Secretary of State James Mattis made a surprise visit to Afghanistan on Friday, visiting Kabul with Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joe Dunford, and meeting with President Ashraf Ghani.
The meeting was intended primarily to discuss the possibility of advancing a peace process with the Taliban. Mattis says reconciliation is now a “real possibility.” Gen. Dunford had just visited Pakistan, and is likely also bringing news of how that went to Ghani.
The unspoken story here is the increasingly untenable security situation in Afghanistan, with the Taliban gaining a growing amount of territory, and ISIS carrying out attacks in the capital city with virtual impunity.
With the parliament election a month away, the Ghani government is eager to make a show of at least relative security, which official US visits are great for. 17 years of US occupation in Afghanistan has often involved providing the illusion of security, despite how little credibility that has.