A study of a USA diplomatic and military team, led by former UN ambassador Thomas Pickering and retired Marine Corps General James Jones was published, on 01/30/2008, and has concluded that Afghanistan risks turning into a ‘failed state’ and becoming a forgotten war.
According to the report - The Taliban have mounted a comeback in AFGHANISTAN over the past two years. The south of the country has seen the worst violence since the Taliban were thrown out of power in the US-led invasion of 2001, operation Absolute Justice.
The report recommended more NATO troops to be sent to AFGHANISTAN and more USA and international involvement – in short more of the same.
Just a day later, on 01/31/2008, another study group of scholars in AFGHANISTAN issued a similar report with almost the same basic conclusions –more foreign involvement. The report came on the same day that yet another senior official in AFGHANISTAN, deputy governor of AFGHANISTAN's Helmand province Haji Pir Mohammed was killed, with 7 other people, in a suicide bomb attack in a Mosque in Lashkar Gah, Helmand’s capital.
There are about 45,000 NATO troops in AFGHANISTAN, giving the AFGHANISTAN territory, 625,000 km - much more then Iraq, and the sectarian divided population of about 28 millions, also more then in Iraq, the numbers of NATO troops are ridiculous. In addition, most of them operate under very strict rules of engagement, issued by their governments, which practically prevent them from taking part in aggressive military operations. The real fighting is carried out mainly by UK and USA troops.
The problem with the two reports is that they almost ignore the lessons from Iraq. Iraq will never be a neglected war since Iraq is located in the heart of the Middle East, in the center of the largest oil reserve in the world and in the frontline of the conflict between Sunnites and Shiites in Islam. Despite the total involvement of USA, but also the international community and the number coalition troops, over 175,000, the situation in Iraq is, in many aspects, even worse then in AFGHANISTAN. The attempt to impose, on the local society an alien political culture- Democracy, is in the bottom of the double failure in Iraq and AFGHANISTAN and not the specific number of troops.
USA and NATO have an alternative option, to contain the Jihadi threat from outside, through cooperation with neighbor countries like Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey in the Iraqi case, or Pakistan, and central Asia republics in the Afghan case; to locate, pinpoint and attack Taliban, Al Qaeda or other Jihadi targets in hit and run raids but not to occupy other countries or neglect local historical rivalries and traditions. Because the presence of foreign soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan creates a wide coalition between ideological Islamist who will go after USA and the Western Democracies, no matter what, and local ordinary citizens with normal patriotic feelings who just want to get rid of the foreign presence and occupation.
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