Sunday, 15 April 2012

What About the Future of Afghanistan

Coordinated Attacks in Kabul and Across Eastern Afghanistan

On the heels of a G8 leaders conference, just a few days ago, the Taliban have claimed responsibility for at least five coordinated attacks in Kabul.  According to the Taliban the attack targeted NATO headquarters, the British and German Embassies, the Afghan parliament building, the Serena and Kabul Star hotels, and sites along Darulaman road, where the Russian Embassy is located.  Insurgents also targeted Afghan and NATO installations in the capital cities of Nangarhar, Logar and Paktia provinces.

"In all these attacks, tens of mujahedeen fighters equipped with light and heavy weapons, suicide vests, RPGs, rockets, heavy machine-guns and hand grenades are attacking their targets," Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman,  said in the email.

"Our initial reports indicate that a large number of foreign forces, Afghan police and army are killed and wounded."

Taliban casualty rates are often exaggerated and ISAF has confirmed to reporters that no NATO forces were killed.  

NATO's Plans for the Way Ahead in Afghanistan

While the number of NATO casualties this year so far have been significantly reduced, reaching a high of 711 in 2010 and 566 last year, there are still too many killed, with no apparent progress.  NATO insists that the transition is going well and that Afghan Security Forces are taking over the responsibility for their country's security.  Apparently security for Afghan government buildings in Kabul is being handled by Afghan Security forces.  

NATO's intend is to complete the transition to Afghan Security forces by the end of 2014, with a yet determined number of NATO forces remaining in Afghanistan.  The details are expected to be worked out in a NATO Afghanistan conference next month.  

G8 leaders were at a  meeting, chaired by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to pledge their continued engagement in Afghanistan, for at least the next decade.  

"With the gradual transition to hand responsibility for Afghan security to the Karzai government, leaders of the G8 have reaffirmed their commitment for the long ranging engagement in Afghanistan.  The leaders reaffirmed their strong commitment to Afghanistan’s sovereignty and national unity.  They urged Afghan President Hamid Karzai to combat corruption and work on improving governance.

While NATO intends to handover security responsibilities to the war torn nation by 2014, the country obviously has several problems to overcome.  Afghan Security Forces need to be paid, just as infrastructure requires funding.  There will likely be some US/NATO troops left in Afghanistan, the scope and size, which is yet to be determined.  This will also require a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA)."
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The White House and  NATO, including General John Allen, ISAF Commander, continue on the message that progress is being made.  While the training numbers of Afghan forces may be met, the question still remains on how reliable these troops will be.  

Since the Qoran burnings and the massacre of 17 civilians by a US serviceman, the Taliban have cranked up their attacks.  There have been the so called "Green on Blue" attacks, where members of the Taliban have infiltrated Afghan Security Forces and killed NATO soldier, including two in the Interior Ministry.

Attempts to negotiate with the Taliban have not yielded any results.  How likely is it that the Afghan government will be able to secure the country?  It seems like a high order, since the Taliban want nothing less than rule Afghanistan.  Will the country revert to Taliban rule after NATO leaves?  This is difficult to answer, however in a tribal society, loyalty to Hamid Karzai has to be pretty thin.

Afghanistan doesn't have the title of "Graveyard of Empires" without reason. 


  1. Hey Cowpoke,

    All the more reason to stay the course and ensure sufficient international whole of government assistance is provided to Afghanistan. Our strategic exit strategy must be based on achieving success and not related to a specific date.

  2. I agree, after ten years of sacrifice by NATO troops, there has to be a tangible result. Too many have died, both military and civilian to let it revert back to how it was. The question is what is the best approach? As you are aware there is a thin line when it comes to good governance.

    I have been of the opinion that governance should have been build from the bottom up, rather than imposing a President. Hindsight is 20/20 though.