Sunday, January 18, 2009

'People have turned against the NATO forces'

From the Huffington Post:

Virginia M. Moncrieff - Veteran Foreign Reporter
January 16, 2009

Obama Must Isolate Al-Qaeda By Negotiating With Taliban: Analyst

Federico Manfredi strolled down to the local bus depot and started talking to people. The bus depot was in Kandahar, south Afghanistan, and it was the quickest way for Federico to get a grip on how people felt about the mess their country is in.

Manfredi, wearing civilian clothes and no threat to anyone, was able to ask local people about their concerns. What he heard underlined what he already knows as an insurgencies and counterinsurgencies specialist. The war is not working. Lack of security is a major issue, even though foreign troops are thick on the ground in southern Afghanistan. People were agitated and fearful, their sympathies have turned against the NATO forces, and yet they were anguished about the rising of the Taliban.

Manfredi became acutely aware of "the sense of helplessness [rural Afghans] experience when they hear the roar of combat aircraft approaching their villages... Coalition ground troops may request air support to win battles, but in doing so they are losing the war."...

Federico Manfredi feels that the increasing troop levels and stepping up military operations because the bipartisan view is that Afghanistan is a "good war" is just plain wrong.

In a report for the World Policy Institute... Manfredi says that the current US strategy in Afghanistan is failing, and that the US and their NATO allies are being led into an increasing bloody war that is straining relationships in NATO, having little success on the ground, and creating hostility with ordinary Afghans.

"Conventional military attacks on the Taliban and al Qaeda only radicalize besieged rural communities and fuel the insurgency. Instead of relying primarily on military force the United States should seek to isolate al Qaeda politically," Federico Manfredi told the Huffington Post from Kandahar. "Right now the Taliban and Al-Qaeda share a common enemy in the United States. But if the Obama administration can make it clear that the United States has no interest in a permanent occupation of Afghanistan, and that it would willingly withdraw its troops from the region if only the Taliban agreed to deny a safe haven to Al-Qaeda, then the nationalist factions within the movement might decide to switch their allegiance." ... (link)

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