View Full Version : Afghanistan - Decision Point 2008

02-06-2008, 04:48 PM
The Senlis Council, 6 Feb 08: Afghanistan - Decision Point 2008 (http://www.senliscouncil.net/documents/Decision_Point)

2008 is a pivotal year in the development of the Afghan state: the situation has reached a classic decision point. The Taliban are entrenched in the South, running parallel governments in several districts and controlling the majority of secondary roads. The extent of the challenges facing the country was brought into sharp focus by the bombing of the Serena Hotel in Kabul on 14 January. Should this event prove part of a consolidated drive by militants to engage in asymmetric attacks upon high profile, ‘soft’ Western civilian targets in the capital, then the insurgency will have entered a new and dangerous phase.

The inability of domestic and international actors to counter the entrenchment of the insurgency in Afghanistan is deeply troubling, and the failure of NATO’s political masters to address the realities of the security situation in Afghanistan has taken the country and the Karzai government to a precipice.

The international community has invested significant time and money in President Karzai and his government. Unfortunately, these efforts may prove fruitless if they do not move quickly to stabilise the south and Karzai’s political support base. Assistance is clearly needed on a number of security, developmental and counter-narcotics measures required to steer the country back on course......
Complete 118 page report at the link.

02-06-2008, 11:32 PM
ICG, 6 Feb 08: Afghanistan: The Need For International Resolve (http://www.crisisgroup.org/library/documents/asia/south_asia/145_afghanistan___the_need_for_international_resol ve.pdf)

Afghanistan is not lost but the signs are not good. Its growing insurgency reflects a collective failure to tackle the root causes of violence. Six years after the Taliban’s ouster, the international community lacks a common diagnosis of what is needed to stabilise the country as well as a common set of objectives. Long-term improvement of institutions is vital for both state building and counterinsurgency, but without a more strategic approach, the increased attention and resources now directed at quelling the conflict could even prove counterproductive by furthering a tendency to seek quick fixes. Growing tensions over burden sharing risk undermining the very foundations of multilateralism, including NATO’s future. The U.S., which is demanding more commitment by allies, must realise that its unilateral actions weaken the will of others. At the same time, those sniping from the sidelines need to recognise that the Afghan intervention is ultimately about global security and do more.....
Complete 30 page report at the link.

05-26-2008, 06:10 PM
A long review on "learning the Great Game" in (UK) The Economist: http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=11402695

Easy to read and identify whose spin has worked the best.


05-31-2008, 03:10 PM
From Der Spiegel (http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,556304,00.html)

Since the fall of the Taliban regime almost seven years ago, the country's opium harvest has been more abundant in almost each successive year. Last year, 93 percent of the heroin traded in the world came from Afghanistan. In 2007, opium poppies were grown on 193,000 hectares (476,900 acres), a 17-percent increase over the previous year. Meanwhile, ISAF looks on without taking any action. But its inaction is a precautionary measure.

For fear of triggering hostility against foreign troops among the local population, the powers that be agreed early on that the Afghans would have sole responsibility for waging the drug war, with no NATO involvement whatsoever. To demonstrate their supposed commitment, the police and Afghan army occasionally stage symbolic drug burnings, and sometimes they even wade into the fields to decapitate a few plants. The operation, dubbed "eradication," is one of the most dangerous in this war.

"We assume that 500,000 families have their fingers in the pie," says General Mohammed Daoud, once a young commander under the legendary mujahedeen leader Ahmed Shah Massoud. Today Daoud is the deputy interior minister in charge of running Kabul's anti-drug operation. "And if you consider that an Afghan family has at least six members," says Daoud, "you have 3 million people in our country whose livelihood depends on opium production." This contingent, one-tenth of the country's total population of 30 million, is much larger than any army in Afghanistan.

07-07-2008, 01:20 PM
CSIS, 3 Jul 08: The Afghan-Pakistan War: A Status Report (http://www.csis.org/media/csis/pubs/080703_afghan_status.pdf)

This report pulls together, updates and builds upon two earlier briefs from CSIS.

....The present draft is a rough cut at developing a comprehensive briefing on the current status of the war. It pulls together a wide range of material from US commands, NATO/ISAF, UNAMA, the US and other NATO/ISAF governments, and private organizations like Senlis (http://www.senliscouncil.net/). It is at best, however, a start.

There are many critical limits in the material available. For example, Senlis -- which sometimes tends to exaggerate the Taliban and Al Qa'ida challenge as part of its effort to increase aid and NATO/ISAF troop strength -- provides most of the available maps that give some idea of the progress in the fighting and the relative balance of Afghan Central government, Pakistani central government, NATO/ISAF, Taliban, and Al Qa'ida presence and influence.

The end result is necessarily long and complex. The full brief runs over 200 pages. Even so, it has to rely heavily on maps, graphs, and tables to provide an overview of the unclassified reporting that is available at the cost of depth in any given area....

07-07-2008, 01:43 PM
I think we were told for both Afghanistan and Iraq that "the next three months", "the next six months" or "this year" will be decisive in case of both Iraq and Afghanistan wars repeatedly.

Considering the possibility of ever new opponent groups in both theaters, it looks to me as if the only really decisive thing to expect would be a withdrawal.

Btw, I heard about non-Taleban insurgents becoming relevant in Eastern Afghanistan. Who is that?

07-07-2008, 03:08 PM
Btw, I heard about non-Taleban insurgents becoming relevant in Eastern Afghanistan. Who is that?

A variety of groups, some of whom come under the general umbrella of the "Taliban" and others who are more along the lines of local tribal militias. From what I can see from my limited vantage point, a large part of it is Pashtun internal fighting.

Rank amateur
07-07-2008, 03:42 PM
We're nation building, so we're potential enemies with everyone who has beef with Karzai.

The Washington Post had a pretty article:

"Al-Qaeda is not a topic of conversation here," says Col. Mark Johnstone, the deputy commander of Task Force Bayonet, (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/05/02/AR2008050203444.html)

I think we were told for both Afghanistan and Iraq that "the next three months", "the next six months" or "this year" will be decisive in case of both Iraq and Afghanistan wars repeatedly.

Considering the possibility of ever new opponent groups in both theaters, it looks to me as if the only really decisive thing to expect would be a withdrawal.

To an extent, I agree. It's never too late to establish population control. (Israel waited 50 years before building the majority of their fences around Palestinian populations. It seems to be working out the way they want.) I do think, however, the next president could have a huge impact in Afghanistan. We could see a lot more resources deployed there. We might even see a more successful way of dealing with Pakistan.

09-20-2008, 01:49 PM
CSIS, 19 Sep 08: Follow the Money: Why the US is Losing the War in Afghanistan (http://www.csis.org/media/csis/pubs/080919_afghanwarcosts.pdf)

Most of the literature on the cost of the Iraq War, Afghan War, and the war on terrorism focuses on the burden it places on the federal budget and the US economy. These are very real issues, but they also have deflected attention from another key issue: whether the war in Afghanistan is being properly funded and being given the resources necessary to win.

Figure 1 provides a rough picture of the steady growth in Taliban-HiG-Haqqani and Al Qa’ida threat activity and the consequent impact on US casualties. It reflects the fact that the situation has now deteriorated steadily for more than five years, an assessment the US intelligence community has agreed to in its latest analysis of the war. The NATO commander in Afghanistan, General David McKiernan has noted that violence was at least 30% higher in September 2008 than in September 2007, and was driven by three factors:

- The insurgents have adapted their tactics to smaller scale IEDS and ambush type attacks- more events.

- The US and NATO/ISAF have greater presence, and therefore greater contact with the insurgency.

- A deteriorating condition in these tribal areas of Pakistan. More drugs and insurgents are being sent over the border.

A new CSIS briefing - Losing The Afghan-Pakistan War? The Rising Threat (http://www.csis.org/media/csis/pubs/080917_afghanthreat.pdf) - tells this story in more depth, and how it is reflected in growing Afghan and allied casualties. UN and declassified US intelligence maps that show the steady expansion of threat influence and the regions that are unsafe for aid workers. Other data show how Afghan drug growing has steadily moved south and become a major source of financing for the Taliban and other insurgent movements.

Work by Seth G. Jones (http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/2008/RAND_MG595.pdf), a leading Rand analyst, has shown how insurgent groups like the Taliban, Haqqani Network, Gulbuddin Hakmayer’s Hezb-i-Islami (HIG); Al Qa’ida; and affiliated groups in Pakistan have formed three fronts in Northeastern, Southeastern, and Southern Afghanistan that are linked by what he calls ―a complex adaptive system‖ of loosely cooperating groups that act as a distributed and constantly adapting network.ii At the same time, the UN and other assessments summarized in the CSIS briefing show that the Taliban and other groups have steadily expanded there presence and influence in the country side, particularly in the many areas where NATO/ISAF and the Afghan government cannot provide either security or governance. These now include substantial areas in central Afghanistan, in and around the capital, and growing pockets in the north and west.....