…Hamid Karzai says it is time foreign troops left his country because the troops are now “hindering progress.”
At the same club meeting, Oxfam said it is time the PRT’s got out because it is putting aid workers at risk as they are too often linked to the military. Yes, I am sure that is why they are being attacked and certainly not because they are soft unarmed targets from whom decent ransoms can be earned…or because the decreased military component of reconstruction teams means there is less of a local deterrent to errant bandits…news flash!! Afghanistan has been a dangerous place to visit or work for the last 31 years…
Mr Karzai’s comments are not the first time he has called for foreign troops to exit. He is under pressure at home from locals who want to control their own country. Now, there’s a surprise…surely not because they tire of a foreign force propping up what many Afghans consider a puppet government attempting to inflict central control over cultures that have always (well, since before Alexander’s Afghanistan Tour) been quite happy thank you very to do their own thing without so much as a nod towards any notions of central government…
“Afghanistan wants control of its own affairs by all means in the security sector. Whether Afghanistan is ready or not must not be a reason,” Karzai said. “The Afghans don’t want a European government, the Afghans don’t want an American government. . . . Afghans want an Afghan government.”
What is even more amazing than Karzai’s latest is that every contributing nation didn’t seize this exit strategy golden egg by the horns and fill the Afghan night with ripples of pops as as the vacuum left by each exiting force was filled by something else…
Regardless, though, of when and how, ISAF depart Afghanistan, each contributing nation (yes, that include you EU folk too!) needs to ante up and accept responsibility for the cultural and social changes that it has supported in Afghanistan. Even assuming that the Karzai government or its ISAF-backed successor lasts beyond the first night of independence, it’s unlikely that it will last much past when the money runs out which will more likely be when the last suitcase packed full of dollars goes through the luggage check-in at Kabul International than when it is expended on running the country…and when the darkness comes, those nations and agencies that thought it was so ‘right’ to introduce democracy and free speech and equal rights and all that other good Western ideology need to step up to the plate and do right by the vulnerable people they left behind…
GEN Petraeus also looks to be gearing up for that day when the last helicopter lifts off the roof of an embassy…from the Financial Times via Michael Yon:
Petraeus defends plan to arm villagers
By Matthew Green in Kabul
Published: February 7 2011 18:42 | Last updated: February 7 2011 18:42
General David Petraeus, the top US and Nato commander in Afghanistan, plans to triple a scheme that has armed thousands of village recruits, dismissing fears that the strategy could nurture a new generation of warlords. [Comment: the current warlords don’t seem to have a shortage of weapons now…]
With violence in Afghanistan rising and Nato allies anxious to hand over to Afghan forces in 2014, Gen Petraeus wants to bolster security, in part by sending 12-man teams of US special forces to train locals. [Comment: that’s 2014 THIS century or in three years time; like, only one third of the time that we haven’t been able to sort Afghanisatn out in since November 2001]
Human rights groups and aid agencies have called for the plan to be scrapped, fearing it threatens to fuel conflicts and empower the kind of militia commanders who ravaged Afghanistan during years of civil war in the 1990s. The government of Hamid Karzai, the president, has also been wary of similar initiatives. [Comment: damn right it’s ‘wary’ – last thing Uncle Hamid wants is more people able to resist central government – it’s a bit of an ask to consider it ‘governance’.]
But Gen Petraeus said the scheme was vital in enlisting the support of locals.
“The idea is that these actually mobilise not just individuals, but communities,” he told the Financial Times. “Elders support it. The elders also police it to a degree.”
The plan has echoes of the approach Gen Petraeus adopted while commanding the 2007 troop surge in Iraq, where he encouraged the Awakening movement of Sunni tribes that helped curb violence.
But he said the Afghan Local Police – as the plan is known – would be a very different exercise. It aims to work with the government to reach often isolated areas where people wanted help to resist the Taliban.
To critics, the scheme represents a quick-fix solution adopted to meet political pressures for withdrawal in western capitals.
Since Gen Petraeus took command of international forces in Afghanistan in July, the programme has been started in 17 sites, with a total of more than 3,100 paid recruits, he said. The Nato-led force is awaiting Afghan government approval for more than 40 additional sites, and hopes to add another 4,500 men by spring, a US military official said.
The recruits, whose biometric data is recorded, are given a salary, registered weapons and khaki uniforms. Their primary role is to man checkpoints or patrol their home areas.
General Petraeus says the training is being conducted with the oversight of Afghan authorities, local government, police and elders. “They work for the district chief of police, not a local warlord or elder or power-broker,” he said.
Nato allies have launched a sucession of similar schemes with scant success, but US officials believe extra resources and closer collaboration with the government will deliver results. A similar programme, the Local Defence Initiative, ran into problems last year when it donated $1m to the Shinwari tribe in the eastern Nangahar Province, which became embroiled in a land dispute last year instead of fighting the Taliban, according to Oxfam.
Probably too little, too late…even though Jim Gant’s plane got diverted from Iraq to Afghanistan after Steven Pressfield published his excellent One Tribe At A Time paper, tribal engagement is s campaign that needed to have been continued and expanded from 2001 after the Northern ‘Alliance’ was used to gain an initial upper hand on Terry Taliban…