Saturday, November 24, 2007

Senlis: Taliban gaining 'political legitimacy' amongst Afghans

The Senlis Council's latest report, Stumbling into Chaos was released this week, and it has caused quite a splash. The Guardian sums it up well with Afghanistan 'falling into hands of Taliban':

The Taliban has a permanent presence in 54% of Afghanistan and the country is in serious danger of falling into Taliban hands, according to a report by an independent thinktank with long experience in the area.

Despite tens of thousands of Nato-led troops and billions of dollars in aid poured into the country, the insurgents, driven out by the American invasion in 2001, now control "vast swaths of unchallenged territory, including rural areas, some district centres, and important road arteries", the Senlis Council says in a report released yesterday.

On the basis of what it calls exclusive research, it warns that the insurgency is also exercising a "significant amount of psychological control, gaining more and more political legitimacy in the minds of the Afghan people who have a long history of shifting alliances and regime change".

It says the territory controlled by the Taliban has increased and the frontline is getting closer to Kabul - a warning echoed by the UN which says more and more of the country is becoming a "no go" area for western aid and development workers.

While NATO types quickly seconded the Senlis call for more troops (while dismissing other aspects of the report), it seems that NATO bigwigs don't expect a significant troops surge and are thus settling for the meager forces they do have while putting on a brave face:
"As far as the NATO military presence in Afghanistan is concerned, we are almost there," said [NATO Secretary-Gen Jaap] de Hoop Scheffer. "We have filled what the military say we need by 90 percent, but not 100 percent, so I am not satisfied as a NATO secretary general." (link)

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