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Thread: How Complex Is the Situation In Afghanistan?

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    How Complex Is the Situation In Afghanistan?

    I've always seen everyone paint all of the various forces in Afghanistan fighting against NATO/American troops as "the Talib'an". This practice is very common in the western media, as well. However, this is very far from the truth; the reality is, as always, much more complex. I think this article by Juan Cole is a good example of how complex and nuanced the reality actually is:


    7 NATO Troops Killed; as Karzai is Said to Dicker with Insurgents; and Panetta Scoffs Taliban Rejoice in McChrystal Firing

    Radio Azadi reports that from early Sunday morning in the Marawara District of Kunar Province, a vigorous firefight has been pursued by the Taliban on the one hand and on the other, joint NATO and Afghanistan National Army troops. At least three NATO troops were killed, including 2 Americans, in the fighting.


    Those tribesmen who take up arms against NATO and the central government are termed ‘Taliban’ in the Western press. But the major Muslim fundamentalist guerrilla group in Kunar Province is the Hizb-i Islami of old-time Reagan-era ‘freedom fighter’ Gulbuddin Hikmatyar. Hikmatyar has been talking about negotiating a peace with Karzai. In March, his forces fought a battle with rival Taliban that left dozens dead. Hikmatyar offers himself as a mediator with the militants who can pave a path to peace and reconciliation if only the US and NATO will agree to get out of his country.


    Just Saturday, a battle broke out between Taliban and Hizb-i Islami militants in Maidan Wardak province, southwest of Kunar, on the other side of Kabul.


    Not only is President Hamid Karzai reputedly talking to Hikmatyar, but Aljazeera reported Sunday that he has had secret meetings with Siraj Haqqani. The son of old-time Reagan-era Mujahidin leader Jalaluddin Haqqani, Siraj is based in North Waziristan and raids into Afghanistan. Western intelligence considers the Haqqani network closest to the Arab al-Qaeda cells in Pakistan’s tribal belt. If it is true that Karzai is talking to Haqqani (he denies it), this step is taken to signal that he may be tacking toward Pakistan and its Inter-Services Intelligence, and away from the embrace of the United States.


    On ABC This Week with Jake Tapper, CIA director Leon Panetta threw cold water all over the idea of talks and reconciliation:
    ‘ the bottom line is that we really have not seen any firm intelligence that there’s a real interest among the Taliban, the militant allies of Al Qaida, Al Qaida itself, the Haqqanis, TTP, other militant groups. We have seen no evidence that they are truly interested in reconciliation, where they would surrender their arms, where they would denounce Al Qaida, where they would really try to become part of that society.’
    I think Panetta is being too categorical in his skepticism. There are other reasons for tribal factions to dicker with bigger, stronger forces than fear of annihilation (indeed, given Pashtun codes of honor, they could hardly parley when their situation was truly perilous). For instance, there is Hikmatyar’s feud with the Taliban, which may have brought him closer to compromise with Karzai.


    As if to underline Panetta’s skepticism, however, the Taliban leader in Kunar Province, Obaid al-Rahman, had said this weekend that he and other Taliban were delighted with the firing of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, since it would take his successor, Gen. David Petraeus, time to get used to Taliban tactics. In the meantime they could regroup. He promised a dramatic attack soon. Obaid al-Rahman also offered Gen. Petraeus a praetorian “Guard of Death.” It is therefore no surprise that fighting broke out in Marawara between US/NATO forces and the Taliban.





    In the US, Afghanistan is mostly discussed abstractly, leading to categorical judgments like that of Panetta. But let us look at the concrete situation. Marawara in southeast Afghanistan, abutting Pakistan’s Bajaur Tribal Agency, is just about at the end of the world. Here are its social statistics [pdf]. It is 86 percent either mountainous or semi-mountainous. Its 400,000 people are 96 percent rural. It still has thousands of pastoral nomads. The people of Marawara widely lack access to clean drinking water or sanitary toilets. Some 47% of the men are literate (a remarkably high number, probably attesting to the efficacy of Qur’an schools) but only 18% of women are. The majority is Pashtuns, but it has a small Nuristani minority. Nuristanis, called ‘Kafirs’ until their conversion to Islam in 1896, speak an Indo-Iranian language very different from Persian or Punjabi, which is often considered a third branch of this language family, and likely they are descendants of a very ancient wave of Indo-European migration into Central Asia that never went south into India. The major tribes of Marawara, mostly Pashtuns, include the Safi, Salarzai, Mashwani, Mamon, and Shinwari.





    Districts such as Marawara are in the midst of an internal fight. Some of the village ares and the few urban people support the government of Hamid Karzai and his NATO allies. A provincial reconstruction team visited the district in January and spoke of progress in building a district government center (where Afghanistan National Army troops would also be stationed) and in fighting malnutrition and malaria.


    But many young tribesmen do not want the government center or the Kabul troops, or the foreign armies. Government programs do not help everyone equally. Perhaps they have even been disadvantaged by changes wrought from the outside. For them, independence and Muslim fundamentalism and local interests are supreme, and they will not rest until the foreign troops (and they may well count the disproportionately Tajik national army in that category) are out.


    It is not clear from the vague Persian and English press reports whether Sunday’s battle was with Taliban, or Hizb-i Islami, or just tribal youth who don’t like foreigners. If NATO is fighting Taliban in Marawara, they may be making friends thereby with Hizb-i Islami, which had been in the past the second-largest insurgent group, responsible for significant losses of life among US and NATO soldiers.


    Of course, that issue raises the question of which faction of Taliban is active in Marawara. Is it the Old Taliban of Mulla Omar (which tends to have its power bases in the West) or the Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan), based over the border in Pakistan?


    In any case, two American soldiers died fighting in Marawara on Sunday, along with another NATO soldier. The Western press just said it was in eastern Afghanistan. Maybe they mentioned Kunar. Not all did. We aren’t told the details of these things. Which tribesmen fought? Under whose banner, exactly? Is the fighting a cause of despair, as we’re losing troops at the end of the world? Or were they maneuvering Hikmatyar and Hizb-i-Islami into an alliance with Karzai that seems promising as a way of ending the war?


    In other news, Taliban set a roadside bomb in the northern Faryab Province that killed 4 Norwegian troops on Sunday, as well. That datum is actually quite weird. Faryab is mostly Uzbek, with a Tajik minority, and Pashtuns there are only 12 percent of the population. But likely it was a cell of radicalized Pashtuns that carried out the bombing. Faryab is a relatively calm, safe, posting. It is a little worrying that the Taliban are developing such long arms that they can reach into it and hit NATO, way up there.


    Marawara. Faryab. The words mean nothing to most Westerners, even as they insist that their security depends on what happens in those fabulous and distant places. But if we do not even know what the fighting is about in those places, we do not understand the circumstances in which young men of NATO gave their lives Monday. And since in a democracy, young men fight on behalf of we the people, we have an obligation to know more about the hells into which we send them before we conclude that we did the right thing.


    SOURCE
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    Re: How Complex Is the Situation In Afghanistan?

    Its 400,000 people are 96 percent rural.
    I'm pretty sure there are a lot more than 400,000 people in Afghanistan.
    There are 140,000 US and allied troops over there.

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    Re: How Complex Is the Situation In Afghanistan?

    Quote Originally Posted by 1069 View Post
    I'm pretty sure there are a lot more than 400,000 people in Afghanistan.
    There are 140,000 US and allied troops over there.
    Yes there are and the article never said there was only 400 000 people in Afghanistan

    It said

    Marawara in southeast Afghanistan, abutting Pakistan’s Bajaur Tribal Agency, is just about at the end of the world. Here are its social statistics [pdf]. It is 86 percent either mountainous or semi-mountainous. Its 400,000 people are 96 percent rural. It still has thousands of pastoral nomads
    Which means that there are an estimated 400 000 people in Marawara. Afghanistan's population is estimated to be about 24 million. Suprisingly high to me considering the decades of war and that its population war around 14-15 million in the 80's
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    Re: How Complex Is the Situation In Afghanistan?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Tammerlain View Post
    Yes there are and the article never said there was only 400 000 people in Afghanistan

    It said
    Oh, good. I was gonna say...

    Which means that there are an estimated 400 000 people in Marawara. Afghanistan's population is estimated to be about 24 million. Suprisingly high to me considering the decades of war and that its population war around 14-15 million in the 80's
    Yeah, but almost 50% of their population's under 14.
    Yet another reason that time is of the essence if we're going to have any success imposing our will upon them over there.
    In another five or ten years, it will be much, much more difficult.
    Last edited by 1069; 06-28-10 at 07:21 PM.

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    Re: How Complex Is the Situation In Afghanistan?

    Quote Originally Posted by 1069 View Post
    Oh, good. I was gonna say...



    Yeah, but almost 50% of their population's under 14.
    Yet another reason that time is of the essence if we're going to have any success imposing our will upon them over there.
    In another five or ten years, it will be much, much more difficult.

    I doubt the US will have any success in imposing will on Afghanistan. No one has subdued the Pashtuns, and no one will withouth a dramatic change in Pashtun culture. That will take decades and very strong economic development. Not something I believe anyone wants to fund out of their pockets

    Nobody has subdued the Pashtuns in over 2000 years, the most anyone has ever done is say they control them, but has instead left them alone, provided they did the same. T
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    Re: How Complex Is the Situation In Afghanistan?

    We need to let it go. Yes, it is very complex. I don't see us gaining a permanent foothold. The only way to win a war is to bomb the **** out of the populace and kill a lot of citizens to get to the Taliban or whomever else your are fighting. Nobody has the stomach for it and really what would we gain by it.

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    Re: How Complex Is the Situation In Afghanistan?

    Quote Originally Posted by jambalaya View Post
    We need to let it go. Yes, it is very complex. I don't see us gaining a permanent foothold. The only way to win a war is to bomb the **** out of the populace and kill a lot of citizens to get to the Taliban or whomever else your are fighting. Nobody has the stomach for it and really what would we gain by it.
    Well what would be gained, is the securing of a region which is determined to destroy us; which the assertion "no one has the stomach for it..." doesn't bode well, for 'us' or our sovereign existence.

    Ya see, we're not the aggressor. So we either kick their ass or they kick ours. No gray area... No ties... Pick a side and stay on it.

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    Re: How Complex Is the Situation In Afghanistan?

    Quote Originally Posted by PubliusInfinitu View Post
    Well what would be gained, is the securing of a region which is determined to destroy us; which the assertion "no one has the stomach for it..." doesn't bode well, for 'us' or our sovereign existence.

    Ya see, we're not the aggressor. So we either kick their ass or they kick ours. No gray area... No ties... Pick a side and stay on it.
    We are not truly kicking ass and that is the problem. Change the rules of engagement and maybe we can accomplish more. If establishing a holding pattern to keep the region relatively secure it the goal then I guess we are winning. The government tries to make it seem that the ultimate goal of winning over the people of Afghanistan is doable. I say no.

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    Re: How Complex Is the Situation In Afghanistan?

    .
    Well what would be gained, is the securing of a region which is determined to destroy us;
    lolol

    How are any Afghanis a threat to the US exactly?

    Ya see, we're not the aggressor.
    Yes, the US invaded Afghanistan without provocation. That is being an aggressor. The fact that Iraq and Afghanistan were "pre-emptive" invasions is common knowledge.
    "I do not claim that every incident in the history of empire can be explained in directly economic terms. Economic interests are filtered through a political process, policies are implemented by a complex state apparatus, and the whole system generates its own momentum."

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    Re: How Complex Is the Situation In Afghanistan?

    Quote Originally Posted by Khayembii Communique View Post
    lolol

    How are any Afghanis a threat to the US exactly?
    Well there's the whole 9-11 thing... Wherein the Afghan government; OKA: The Taliban... Which just happens to be the contesting force in Afghanistan, which is determined to regain control and return to governance in Afghanistan, despite the US having removed them by force, after they had allowed Al Qaeda to use Afghanistan as a base of operations, for the purposes of plotting, planning and executing the aforementioned sneak attack upon the US, resulting in the murder of 3000 innocents on 9-11 and tens of thousands killed in the prosecution of the war that resulted, since.

    For those that have forgotten... Here's a reminder of why the US is in Afghanistan.



    Yes, the US invaded Afghanistan without provocation.
    Hmm... without Provocation ya say?

    Again:




    Now the US is in Afghanistan, because the Taliban which governed Afghanistan at the time, refused to surrender the Al Qaeda terrorist which they were harboring, who perpetrated that attack.

    Now perhaps you're not familiar witht he concept of 'provocation': Provocation: Reason for attacking somebody; criminal law something that incites somebody to attack somebody else


    Now, just to be sure ya grasp it:


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