Classified or nonexistent: Tracking Taliban control goes dark as focus shifts to getting out
The US military will stop publishing figures on the Afghan areas and citizens under control of the Taliban and other insurgent forces. Analysts believe this decision signifies a shift in US military strategy for the war in Afghanistan, from battling insurgency toward prioritizing the exit of US troops from the country.
The US army spokesman for Afghanistan justified the move by arguing that the metrics were “redundant and did little to serve our mission of protecting our citizens and allies.” However, the decision has been criticized as an attempt by the US government to hide unpleasant facts showing the failure of US and Afghan forces to keep large swathes of Afghanistan out of the hands of insurgent groups. Critics also claim that American taxpayers have a right to this information because they are paying for the war.
The timing of the decision is significant, since a new round of peace negotiations between the US government and the Taliban began on Wednesday in the Qatari capital Doha. The previous round of talks ended in March without a peace deal specifying a timeline for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.