President-Elect Barack Obama talked to Afghan President Hamid Karzai by telephone on Saturday. Late that day, Karzai’s office issued a statement about the conversation:
‘ “Obama said America will increase its commitment to bring security and stability to the government and people of Afghanistan . . .
“Obama also emphasized that combatting terrorism and bringing security to Afghanistan, the region and the world would be a priority of his government . . .” ‘
Reuters says that 4,000 persons have been killed in political violence in Afghanistan this year, about one third of them civilians.
Former British diplomat Rory Stewart, who runs a philanthropy in Kabul now, warns President-elect Obama against sending more troops to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban. Stewart argues that Afghanistan is just not that important to US security. Stewart writes in the NYT
‘ President-elect Obama’s emphasis on Afghanistan and his desire to send more troops and money there is misguided. Overestimating its importance distracts us from higher priorities, creates an unhealthy dynamic with the government of Afghanistan and endangers the one thing it needs — the stability that might come from a patient, limited, long-term relationship with the international community.’
We invaded intending to attack Al Qaeda
The US has 32,000 troops in Afghanistan and NATO has over 30,000 more. The US Marines are drafting plans to send 15,000 more from their branch of the military to fight in the vast, rugged country.
NATO, Afghan army, and dissident Afghan forces are preparing for a long hard slog this winter, since fighting may not decline this year in the way it has in the past, says the LAT.
The idea of army tribal levies to fight Taliban and anti-government dissidents is fraught with dangers. It also may not work. Analyst Khalid Aziz sketches out a more promising plan:
‘ “If you look at the counterinsurgency history and its doctrine, you cannot win and fight against an insurgency only by using military forces. Twenty percent is supposed to be the military side of it [and] 80 percent is supposed to be the people side of it,” Aziz said. “Now that is not the ratio that we are seeing in Pakistan or Afghanistan. It is the other way round, we see 80 percent military action and only 20 percent the civilian side.” ‘
Just this weekend, 8 Canadian troops were wounded by a roadside bomb, and a French soldier was killed and another wounded south of Kabul.
Aljazeera English reports on Taliban attacks on NATO convoys bringing food and other supplies from Pakistan to Western troops in Afghanistan.