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Taliban Became Even Stronger Since US Invaded Afghanistan

Sputnik News

11:53 30.01.2016(updated 15:32 30.01.2016)

Washington's 14-year efforts to defeat the Taliban and bring peace and stability to the country are nearing failure, stoking growing concerns about US President Barack Obama's pledge to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, a report by a government watchdog revealed Friday.

Taliban militants control more of Afghanistan than any time since the US invaded in 2001, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko reported to Congress. Overall, the government controls 71 percent of the territory as insurgent activity by the Taliban and other extremist groups is growing.

'The insurgency is spreading (Afghan security forces) thin, threatening rural districts in one area while carrying out ambitious attacks in more populated centers,' the report read.

Despite the fact the US has spent over $113 billion in Afghan reconstructing the country's infrastructure, it is still in poor condition and is deteriorating.

The report called the Afghan economy's medium-term outlook 'unfavorable' with a growth of around 1.9 percent in 2015. A 'mild' recovery in real GDP growth to 3.1 percent in 2016 and 3.9 percent in 2017 is only possible if the security environment is improved and reforms are implemented.

'Intractable insurgents, cutbacks in foreign military personnel, persistent emigration of people and capital, and a slowing global economy are shifting Afghanistan's economic prospects from troubling to bleak,' the report stated.

Sopko added that the worsening security environment has foiled several reconstruction initiatives in Afghanistan.

'The lack of security has made it almost impossible for many US and even some Afghan officials to get out to manage and inspect US-funded reconstruction projects,' the report read.

Sopko also examined spending in the country and his audits uncovered $17 billion in questionable costs, according to a report by the investigative group ProPublica.

In December 2015, Sopko reported that much of the spending appropriated for the country was not used for defined purposes. For instance, he sent a letter to the Pentagon, demanding clarification on $150 million given to a small group to rebuild the infrastructure of Iraq and Afghanistan. The money was mostly spent on luxurious villas, dinners and security personnel.

Sopko's latest assessment comes as the US is concluding that the worsening security situation in Afghanistan will require the Pentagon to keep combat troops there far longer than President Obama intended, according to NBC News.


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