ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Afghanistan: Beyond the 'Surge' Strategy

A regional diplomatic option could have promised more for Afghanistan than the military approach of the US.

War-torn Afghanistan is now threatened with more turmoil as United States (US) President Barack Obama has announced a “surge” of 30,000 troops and their withdrawal after 18 months of military engagement. Obama’s apparent calculation is to prevent the areas now under the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), the US and Afghan government control from falling to the Taliban. The Taliban beside consolidating its presence in Helmand and Kandahar provinces, has managed to increase its presence in the eastern province of Khost, bolstered by help from the Haqqani network of insurgents. And the resurgence of the Taliban is seen by the Obama administration as helping the forces of Al Qaida – the US’ primary non-state enemy. Barack Obama, however, clearly refuses to learn the lessons of the past eight years of US/NATO presence in Afghanistan.

US and NATO actions in Afghanistan helped the overthrow of the Taliban regime in 2001 and oversaw a “national” government led by Hamid Karzai, only for Karzai to be reduced over time to having control over a considerably reduced territory as the Taliban managed to stage a steady comeback. The Taliban’s resurgence has much to do with the great resentment at the US-led attacks, which have resulted in rising number of casualties among civilians. Besides, the Karzai Government, with its record of corruption has lost much of its legitimacy and the "national government" is basically a conglomerate of several warlords. Contrary to what the occupying forces expected, the US and NATO engagement has only resulted in the propping up of a “narco-state” with key functionaries of the government controlling opium production and the “rebuilding” efforts reeking of widespread corruption.

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