US Marine Corps Commandant General Robert Neller shocked observers Wednesday at a US Navy Department briefing when he made the tone-deaf claim that American forces and their Afghan partners are the mujahedeen in Afghanistan now.
Afghanistan is currently experiencing a resurgence of violence. During the spring, the country typically sees an uptick in insurgent activity as the winter is often spent harvesting poppies for opium production. However, violence during this year’s growing season didn’t dwindle as in years past, which experts believe signifies an even more intense fighting season. Already, a slew of terrorist attacks have left many Afghan security forces and civilians dead and civil infrastructure destroyed by bombs.
Neller’s statement was in response to a reporter’s question about how the US will deal with this uptick, as US officials have offered contradictory statements in recent weeks about the viability of coming to a political solution with the Taliban. For example, Acting Secretary of State John J Sullivan, in an April 25 press release in which he agreed with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, responded to the Taliban’s announcement of their spring offensive by noting that “the Taliban should turn their bullets and bombs into ballots. They should run for office. They should vote. We encourage Taliban leaders to return to Afghanistan from their foreign safe havens and work constructively for Afghanistan’s future.”