Monday, November 26, 2007

Insurgency and denial

Opposition parties this week accused the military and government of not honestly depicting the status of the war in Afghanistan. Following General Atkinson's appearance before the Commons defense committee, one member accused the General of wearing rose coloured glasses and not telling it straight on Panjwai and Zhari, where Canadian troops operate.

While military and government types denied the accusations, as if on cue seven Afghan police were beheaded by insurgents in the Arghandab district. It was in this area where several weeks ago Taliban insurgents briefly took territory within 16km of Kandahar city. That occupation followed the death of local strongman Mullah Naqib, leader of the Alikozai tribe and considered a solid NATO ally.

Now complaints are surfacing that President Karzai wrongly engineered a successor for Naqib:

Installing an untested young man as their tribal leader has hurt security, they say, pointing to the fact that, within weeks of the decision, Canadian and Afghan troops were required to push back the first major Taliban attack on Alokozai lands north of the city.

General Khan Mohammed, an Alokozai tribesman who serves as an adviser to the Interior Minister, said he recently visited Mr. Karzai at his palace with another senior elder to complain about the selection of the young leader...

"The tribe didn't choose this leader. I told him, you're increasing the violence in our lands." ...

"I told [Mr. Karzai], 'You're a Pashtun, you know our culture. ... This is the first time ever in Afghanistan, that a leader is chosen like this.' "

A Western diplomat in Kabul acknowledged that tribes usually choose their own leaders, but added that it's customary in Afghanistan for the central government to play a role in the selection of such an important figure as the Alokozai chief...

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