Afghanistan: The Five Year Solution

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December 19, 2007: The U.S. is upset that NATO countries have failed to deliver three infantry battalions, 3,000 trainers and 20 transport and attack helicopters they promised to send. The reasons are part political (the Afghan operations are unpopular in Europe) and partly practical (the Cold War era forces most NATO nations have are not organized or equipped situations like Afghanistan. NATO nations are inclined to follow a five year plan to deal with the Taliban. The pro-Taliban tribes are willing to keep it up for decades, and with the help of drug gangs, they can afford to do that. To further complicate matters, Holland announced that they were withdrawing their troops from Afghanistan in 2010, no matter what. Many Europeans believe that if they just ignore Afghanistan, there will be no problem. Americans are more inclined to see the country becoming another base for international terrorism if the Islamic radicals are not neutralized (one way or another.)

A major factor in the Taliban violence is support from pro-Taliban tribes across the border in Pakistan. In some cases, it's the same tribe, with clans on both sides of the border. Since the Summer, Taliban attacks from Pakistan have fallen 40 percent. This is largely due to offensive operations by the Pakistan army, and increased activity by the Afghan army along the border.

For the government, the main problem is economic. In a poor country (the poorest on the planet outside of Africa), whoever can provide jobs will win the loyalty of the population. The growing wealth of the drug gangs makes these criminals a major economic, and political, factor. The drug gangs are allied with the Taliban, because both groups are fighting the government. The drug gangs stay out of the way of foreign and Afghan troops, it's the Taliban who are running around terrorizing people. For that, the Taliban are taking the most casualties. But as long as there is money to pay the Taliban gunmen (a minority volunteer for free), the violence will continue. The government is unsure how to proceed against the drug gangs, what with the growing number of government officials being bribed by the gangs.

December 15, 2007: Two more terrorist bombs went off in the capital, killing civilians and not doing much damage.

December 14, 2007: Mullah Sangeen, one of the major Taliban field commanders, was killed in the south.

 

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