The watchdog agency in charge of monitoring the progress of operations in Afghanistan does not have access to key data. In a report issued late last month, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) stated that NATO Resolute Support (RS) has “restricted public release of the number of enemy-initiated attacks that took place this first quarter” for the first time since the agency began using it two years ago. The data has provided SIGAR with a method to track the levels of violence inflicted by Taliban fighters, as well as where such attacks took place.
“This … data was one of the last remaining metrics SIGAR was able to use to report publicly on the security situation in Afghanistan since RS discontinued its previous system of assessing district control in 2018,” John F. Sopko, the agency’s chief, stated.
NATO RS justified the decision to restrict the information because it has come into play during negotiations between the U.S. and the Taliban, Sopko stated. The possibility that NATO RS may release the data again someday exists, he stated, “once the deliberative process ends.”
The report noted that even though the U.S. and Taliban signed a peace agreement in February, there was a spike in Taliban violence. The agreement called for a withdrawal of U.S. and coalition forces within 14 months, in exchange for a Taliban promise to bar enemies from using Afghan soil to threaten the security of the U.S. and its allies. It also called for beginning a negotiation process between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
The report also noted that like every other corner of the globe, Afghanistan has been “hit hard” by the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic.
“Although the number of reported Afghan cases is still low, experts are predicting a significant health risk in the coming months – a crisis likely to be exacerbated by rising food prices,” the report stated.