Why did the US drop Mother of all bombs 14 years after testing?

While ‘trigger-happy Trump’ gloats, the world wonders at the use of ‘Mom of all bombs’ to allegedly kill 36 IS fighters in Afghanistan. Is it a distraction or signal of intent?

Photo courtesy: Twitter.com/POTUS
Photo courtesy: Twitter.com/POTUS

NH Web Desk

American President Donald Trump praised the military, calling the strike a “very, very successful mission…"We are so proud of our military. It was another successful event, Trump was quoted as saying by Fox News.”

"We have given them total authorization. ... Frankly, that's why they've been so successful lately. If you look at what's happened over the last eight weeks and compare that to what's happened over the last eight years, you'll see there's a tremendous difference."

Why did the US bomb Afghanistan now?

The US military says that the objective of the bombing was to make headway in the fight against ISIS in the region. A policer spokesperson in Nangahar province, Hazrat Hussain Mashriqiwal, was quoted as saying in The Washington Post that “international and security forces had for days been involved in operations against ISIS in the region.”

However, observers across the world also questioned the timing of the strike, saying that the recent moves by Trump in Syria and Afghanistan could be a “distraction” from progress being made in a domestic investigation around the Trump campaign’s links to Russia.

Another theory being proposed is that Trump is sending a message to America’s rivals in North Korea, Syria and Iran through the strike, which comes a week after American warships carried out surgical strikes on an airbase controlled by President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

What’s the reaction of Afghanistan’s government?

Both the US and the government of President Ashraf Ghani say that the Afghan government was “kept in the loop” and a family living in the vicinity was evacuated before the bombing.

A spokesperson at Afghanistan’s Presidential Palace, ARG, was quoted as saying that the “strikes took place in close coordination between the Afganistan forces and foreign troops based in the country.”

However, former president Hamid Karzai condemned the strike and urged his countrymen to “stop the USA.”

What’s unique about the Mother of All Bombs (MOAB)?

The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Airblast (MOAB), also known as the “mother of all bombs,” is a 21,000-pound weapon dropped from the rear of an MC-130 Hercules aircraft.

MOAB is a ‘concussive bomb’, which means that it detonates in the air rather than once it hits the ground.

Those within 300 metres of the explosion will be vaporised, while people within a radius of a kilometre at the time of explosion are likely to go deaf. According to a report on Al Jazeera, nearly 11 tonnes of TNT go into making MOAB.

The New York Times quoted a local Afghan governor, located more than 20 kilometres from the blast site, as saying that he felt the blast when it happened.

“From check posts in Achin some guys called me, and they were asking, ‘What was that?’ It was very big—for a moment, big flames were rising from the mountain, the whole area was bright,” Haji Ghalib, governor of Bati Kot was quoted as saying in the NYT.

What’s the current status of the Afghanistan War?

The US-led coalition troops entered Afghanistan in 2001 after the 9/11 terror attack on the twin towers in New York. Almost 15 years and two US presidents later, the US still finds itself embroiled in Afghanistan as part of its ‘War on Terror’.

However, Islamic State, which was originally active primarily in Iraq and Syria, came to Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2014 and declared a separate unit, ISIS-Khorasan, to carry out its activities in the region.

The emergence of ISIS and a readily available pool of Islamist fighters are believed to have delayed America’s plans to withdraw from the country.

As per the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) signed between Kabul and Washington in 2014, 10,000 troops would remain in the country between 2015 and 2024 to help train local Afghan forces.

What has been the reaction of local Afghans?

While the Afghanistan government has backed the American strike, reactions on social media indicate war-weariness on part of the local population and the Afghan diaspora due to years of war.

Shuja Rabbani, a political blogger hailing from Afghanistan, remarked that Thursday’s bombing was the closest his country would get to “Hiroshima.”

Matin Shaifai, an Afghan national, echoed claims that the strike was intended to send a message across to North Korea.

“Not only is Afghanistan a battle zone for terrorism but it is now also a testing ground for bombs,” Shaifai said

Compiled by Dhairya Maheshwari.

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