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Why is America Failing in Afghanistan?

- DR. Abdul-Qayum Mohmand

Analysis of “CIA World Factbook” (1981-2012): Dimensions of anti-Pashtun Conspirac

Afghan Fury at Planned Pakistan Pact
What Happens When the U.S. Leaves Afghanistan?
Trying to leave Afghanistan proves to be as troublesome as being there: A Closer Look
Afghanistan: “It’s Just Damage Limitation Now”
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Losing the War in Afghanistan
Obama’s troop increase for Afghan war was misdirected
Afghan security vacuum feared along "gateway to Kabul"
Objections to U.S. Troops Intensify in Afghanistan
The Great Afghan corruption scam
War zone killing: Vets feel 'alone' in their guilt
Was Osama for Real? And Was He Killed in 2001?
Afghanistan withdrawal: The risks of retreat
The Real Reason the US Invaded Afghanistan
The Definition of a Quagmire
Huge Uncertainty' in Afghanistan
Controversial ID Cards Expose Ethnic Divisions In Afghanistan
Afghanistan: The Final Curtain Call for NATO?
Afghanistan After 9/11: A Mission Unaccomplished
Why Should Taliban and Other Insurgents Refrain from Negotiation With the US & NATO? By: Dr Mohammed Daud Miraki, MA, MA, Ph

Exclusive: Karzai family looks to extend boss rule in Afghanistan.

Intrigue in Karzai Family as an Afghan Era Closes
For Afghans, Two Outrages, Two Different Reactions
Double blow to west’s Afghan strategy
Does the Taliban need a diplomatic voice?
Afghanistan: Lessons in War and Peace-building for US
Afghan women opposed by former allies
Q+A - Haqqani: From White House guest to staunch U.S. enemy
Haqqanis: Growth of a militant network -BBC
Afghanistan shelves plans for ambassador accused of fraud
Afghan nominated as ambassador to Britain was accused in US of fraud
U.S. deal with Taliban breaks down
The Loneliness of the Afghan President: Karzai on His Own

NATO's Third Alternative in Afghanistan

On the Road: Interview with Commander Abdul Haq:- The Tragedy of Abdul Haq
When the Lion Roared: How Abdul Haq Almost Saved Afghanistan
AFGHAN WARRIOR: THE LIFE & DEATH OF ABDUL HAQ
Pakistan’s ISI: Undermining Afghan self-determination since 1948
Mineral Wealth of Afghanistan, Military Occupation, Corruption and the Rights of the Afghan People
M. Siddieq Noorzoy
Why Isn’t the UN Investigating and Prosecuting the U.S. and NATO for War Crimes Committed in Afghanistan?
Corruption and Warlordism:
Abdul Basir Stanikzai
In Afghanistan, U.S. contracts aren’t crystal balls, but they come close
The great Afghan carve-up
Anatomy of an Afghan war tragedy
Terry Jones Actually Burns a Qur’an and No One Notices
Q+A-Are Afghan forces ready to take over security?
Guantánamo Bay files rewrite the story of Osama bin Laden's Tora Bora escape
Winning Afghan hearts, minds with explosives
Afghanistan’s Mercenaries
KABUL’S HORIZONS
Who is winning Afghanistan war? U.S. officials increasingly disagree
Afghanistan: The Trouble With The Transition
From the Archives: In Quest of a ‘Greater Tajikistan’
The 1980s mujahideen, the Taliban and the shifting idea of jihad
Afghanistan's Karzai complains about interference
Karzai, US ambassador at odds over private security

Karzai Tells Washington Post U.S. Should Reduce Afghan Operation Intensity

Excerpts from Afghan President Hamid Karzai's interview with The Washington Post
What the Afghans Want
New US approach to Afghanistan insurgency: Vindication for Pakistan?
Putting Some Fight Into Our Friends
Afghans 'abused at secret prison
Why We Won’t Leave Afghanistan or Iraq
Indo-Pakistan proxy war heats up in Afghanistan
Canada’s elite commandos and the invasion of Afghanistan
U.S. retreat from Afghan valley marks recognition of blunder
Five myths about the war in Afghanistan
Marine who resigned over ‘conscience’ speaks at MU
The Afghan media may have grown since Taliban rule ended, but not so press freedoms
Mystery holes and angry ants: another Afghan day
Kabul Bank's Sherkhan Farnood feeds crony capitalism in Afghanistan
Marjah War
Operation Moshtarak: Which way the war in Afghanistan?
Q&A: Why Marjah, why now?
In Jalalabad, hope is fading
Seeking reconciliation, US units meet remote Afghanistan tribes
Once Again, Get the Hell Out! "Ending the War in Afghanistan"
Blackwater Kept a Prostitute on the Payroll in Afghanistan; Fraudulently Billed American Tax Payers
Wild West Motif Lightens US Mood at Afghan Bas
In southern Afghanistan, even the small gains get noticed
 Afghanistan war: US tries to undercut Taliban at tribal level
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Are actions of 'super-tribe' an Afghan tipping point
Taliban: Terrorist or not? Not always easy to say
Q&A: Who else could help in Afghanistan?
Vietnam Replay on Afghan 'Defectors'
Washington's Refusal to Talk about Drone Strikes in Pakistan Meets Growing Opposition
Afghanistan summit: Why is the US backing talks with the Taliban?
Taliban's leadership council runs Afghan war from Pakistan
Why buy the Taliban?
2 Afghanistan conferences: No solutions
An Alternative to Endless War - Negotiating an Afghan Agreement?
Do the Taliban represent the Pashtuns?
Afghanistan asks ex-presidential contender to tackle corruption

Tehran Sets Conditions For Attending London Conference On Afghanista

Pakistan says reaches out to Afghan Taliban
Taking It to the Taliban
The Afghan Taliban's top leaders
How significant is Mullah Baradar's arrest?
Secret Joint Raid Captures Taliban’s Top Commander
What's the Quetta Shura Taliban and why does it matter?
What's behind latest Taliban attack on Kabul? See Images of the Attack By WSJ

Pakistan Version of Islam and Taliban ?????
Lahore fashion week takes on Talibanization in Pakistan

Loyalties of Those Killed in Afghan Raid Remain Unclear

After Attack, Afghans Question Motives or See Conspiracies
Gates: Taliban part of Afghan ‘political fabric’

IG: Afghan power-plant project ill-conceived, mismanaged

Taliban intensifies Afghan PR campaign

Taliban Overhaul Their Image in Bid to Win Allies
Karzai plans to woo Taliban with 'land, work and pensions'
Peace scheme mooted for Taliban
Bombs and baksheesh
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Karzai Closing in on Taliban Reconciliation Plan
Last Exit Kabul
How To Get Out Without Forsaking Afghanistan's Stability
Afghan Recovery Report: Taleban Buying Guns From Former Warlords

'Jesus Guns': Two More Countries Rethink Using Weapons with Secret Bible References

Gun bible quotes 'inappropriate'
Text of Joint declaration of Afghanistan-Iran-Pakistan trilateral meeting
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Rugged North Waziristan harbors US enemies
The Arrogance of Empire, Detailed ( The Untold Story of Afghanistan )
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Rebuilding Afghanistan: Will government take hold in this post-Taliban town?
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Blackwater, now called Xe, in running for work in Afghanistan despite legal woes
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U.N. Officials Say American Offered Plan to Replace Karzai 
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U.S. faults Afghan corruption body's independence
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Drone aircraft in a stepped-up war in Afghanistan and Pakistan
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The New York Times


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Articles

CIA: Buying peace in Afghanistan?

With Bags of Cash, C.I.A. Seeks Influence in Afghanistan
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Afghanistan’s Peace Talks Hit Brick Wall
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Earn our trust or go, Afghans tell GIs
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We've lost sight of our goal in Afghanistan

The strategy is sound – but success is not assured
Stakes High in Afghanistan Ahead of August Elections
$2,000 for a dead Afghan Child, $100,000 for Any American Who Died Killing it
Ex-detainees allege Bagram abuse
Petraeus Is a Failure -- Why Do We Pretend He's Been a Success?
Fierce Battles and High Casualties on the Frontlines of Afghanistan
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Outside View: Four revolutions
Pakistan's Plans for New Fight Stir Concern
France: liberty, equality, and fraternity – but no burqas
 

 

 

 

 

Echoes of Vietnam

Even the Coalition commanders in Afghanistan wonder if they can win the war
Will history repeat itself in Afghanistan?

British military intervention in Afghanistan has a chequered history, making it easy to conclude that British forces will fail again


 


Operation Moshtarak: Which way the war in Afghanistan?  
Source: Deutsche Welle By: Chris Kline  

A week into the joint allied offensive in Helmand province, NATO commanders have been vocal in cautioning that the true success of the mission cannot be fully gauged for months to come and indeed possibly beyond that.

Thus far the allied advance has suffered negligible losses. Although there have been vast numbers of improvised explosive devices left by Taliban bomb makers keeping military engineers busy defusing them, on the face of things the allied drive is going as well as could be expected.

Yet the Taliban guerrilla formations in what has long been their stronghold and scene of the fiercest fighting in the entire campaign, have not really shown themselves or offered much of a fight, despite defiant posturing ahead of the mission kicking off. It would seem that in classic guerrilla fashion, the Taliban faced with overwhelming allied firepower and numbers, refused to grant NATO and the Afghan National Army a conventional battle they would surely lose and simply retreated and melted away either over the border into Pakistan or in the midst of the local population.

In 2006 during the Canadian-led Operation Medusa, the lone but aggressive and skilled Canadian combat brigade was able to lure the Taliban into a conventional showdown and made the black turbans pay heavily, killing some 1,000 of their fighters. It is not an error the Taliban wish to repeat again.

After years of military impasse nonetheless the relative ease with which NATO has swept into Helmand and all but secured the town of Marjah, a key objective of the mission, a well-defended Taliban base area and focal point of its opium/heroin production which finances its war effort, is a clear psychological and tactical boost to both NATO and the ANA.

Some errant NATO artillery rockets have caused some civilian fatalities, which as ever deeply damages hearts and minds efforts, but given the scale of the operation and a new attentiveness to try and diminish civilian losses, even in this regard NATO seems to be doing better.

Winning - both militarily and politically

A captured Taliban militantBildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Some senior Taliban figures have been capturedWinning over public opinion in Helmand is as much the objective as any military goal and that the operation was publicized with such fanfare so far in advance, allowing many civilians to leave in safety is also a hallmark of Operation Moshtarak, which not incidentally means "together" in Dari. That togetherness has also witnessed the ANA taking part in operations alongside its western counterparts as never before, with the clear intention of demonstrating in a deeply tribal and clan conscious region always wary of outsiders, that Afghans are taking care of their own.

Professor Fawaz Dergez, a scholar in Middle East politics and International Relations at the London School of Economics, argues it's misleading of the international media to "have expected great battles and lots of casualties, when the body count is not the point."

Dergez says NATO deliberately sacrificed the element of surprise ahead of launching its assault to send an entirely different message beyond a mere show of military might to the civilian population, to build confidence and therefore to wrest support away from the Taliban by limiting violence.

"They wanted to tell the public our intention is not to kill, but that were here to stay, you can rely us on to provide security but not to destroy or to create havoc and for those Taliban that want to peacefully disappear or integrate so be it," he told Deutsche Welle.

Dergez sees the operation as vindicating US President Barak Obama's desire to rationalize the allied effort in Afghanistan, as the US begins to extricate itself militarily from Iraq, shifting focus and resources to the Hindu Kush. As the Washington-led 38,000-strong Afghan troop surge gets underway at last the war effort against the Taliban which the US and the European powers allowed to languish on the cheap for so long, is being properly resourced.

The capture this week of top Taliban military mastermind Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar by Pakistani and US security agents is more good news for the war effort and a positive sign that Islamabad is escalating its own pressure against the Taliban in its midst. It too is fighting a ferocious military campaign against insurgency and Islamic radicalism in the tribal territories, where Al Qaida's leadership reputedly still finds sanctuary.

It remains to be seen whether Mullah Baradar's capture becomes a pawn in expected back-door negotiations with the Taliban, but Dergez says a shift in the manner in which the war is being fought is tangible and Moshtarak is the key to understanding.

"We should not lose sight of the overarching goal, that is the first shot of a new political strategy, to change the process, to change the very configuration of Afghanistan," he said.

But surely all the Taliban fighters that did not come out to fight when it would have been suicidal, have other intentions? Western intelligence agencies have been monitoring the growth of both Taliban and Hezb i Islami guerrilla forces in the hitherto relatively peaceful north of the country, where the bulk of German ISAF troops are deployed.

The insurgents and their resurgence

US soldiersBildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: The Taliban may be on the run in Helmand but will no doubt regroup elsewhereIf there is so much mounting pressure building in southern Afghanistan why will not insurgent commanders create a new flashpoint in the north or indeed the west or launch a new series of spectacular series of kamikaze attacks in Kabul itself again? The relatively quiet war the German soldiers have known may not last forever and the rule of thumb of all guerrilla warfare is to expect the unexpected, anytime, anywhere.

But if NATO and the ANA are punching through empty space in Helmand, in the sense that the enemy has withdrawn, for how long has he withdrawn? And in order to consolidate its control over what can be termed newly liberated portions of Helmand, even with the scale of the troop surge and the projected rapid growth of the ANA over the next year, are there enough soldiers to garrison Helmand indefinitely?

The force within

If NATO can ever begin to draw down its mission, over time the bulk of the soldiers and security forces in Helmand, as in throughout Afghanistan, must come from the ANA and the Afghan National Police, which remains a lackluster force, corrupt, poorly trained and equipped and in Helmand at least, riddled by Taliban infiltrators.

A man surrenderingBildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Winning the war is one thing but winning over hearts and minds is even more crucialIn Helmand the ANA still cannot operate on its own. David Livingstone, a fellow in counter-Terrorism and military operations at the London think tank Chatam House, told Deutsche Welle that "NATO does not lack (due) cognizance of the ANA's current capabilities. They would surely fail on their own and their confidence would be adversely affected. But there has to be an ultimate aim that that we learn through the process, that we improve the methods of joint cooperation and we have to begin somewhere. The Afghan army has to be grown systematically you can't turn today's private into tomorrow's major general."

And anchoring the whole concept of security in Helmand is the notion that "life building under a form of democracy, however imperfect is better than life under the Taliban," he added.

In this regard there is little NATO's soldiers or the ANA can do to build confidence and trust, when so much of the Afghan government at the national and regional level remains rife with corruption and is often so inept in its provision of good governance and service.

Andrew Dorman, senior lecturer in defence studies at King's College, says for the Taliban to lose control of its opium crop and processing facilities in Helmand "when it is a principal source of income is a strategic loss and for the Taliban not to stand and fight is a further blow to their credibility."

Underestimate the Taliban at your peril

But Dorman also warns that the new offensive is not the be all and end all. Even with the Taliban's arguably top field commander and strategist now a POW, there will be another to replace him. And with all the publicity surrounding the new offensive he told Deutsche Welle that "the ANA has to show itself a success and that it can take control of its own country, the psychological symbolism for NATO is also vast, they've talked it up, they need to win it, because their biggest liability is to lose the support they need at home."

So it would seem the battle for public opinion in the struggle for Afghanistan counts just as much in American and European living rooms as it does in the rude adobe huts of Helmand.

And if Western public opinion is tired of war and its expense both in treasure and the lives of its soldiers, Livingston reminds starkly just what remains at stake in what Obama now calls the Af-Pak war and what public opinion should not forget poses such a clear danger to global security. "An ungoverned and insecure space next to a fragile state that possesses nuclear weapons, itself the engine room of insurgency which already has harsh intentions."

With this in mind NATO's generals are now hoping both the olive branch and overwhelming strength in Helmand can show the way forward to achieving something like success, not outright victory but some form of effective containment, that will ultimately allow western soldiers to go home and for Afghans to carry the weight of their security on their own shoulders in time.

 

 

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