As former Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai prepared to leave power in his final year, he made a series of decisions to restrain International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) from participating in combat operations in Afghanistan. Further, he repeatedly tightened the constraints on United States Special Operations Forces (SOF). Due to a series of incidents in which an experienced and well-entrenched insurgent information-operations network crafted narratives and successfully pressured political powers into repeatedly taking public positions against U.S. combat power, ISAF capacity to wage effective campaigns to erode and degrade the rising tide of resurgent Taliban and Haqqani Network attacks was effectively mitigated. This has had a significant and deleterious effect upon the efforts of both ISAF and Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) to rollback insurgent gains in key areas of Afghanistan.
Almost immediately after taking office in September, Afghanistan’s new president, Ashraf Ghani, has diverged noticeably from his predecessor. Through several policy changes and a tangible shift in foreign policy, Ghani has signaled that he is charting a path that coincides with many of the strategic objectives of both the Western-dominated ISAF alliance and his own government. A few of the more important changes have elicited praise from both the Afghan public and allied force officials.
In November, Ghani reached out to Pakistan’s leadership, traveling to Islamabad after visiting two of Pakistan’s allies, China and Saudi Arabia:
Arriving at the military headquarters in Rawalpindi on Friday, Ghani was greeted by an army honor guard and received a security briefing, officials said. In the meeting, Ghani praised “Pakistan’s efforts to fight terrorism” and pledged to boost security cooperation, including training and border policing, according to a Pakistani military press release.