Three Reports, One Conclusion: Afghanistan

The Taliban insurgency and terrorism has recently gained strength in Afghanistan in spite of the presence of about 50.000 US-led NATO troops in the country. This week only, Afghanistan experienced several suicide bombings in Kabul as well as in the southern part of the country which killed the deputy provincial governor of Helmand and many others. In coincidence with the last bomb attacks, four Western reports have been just made public within the last two days about the general crisis situation in Afghanistan and about the future of US-led NATO forces in the country. Generally speaking, the reports focused on the ‘failures’ of the NATO in achieving the pre-established goals with regard to reconstruction of Afghan state and elimination of Taliban militants. The reports further argued about the danger of Afghanistan becoming a ‘safe heaven’ for Taliban once again due to the great potentiality of the country to become a ‘failed state’. The first three of the reports have been produced by the three US-based organizations; The Afghanistan Study Group, Strategic Advisors Group of the Atlantic Council and National Defense University. Even though published separately, these three reports emphasized that “Afghanistan is at the crossroads” at the moment having a big potential to be lost in the Taliban radicalism due to a possible total collapse of the state. The Afghanistan Study Group, launched by the Center for the Study of the Presidency after the completion of the Iraq, warned the international community by stating that the ‘progress’ made in the six years since the end of the Taliban regime has been under a serious threat due to the “resurgent violence, weakening international resolve, and a growing lack of confidence on the part of Afghan people.” Complaining about the ‘too few military forces’ and ‘insufficient economic aid’, the Afghanistan study group has called for the revitalization and re-doubling the international efforts for the stabilization of Afghanistan. Furthermore, the study group, co-chaired by Jones with Thomas Pickering, a former US ambassador to Russia and other countries, called for a ‘de-coupling’ Iraq and Afghanistan to deal with the each issue separately with separate funds. On the other hand, the other two reports from the US warned that the US-led NATO project of eliminating terrorism ‘…is not winning in Afghanistan.’ Without an urgent reformulation of the policy towards the country, it is continued, Afghanistan could become a ‘failed or failing state’. Especially the Atlantic Council emphasized that in case of the failure of the state, the possible consequences will worsen the regionally stability and NATO’s future credibility. The Council, led by retired Marine Corps General James Jones, recommended that the US adopt a comprehensive plan to ‘save Afghanistan’ by bringing the other international actors such as EU and UN closer to the issue. The last report with regard to the ‘failure of NATO in Afghanistan’ came from the UK in the form of an open letter sent to the Prime Minister Gordon Brown by the charity organization Oxfam International. The Oxfam report mainly criticized the failures to initiate a ‘planned and organized’ approach towards Afghanistan for socio-economic and political reconstruction of the country. Arguing that the millions of dollars have been wasted, Oxfam warned about a possible ‘humanitarian disaster’ in the near future of the country due to the ever-deepening underdevelopment of the country. Being read altogether, the aforementioned reports have seemed to reveal the fact that the US-initiated project of ‘war on terrorism’ against the so called failed states has undergone into a deep crisis, if not been proven as a fiasco. The US-led NATO forces had invaded Afghanistan following the 9/11 events on the grounds that Afghanistan had become a ‘safe heaven’ for the international terrorism. However, since then, limited efforts have been spent to resolve the problems of underdevelopment in Afghanistan. Instead, the county, alongside Iraq, has become the main sources of instability and terrorism for the region. In spite of all these, the US continues to hold the same approach. As a response to the recent reports, the department spokesmen Sean McCormack stated “We know what a failed state in Afghanistan looks like. That was Afghanistan under Taliban prior to 2001. There has been real progress where Afghanistan was six years ago. Is there a long way to go? Absolutely!” Caglar Dolek (JTW-USAK)

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