Thursday, 15 February 2007

All not-so-quiet on the Afghan front

It has been around five years since the United States and its allies — more then than it has now — invaded Afghanistan following the 9/11 terror attacks. From then on, the fighting in Afghanistan has been a roller coaster ride. But now the Taliban, which has collaborated with terrorist group al-Qaeda and ruled Afghanistan before the 2002 invasion, has resurged with enough support and strength to scare NATO forces as they prepare for its apparent heavy offensive this spring. It sprung up as a resistance movement to Soviet Russia's trying to invade it; i.e. Afghanistan was arguably a front for Cold War proxy wars between the US and USSR. Like any other movement, the Taliban is not entirely bad, nor is it a positive force in modern Afghanistan. The United States is peeved that, in its eyes, NATO and Europe are not stepping up to the plate in their fight in Afghanistan. The country is, by the way, not very free and democratic as its constitution has about as many extreme contradictions as the Bible (e.g., how can a woman have inalienable rights if traditional conservative Muslim doctrines also in the constitution forbid those rights?). There is also a problem with terrorists crossing Afghanistan's shared border with Pakistan. Although the Pakistani government insists it does all it can to fight against extremists, many have been skeptical.

AP via CNN:

Describing a country on the brink, President Bush on Thursday exhorted NATO nations to send additional troops to Afghanistan and allow their soldiers already there to fight in the violent south and under other dangerous circumstances.

"When our commanders on the ground say to our respective countries 'We need additional help,' our NATO countries must provide it," Bush said in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute. "As well, allies must lift restrictions on the forces they do provide so NATO commanders have the flexibility they need to defeat the enemy wherever the enemy may make its stand."
Fighting in Afghanistan the past year was the bloodiest since the U.S.-led war started in 2001 and toppled the Taliban regime. Commanders anticipate a renewed offensive this spring by Taliban fighters trying to stage a comeback and topple the elected government in Kabul.

Several countries have offered recently to provide additional support to the 35,500-strong NATO force, but it remains to be seen whether coalition commanders will get the troops, equipment and rules of engagement they say they need.

The Pentagon announced Wednesday that about 3,000 soldiers who had been scheduled to go to Iraq would be sent to Afghanistan instead. That puts the U.S. presence there at about 27,000 -- the highest of the war -- with 15,000 serving as part of the NATO-led force and another 12,000 special operations forces and trainers.

The president is asking Congress to provide $11.8 billion over the next two years for operations, military and otherwise, in Afghanistan.

Bush said the need for others nations to step up is great as spring comes, bringing an expected new offensive by the Taliban.
As a side-note, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) is a neocon/conservative think-tank that has closely collaborated with the White House on successes like Iraq (sarcasm, for those who can't recognize it).

Bush is right to send more troops and money to Afghanistan. A recent study, The Terrorism Index, concluded a majority of American foreign policy and national security experts of all stripes believe that to be the right move.

BBC News has a slew of analysis on and guides to Afghanistan, such as a five-year check-up and a progress report on whether forces are winning or loosing against Taliban insurgent forces reincarnating their power and influence as NATO troops try to keep up and rebuild. There's also Wikipedia if one wants to further delve into the tomes of knowledge compiled on Afghanistan.

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