A massive waste of American resources, accomplishing nothing but the weakening of America. “Afghanistan awaits its fate at the hands of the Taliban,” by Sandy Gall in the Telegraph, October 8 (thanks to Inexion):
In an interview with the BBC, six months before leaving office, President Hamid Karzai has put the boot into the British — and the West — in terms as extreme as any he has used before. “On the security front,” he claimed, “the entire Nato exercise was one that caused Afghanistan a lot of suffering, a lot of loss of life, and no gains because the country is not secure.”He even made the far-fetched claim that Nato is colluding with the Taliban….
In Kabul the other day, I was told a story about the members of the extensive Karzai family. One brother had complained to my friend about the obscene amount of money another member of the family was making — something like a million dollars a week — even though, he boasted, he already had $950,000 in the bank. This in one of the poorest countries in the world, with millions of its inhabitants living below the poverty line.
One would have thought this was the stuff of revolution, but so far the fatal spark seems to be missing. Instead, nemesis, in the shape of an increasingly violent Taliban, stalks the land. At a pre-election party given by one of the few grand families left in Kabul — nominations for Karzai’s successor closed at the weekend, with the elections due next April — I found myself talking to a former minister of the interior.
How were things? I asked. “Considerably worse than before the last election,” he replied. “Everything’s up. The number of Taliban attacks, the number of suicide bombings, car bombs, ambushes and kidnappings, the number of casualties, civilian and military”¦” The difference, of course, was that whereas in 2009, the dead were mainly Nato soldiers, now they are members of the Afghan army and police….
A member of a well-known family from the same village as the late guerrilla leader Ahmad Shah Massoud (killed by al-Qaeda two days before 9/11), Noor had a famous brother, Yunus — Afghanistan’s first nuclear physicist, murdered after the 1978 coup. Noor worked for the UN in Afghanistan for many years and was engaged on a ministry of agriculture project in Logar, known for its Taliban penetration. Travelling in convoy, his party was stopped by gunmen. Noor and another Panjshiri were ordered out of their cars and summarily shot by the roadside. Such ruthless Mafia-style killings are now commonplace.
There are some bright patches. The villagers of Panjwai, a district of Kandahar that rebelled against Taliban intimidation and domination earlier this year, are keeping them at bay. But they are an exception. The Taliban’s hold in many parts of the country is worryingly strong. Pakistan, as far as one can tell, is still behind them. So far the Islamists appear to have played little part in peace talks, such as they are — although in his interview, President Karzai signalled his willingness to welcome them back into government.
Many Afghans I spoke to believe the Taliban is playing a waiting game. When the time is right — after the last Nato troops have gone, by the end of next year — they will make their move to take control. This is a possibility that the British, for one, seem to be taking extremely seriously. But what we and the Americans can do to prevent it is another matter.