KABUL, AFGHANISTAN — The conflict in Afghanistan has entered a dangerous phase, and the next three to six months could prove crucial in determining whether the United States and its NATO partners can suppress a revitalized enemy — or will be dragged into another drawn-out and costly fight with an Islamic insurgency, according to senior military and security officials and diplomats.
"I think we are approaching a tipping point, perhaps early in the new year," said a Western diplomat in the region, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the situation publicly.
I think we'll be dragged into another costly fight with an Islamic insurgency. Where's the effort needed to prevent that outcome? The US is tapping out its Army just trying to deal with the deteriorating situation in Iraq. Well, Iraq is going to get worse still. I do not expect Afghanistan to get the attention it warrants until the tipping over has already happened.
The Taliban are running a parallel government in some provinces.
"Their support network has improved, and in some areas they've been able to operate and control roads and villages and the like," said Seth Jones, a counterinsurgency expert at the Rand Corp. who was recently in Afghanistan for field research. "The Taliban have created a shadow government in a number of provinces — people going to Taliban governors rather than centrally appointed governors on rule-of-law issues."
Attacks have increased 4 fold since 2005. The Taliban may have lost as many as 7,000 fighters as compared to 180 for NATO and allies. But Americans are becoming less popular in Afghanistan just as happened in Iraq.
In much of the country, the lack of security has severely stunted development projects, which in turn has fostered widespread disillusionment. Particularly in dirt-poor rural areas, many Afghans believe their daily lot has improved little since Taliban times, and tend to cast the blame on the same Americans they once hailed as liberators.
The Bush Administration invasion of Iraq has been a distraction from the countries that really matter in the battle against Islamic terrorism. Afghanistan was where Al Qaeda trained to launch their terrorist attacks in the United States. Pakistan was the backer of the Taliban and some top Pakistani intelligence officials were on friendly terms with Al Qaeda. Oh, and Pakistan has nuclear bombs. Plus, the 9/11 attackers were mostly from Saudi Arabia.
In spite of all this Bush invaded Iraq. The neocons were thrilled that the Iraq invasion would make the Middle East safer for Israel. But they were wrong about that. Bush thought he was going to fight an easy war that would boost his domestic popularity. He was wrong about that. Now he doesn't want to admit the scale of his mistake. So he won't pull out American troops from Iraq. Well, some of those troops are needed in Afghanistan.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2006 December 10 08:33 PM MidEast Afghanistan|