12/29/2014, 00.00
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As NATO "leaves" Afghanistan, the Taliban gets stronger

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) ended its combat operations yesterday, replaced, after more than ten years, by the Resolute Support mission, which will provide assistance and training to local troops. If "the West's goal was to lead the country on the path of democracy, very little seems to have been done," local source told AsiaNews.

Kabul (AsiaNews) - "We have lifted the Afghan people out of the darkness of despair and given them hope for the future," said yesterday General John Campbell, current commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), as he announced the end of 13 years of combat operations in Afghanistan.

Speaking to AsiaNews, a local source, anonymous for security reasons, said that such an account does not correspond to reality at all. "For some, Afghanistan is still hell," he said.

However, "It would be unfair to say that nothing has been done in all these years," he added, but what was done "is certainly very little."

The low-key ceremony saw the ISAF flag lower to be replaced by that of the new mission named Resolute Support, which will mainly include, as of 1 January 2015, training and support mission for the Afghan army.

The ISAF mission began shortly after the attacks on the United States on 11 September 2001, and involved at its peak more than 130,000 troops, from 50 countries.

Starting on Thursday, Resolute Support will bring together around 12,000 men and women from NATO allies and 14 partner nations.

"The security of Afghanistan will be fully in the hands of the country's 350,000 Afghan soldiers and police," said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in a statement.

Yet, more than a decade after this long and expensive mission began, the Taliban are still active and gaining in strength, as evinced by the number of attacks in the past 12 months.

In fact, 2014 has been the bloodiest since 2001, with at least 4,600 members of the Afghan security forces dying in the fight against the Taliban.

Now, "The issue is to understand what, in addition to its combat role, the Western presence has done in the past 13 years," the source told AsiaNews.

"If their task was to defeat the Taliban and terrorism, we can say that something has been done. However, if the West's goal was to lead the country on the path of democracy, very little seems to have been done."

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