044_Global12_Arena_V7

Global issue 12

Arena xxx...Pressure Points Afghanistan: the missed opportunity Lucy Morgan Edwards D for the USA and NATO is nothing less than a major strate- huge strategic mistake since it is the Pashtuns who need to bebroughtfound themselves (despite having the Pashtun fi gurehead of HamidKarzai) as effectively associated with the Taliban. This has been aespite enormous resources spent on the Afghan war overthe past decade and the loss of life on all sides, the outlook gic failure. The US decision to scale back joint operations with na- ‘on side’ rather than alienated. tional forces in response to the spate of attacks by Afghan soldiers I worked in Afghanistan both pre- and post-9/11 and was involved, on their foreign mentors has been yet another sign of this failure. during the fi rst fi ve years of the war, in various jobs that gave me direct In essence, mistakes that were made in 2001 have been compound- experience of the post-9/11 intervention. It soon became obvious that ed over the past decade in the Afghan war. The theoretical handover the West was ignoring the issue of Afghan political legitimacy, and my to Afghan forces of security for the Kabul government is due in 2014 particular interest became the West’s failure to recognise and support but, with the government facing a severe crisis of legitimacy, this so- an Afghan initiative to overthrow the Taliban. This became the basis called ‘transition’ is discredited. It is seen by many Afghans as the of an investigation that resulted in my book,The Afghan Solution: The West’s way of trying to prop up the increasingly unpopular regime Inside Story of Abdul Haq, the CIA and How Western Hubris Lost (effectively, a government of unindicted strongmen) that was hastily Afghanistan. installed after 9/11. The performance of the government of President The Afghan solution in 2001 was based not on a Western military Hamid Karzai has been lamentable, and the state exhibits a crisis of intervention but on an internal implosion of the Taliban and the re- impunity in terms of clientelism and corruption. establishment of an alternative regime that would likely have had a The current political challenges stem from the fact that in 2001 the great deal more legitimacy than Karzai’s foreign-backed government. West effectively intervened in an ongoing civil war in Afghanistan, The commander who was to have brought this about was Abdul Haq, backing one side, the (mostly Tajik) Northern Alliance, against the who was well known to Washington insiders during the 1980s for his (mostly Pashtun) Taliban. Since then, there has been little attempt by very effective operations against the communist regime in Kabul. the West to heal the fi ssures resulting from the wrong-headed policy Though from a historic family of Ghilzai Pashtuns (who were tradi- and military strategy adopted in 2001-02. Crucially, Pashtuns, who tionally in competition with the Durrani Pashtuns of Kandahar), Haq comprise the largest ethnic group, were effectively cut out of the po- understood the necessity of bringing back the ex-king, Mohammed Credit: US Army photo/Sgt. Russell Gilchrest CC BY 2.00 litical settlement that followed the fall of Kabul, and since 2001 have Zahir Shah, as a rallying point for the various tribal, ethnic and fac- 44 lwww.global-briefing.org fourth quarter 2012global


Global issue 12
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