Afghanistan in danger of becoming a divided state: Taliban now controls vast swathes of unchallenged territory in Afghanistan
LONDON - The Senlis Council on Wednesday called
on NATO's troop force size to be doubled to 80,000 after its new security
assessment report based on field research during the last month revealed 54% of
Afghanistan's landmass now hosts a permanent Taliban presence.
security situation has reached crisis proportions. The insurgency now controls
vast swaths of unchallenged territory including rural areas, border areas, some
district centres, and important road arteries" said Norine MacDonald QC,
President and Lead Field Researcher of The Senlis Council.
disturbing conclusion is that, despite a universal desire to 'succeed' in
Afghanistan, Afghanistan is in grave danger of becoming a divided state. The
Taliban are the de facto governing authority in significant portions of
territory in the south. Exploiting public frustration over poverty and
inflammatory US-led counter narcotics policies, the Taliban are gaining
increasing political legitimacy in the minds of the Afghan people.
is a sad indictment of the current state of Afghanistan that the question now
appears not to be whether the Taliban will return to Kabul, but when this will
happen" said MacDonald. "Their stated aim of reaching the city in 2008 appears
more viable than ever, and it is incumbent upon the international community to
implement a dramatic change in strategy before time runs out. Defeat in
Afghanistan would be catastrophic to global security, and risks making NATO
'NATO Plus' initiative needed: double troop levels,
remove all caveats, move into Pakistan
Insufficient ground troops and restrictive
caveats imposed upon them by several European governments have made it almost
impossible for NATO-ISAF forces to contain the return of the Taliban.
Frequently, NATO-ISAF forces are forced to return to fight in areas previously
cleared of Taliban, who are benefiting from a seemingly endless supply of
To succeed in Afghanistan, NATO countries must
increase their presence in the country, but NATO partners should share this
burden equally. A 'NATO Plus' force of 80,000 troops is needed, with all NATO
countries contributing at least 2.3 soldiers per $1 billion of their GDP . This
would ensure the increase of troops to 71,000 - the remaining 9,000 troops
should be invited to come in from Muslim countries.
"Not only would the
creation of this 'NATO Plus' force improve the chances of defeating the Taliban,
it would also send out a strong political message to the Afghan people that a
caveat-free, pan-cultural, international community force is there in support of
the Karzai Government to ensure stability in Afghanistan," said Paul Burton, The
Senlis Council's Head of Policy Analysis in London.
taking the position that they will not send sufficient troops, or continue to
maintain their caveats that restrict troops fighting in the South is a luxury
that we can no longer afford if we do not want to lose Afghanistan - the
continuation of such policies is tantamount to an abandonment of the Karzai
government and the Afghan people", said MacDonald
Senlis also called on
NATO forces to urgently enter Pakistan's North West Frontier Province, which has
become a training ground for Taliban and Al-Qaeda elements. According to the
Senlis report, such an increase in their activities would never have been
possible without a sanctuary outside Afghanistan.
"The Taliban have
established firm roots across the border in Pakistan. President Musharraf has
been unable to deal with these bases, and as a result it is impossible to stop
the growth of the insurgency in Afghanistan," said MacDonald. "NATO troops in
Pakistan are therefore urgently required to quell this growing threat, and
ensure that this area is closed down as a home base for the Taliban and Al
Qaeda," she added.
'Combat aid agencies' required: aid and development
spending must match military spending
In the past six years, food and development
aid in southern Afghanistan has failed to meet the basic needs of the region's
thousands of victims of fighting, drought, poppy crop eradication and bombing
campaigns. For the Afghan state to stand a chance of recovering from its present
position, it is imperative that effective development efforts are central to the
The Council called for "Combat Aid agencies" to be
established, which would see the British and Canadian militaries in charge of
the delivery of aid to warzones in the south. These militaries should be handed
control of the warzone budgets of the countries' development agencies, DFID and
CIDA, while aid and development funding should match military funding.
"The delivery of food and development aid by the British and Canadian
militaries would be a huge boost to the hearts and minds campaign of both
governments in southern Afghanistan," said MacDonald. "This would be an
excellent counter-insurgency strategy - strengthening ties with the local
communities, which is the only viable way to defeat the insurgency in
Poppy for Medicine: next instalment of
pilot projects specifications released
The Senlis Council also released a Research Update
on its Poppy for Medicine initiative, which sets out the specifications
for a scientific pilot project in the next planting season to test the benefits
generated by the legal production of morphine by Afghan poppy farmers.
In October, the European Parliament endorsed the Poppy for
Medicine with an overwhelming majority, and urged the Council of the
European Union to further investigate the systems necessary for the Afghan poppy
farmers to grow poppy for morphine. Afghanistan is currently the world largest
producer of opium for heroin. Enabling Afghan farmers to grow poppies for
medicinal morphine would also meet a global shortage of painkilling medicines.
"The European consensus on Afghan counter-narcotics is two-fold: On the
one hand, the Parliament agreed with the need to investigate all possible
economic solutions to address the opium crisis including Poppy for
Medicine. On the other hand, it agreed that chemical spraying of poppy crops
should not be an option in Afghanistan," said Jorrit Kamminga, Senlis Head of
Policy Research in Paris.
"The latter is extremely important as the
United States is planning aerial spraying of Afghan rural areas early next year.
Chemical spraying of farming communities would mean we lose any hope of ever
winning back the hearts and minds of the Afghan people. It would spell utter
disaster for NATO's stabilization mission in the country," Kamminga
Full Report available on
The Senlis Council's web
... Payvand News - 11/22/07 ... --