February 29, 2008
The Guardian (UK)

Afghanistan Mission Close to Failing

by Declan Walsh and Richard Norton Taylor

After six years of US-led military support and billions of pounds in aid, security in Afghanistan is "deteriorating" and President Hamid Karzai's government controls less than a third of the country, America's top intelligence official has admitted.

Mike McConnell testified in Washington that Karzai controls about 30% of Afghanistan and the Taliban 10%, and the remainder is under tribal control.

The Afghan government angrily denied the US director of national intelligence's assessment yesterday, insisting it controlled "over 360" of the country's 365 districts. "This is far from the facts and we completely deny it," said the defence ministry.

But the gloomy comments echoed even more strongly worded recent reports by thinktanks, including one headed by the former Nato commander General James Jones, which concluded that "urgent changes" were required now to "prevent Afghanistan becoming a failed state".

Although Nato forces have killed thousands of insurgents, including several commanders, an unrelenting drip of violence has eroded Karzai's grip in the provinces, providing fuel to critics who deride him as "the mayor of Kabul". . . .

A big injection of foreign troops has failed to bring stability. The US has almost 50,000 soldiers in Afghanistan and - twice as many as in 2004 - while the UK has 7,700, mostly in Helmand. Another 2,200 US marines are due to arrive next month to combat an expected Taliban surge. . . .

An Oxfam report yesterday said international and national security forces, as well as warlords, criminals and the Taliban, were perceived by ordinary Afghans as posing security threats.


Declan Walsh, "US-led Troops Launch Largest Assault on Taliban Since 2001," Guardian, January 15, 2006

[The British Government calls the Taliban "terrorists" and "extremists", but people in Kandahar associate it with security. Before the 2001 invasion, they say, they could walk the streets safely as long as they complied with the movement's strict interpretation of Islamic law. Now even a simple outing to the local market is seen as a risk, and the Taliban, established as a response to lawlessness in the 1990s, is gaining fresh strength.--Chris Sands, "We want the Taliban back, say ordinary Afghans," Independent, April 8, 2007]

[Yet the evidence is that the US government wanted the Soviets to invade and did what it could to provoke it. According to Secretary of State Robert Gates 1997 book "From the Shadows" the CIA started giving aid to Islamic rebels in Afghanistan six months before the Soviets invaded. This was confirmed and detailed in an interview with Zbignew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter's National Security Advisor in 1998 in the French journal Le Nouvel Observateur. In the interview Brzezinski explained that Jimmy Carter signed an order on July 3 of 1979 to give aid to the mujahadeen and that he (Brzezinski) wrote Carter a note that same day saying "this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention". . . .

One could imagine another movie about Afghanistan, about real heroic resistance, about the women of the Revolutionary Association of Afghan Woman (RAWA). They've struggled against fundamentalism and all the regimes oppressing Afghanistan since 1977. In a recent comunique they wrote "Instead of defeating Al-Qaeda, Taliban and Gulbuddini terrorists and disarming the Northern Alliance, the foreign troops are creating confusion among the people of the world. We believe that if these troops leave Afghanistan, our people will not feel any kind of vacuum but rather will become more free and come out of their current puzzlement and doubts. In such a situation, they will face the Taliban and Northern Alliance without their national' mask, and rise to fight with these terrorist enemies. Neither the US nor any other power wants to release Afghan people from the fetters of the fundamentalists."--Stanley Heller, "Brzezinski and Charlie Wilson's War,", December 26, 2007]

Zia Sarhadi, "Western coalition unravelling under pressure from resistance in Afghanistan,", April 2008

[According to RAWA, an independent organization of Afghan women, prostitution has become widespread in conservative Afghanistan since the 2001 US ouster of Taliban.--"Sex for Bread in New Afghanistan,", May 19, 2008]

[Forty nations are embroiled in an unwinnable war in Afghanistan. Anyone who travels through the country with Western troops soon realizes that NATO forces would have to be increased tenfold for peace to be even a remote possibility.--Ullrich Fichtner, "Why NATO Troops Can't Deliver Peace in Afghanistan," Spiegel, May 29, 2008]

[What the U.S. really wants, says Tariq Ali, is "to construct an army able to suppress its own population but incapable of defending the nation from outside powers; a civil administration with no control over planning or social infrastructure, which is in the hands of Western NGOs; and a government whose foreign policy marches in step with Washington's."--Eric Ruder, "What the U.S. Wants in Afghanistan,", May 31, 2008]

"Western forces to blame for rising violence in Afghanistan: Karzai," CBC News, June 2, 2008

[Legal experts concerned that use of the weapons broke international law simply renamed them.--Michael Smith, "Britain admits to using 'brutal' vacuum bomb against Taliban," Australian, June 23, 2008]

Alison Smale, "Afghanistan Is in Its Worst Shape Since 2001, European Diplomat Says," New York Times, September 14, 2008

Charles Bremner and Michael Evans, "British envoy says mission in Afghanistan is doomed," Times, October 2, 2008

Gary Leupp, "Seven Years in Afghanistan: From 'War on Terror' to 'War of Terror',", October 7, 2008

Graeme Smith, "Reversal of fortune leaves Kabul under Taliban's thumb," Globe and Mail, October 14, 2008

[Senators John McCain and Barack Obama both want to send more American troops to Afghanistan. Both are wrong. History cries out to them, but they are not listening.--Stephen Kinzer, "The reality of war in Afghanistan," Boston Globe, October 15, 2008]

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