Afghan Government Controls Less Than 60 Percent Of The Country

In the fifteen years since the US-led intervention in Afghanistan the Taliban are rapidly retaking territory in Afghanistan. This past Wednesday, a US watchdog agency released a report claiming that the Afghanistan government controlled less than 60 percent of the country after security forces retreated from many strongholds last year.

Foreign combat troops withdrew from Afghanistan in 2014. Since then, the Afghanistan government has slowly been losing control over its territory to the Taliban and other groups such as the Islamic State. According to a report released by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, the number of Afghan security forces are decreasing while the number of casualties and the number of districts under insurgent control or influence are increasing.

According to the report, more than 10 percent of districts are under control or influence of insurgents while 33 percent are contested. Figures show that this means approximately 2.5 million people are living in provinces under the control of insurgents, but nearly 9.2 million live in areas which are contested. As the report mentions, this had led to high numbers of civilian casualties as well as high casualty rates for the armed forces with at least 6,785 soldiers and police officers killed and 11,777 wounded in the first 10 months last year.

The loss of territory has been attributed to a number of factors such as a change in strategy and the reallocation of resources to focus on the most threatened areas. There has also been an increase in international influence in the region. In December 2016, the top US commander in Afghanistan, Gen John Nicholson, criticised Russia and Iran for establishing links with the militants, which both countries have confirmed. Pakistan has also been criticised for supporting the Taliban in this region.