugarcoated” the Afghan war.
“The prime minister hardly mentioned anything about the people who have been killed, injured, or forced to flee,” said the leader of the opposition Red Party, Bjørnar Moxnes. “The war has completely failed in its attempt to fight terrorism.”
Meanwhile, Washington’s envoy to Kabul told AFP that Daesh remains a “potent” force in Afghanistan.
Acting U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ross Wilson also accused the Taliban of breaching agreements in talks even as U.S. troops continued their withdrawal.
Wilson said the group had launched “substantial” offensives in recent months against government forces and civilians, “targeting them... in marketplaces and in a whole variety of cities and towns around the country.”
The U.S. attacked Afghanistan in 2001, claiming that the Taliban were harboring al-Qaeda. The invasion removed a Taliban regime from power but prompted widespread militancy and insecurity across the Asian country. The war has taken countless lives, including of Afghan civilians.
All foreign troops were supposed to have been withdrawn from Afghanistan by May 1, as part of an agreement that the U.S. had reached with the Taliban in the Qatari capital, Doha, last year.
But U.S. President Joe Biden last month pushed that date back to September 11.
The Taliban warned that the passing of the May 1 deadline for a complete withdrawal “opened the way for” the militants to take every counteraction they deemed appropriate against foreign forces in the county.