One year after the fall and the subsequent recapture of Kunduz, the northern Afghan city is still in turmoil. A dwindling NATO mission will not be able defeat the insurgency, writes DW's Florian Weigand.
Exactly one year ago, the Taliban captured the city of Kunduz in a surprise attack. The assault brought the former bastion of the German military back into the headlines.
In Germany, people reacted to the fall of Kunduz with frustration. "What's happening there?" and "We saw this coming!" were the usual remarks. It was a reminder - a bitter one, of course - of how futile the sacrifices of the German soldiers turned out to be in the war-torn country.
Today, one year after the fall and the subsequent recapture of Kunduz, the fighting continues to rage for control of the city, and, yet, few people outside Afghanistan seem to care about it.
The Taliban have surrounded the main city and exchange gunfire with security forces. Many villages around Kunduz that had fallen to the insurgents have been recaptured by Afghan troops.
But the case of Kunduz shows that the comfortable separation between the "good West" and the "bad Taliban" is not going to work. Kunduz, which carries a symbolic importance for the West, was recaptured last year with US support. In the process of driving the Taliban out of the city, US planes bombed a hospital belonging to Doctors Without Borders, killing many people.
Now, government officials in Kunduz have been totally isolated. Their authority ends at the city's limits. Outside Kunduz, there is a Taliban country - as is the case in other regions of the country.
One year after the Kunduz assault, the West has to answer a pressing question: Should the Afghan mission go on? If the answer is "yes," then the West needs to invest in Afghanistan - both in civilian and military infrastructure. Afghanistan needs "resolute support," which, coincidentally, is the name of the ongoing German training mission for Afghan soldiers. But the country needs a lot more than just a few military advisors.
Only the United States is willing to keep 8,400 troops in Afghanistan next year. But to carry out a successful counterinsurgency, this number won't be enough.
The West's pretentious policy in Afghanistan must end. The alternative is to end the Afghanistan mission and admit that we have failed in the country.
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