Remember how the Afghan War “ended” at the end of 2014, only for NATO to announce the “Resolution Support Mission” which was keeping occupation forces, and by extension the war, there through the end of 2016?
Today, without much fanfare, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced that NATO has decided to stay in Afghanistan beyond 2016, and that this will “have a military component.”
Unlike other NATO operations in Afghanistan, which had some sort of deadline attached for them to eventually break, the latest announcement doesn’t include any timeline at all, suggesting the occupation, even rhetorically, is open-ended.
This isn’t entirely surprising, with the US already having a formal deal to keep troops in Afghanistan “through 2024 and beyond,” and seems to ensure that both US and NATO troops will be in Afghanistan for many years to come.
The announcement is likely to be a huge blow to Afghan peace talks, as the Taliban had conditioned any talks on the withdrawal of foreign forces, and NATO seems to be settling in for a long stay.