The 21st Century Phenomenon



The senior British commander in Afghanistan Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith has said, on Sunday 10/05/2008, that a decisive military victory in Afghanistan is impossible and the Taliban may have to be part of a long-term solution for the country.

“If the Taliban were prepared to sit on the other side of the table and talk about a political settlement, then that’s precisely the sort of progress that concludes insurgencies like this,” Carleton-Smith was quoted.

The inclusive approach appeared to be echoed by General Abdul Rahim Wardak, Afghanistan’s defense minister, who said the idea that Afghanistan had to find political solutions to end the fighting had long been endorsed by Hamid Karzai, the president.

Afghanistan is 1.5 times larger then Iraq, much more undeveloped then Iraq and tangled in sectarian and tribal conflicts similar to Iraq. Despite that NATO-ISAF in Afghanistan, numbered at about 70,000, is less then half of USA led coalition in Iraq. 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. 

Afghanistan was practically ruled by Pakistan, through the Pakistani Intelligence – ISI, in the years of the Taliban regime 1998-2001. Pakistan operated through the local traditions, rivalries and tribal alliances and did not aspire to transform the Afghan society from its roots.

It was relative easy to topple the Taliban regime through a coalition of local tribes, named the ‘Northern Alliance’ and with the afghan tradition to switch sides for what ever the reasons are – money, drug trafficking, power or historic rivalries (see – Absolute Justice).

When USA and NATO set further objectives to the war in Afghanistan rather then just to overthrow the Taliban regime and replace it with another pro American tribal alliance, such as democracy, women rights, symbolized by the Nikab (veil)  and drug production and trafficking – iIt was no longer just a war against the Taliban but a conflict with the basic heritage and tradition of the Afghan society as such.

The Afghan society lacks the basic infrastructure for democracy. There is no middle class, half of the population does not know to read and write, there is no modern communication system and free press read by the masses. 

Indeed, Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan’s President, already offered in the past senior position to former Taliban and other Islamic militants, such as Jalaluddin Haqqani or Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. He already offered, more then once, to pro Taliban tribes to open a dialog about sharing power deal in 09/2007 (see – Karzai’s offer). He also clashed with British PM Gordon Brown, in 06/2008, over Brown’s interference in the nomination of governors who are at the same time also senior drug barons (see – British interference).

Hamid Karzai understands well that the way to stabilize Afghanistan is through local tribe leaders, through sharing power and alliances with militias, war lords and drug dealers rather then imposing democracy and western values on Afghanistan. Afghanistan is not in Europe but in Central Asia, where democracy has its own meaning and implications.


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