Enduring Freedom’s deadlock
Dmitriy SEDOV | 25.06.2011 | WORLD / Middle East

Enduring Freedom’s deadlock

On Wednesday, US President Barack Obama announced the launch of a long-awaited withdrawal of the US contingent from Afghanistan. The discussion on this issue has been on in the US for quite a long time and it is clear to everyone that the “Enduring Freedom” operation in Afghanistan has come to a deadlock. No progress has been made while the price of war has exceeded any thinkable limits.That is why the arguments concern only two things: the period of the withdrawal and the terms. Now it has been confirmed: the US servicemen are to leave Afghanistan before 2014 in the result of a phase-by-phase reduction of the 100,000 contingent.   

It is quite predictable that the allies of the US won’t stay in Afghanistan longer than the Americans.

According to Obama’s statement “the mission has been completed”. In particular, Obama said:  “The United States had largely achieved its goals in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda is under more pressure than at any time since 9/11.” He said that an intense campaign of drone strikes and other covert operations in Pakistan had crippled Al Qaeda’s original network in the region, leaving its leaders either dead or pinned down in the rugged border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Of 30 top Qaeda leaders identified by American intelligence, 20 have been killed in the last year and a half while the others were pushed to the border with Pakistan”. Obama also said that it is time for America to focus on its domestic issues.  But he noted that the end of the military campaign which cost the US billions of dollars and 1,500 human lives implies serious risks.    

The risk is really high. The United States have repeatedly failed to carry out a forced democratization of the nation, which is mentally remote from the American culture and lifestyle.

- The US failed to strengthen  the position of the pro-American regime in Afghanistan, leaving a fully corrupted and powerless government of president Hamid Karzai, surrounded by enemies. 

- Vulnerable peace in the country is only possible because the government is supported by the invaders. When they leave the situation will completely change – let’s recall 1989 - president Najibullah betrayed by Gorbachev was hanged by Taliban insurgents.

- The Afghan economy practically does not work. The agriculture is infected with the virus of drug production. Foreign (US) aid accounts for more than 90% of the state budget.

The hunt for Al Qaeda, which turned into the “terror of drones” and was unsuccessful leading only to deaths of many peaceful citizens. The only achievement of the US troops is making Al Qaeda shift its bases to Belujistan and some other areas. By now, Al Qaeda has strengthened its positions in Pakistan and is spreading its influence in Yemen, where it even has its administrative bodies in some settlements. Presumably, when Americans leave Afghanistan Al Qaeda will come back closer to Kabul because the government of Hamid Karzai is not a serious rival and Al Qaeda has never been hostile to the Taliban. Why is the mission of the US in Afghanistan “accomplished”?

At present the Americans are holding intensive talks with the Taliban’s representatives, hoping that Taliban will promise them “to behave well” after the pullout of the US troops.  But in the eyes of the advocates of Islam, before 2001 the Taliban government also behaved well. It steadily controlled the relations between the tribes, strengthened the religious values and tried to restore the economy. Though not everyone liked the radical ideology of the Taliban, but if they come to power they will act the way they did before. Why is the mission of the US in Afghanistan “accomplished”?

Now the Americans are trying to negotiate guaranteed security for Karzai and his associates but this all is lost trouble. They will hear promises, of course, but the rest is up in the air. The Taliban has always been cruel to betrayers and collaborators.

At the same time Washington understands that it is not able to finance troops in Afghanistan using the funds of the US taxpayers as it has been done for 10 years. The US budget is overloaded and serious cuts of foreign expenditures are planned. During the transition period the Afghan government will already face drastic outflow of the American funds. The government without money is actually dead. Besides that the tribal leaders, who were keeping low profile because they were “bribed” with bags of dollars will emerge again – because dollar bags will begin to vanish.

Drug trafficking is a separate issue. Under the Taliban, there was only one opium production factory in Afghanistan and now there are more than thousand. The drug business is the only profit-making production, which contributes to the welfare of millions of people - from a common peasant, who grows opium poppy, to a governmental official, who controls drugs export routes. No doubt, that Taliban will resume its tough policy regarding drugs – the ideology has always been above the economy for this movement. What will the elimination of the drug production lead to? -  To riots? If the Taliban is back to power the “ghost” of drug-war will also return to Afghanistan. Will Washington carry responsibility for it?

That’s where risks come from. First of all, this is the risk of the Taliban’s coming to power and the Judgment Day for the American protégés. Bloodshedisinevitable.

Let’s briefly revise these 10 years of war and see what the Americans have achieved. They invaded the country, which was controlled by the radical Islamists. The US failed to defeat them or at least to shift them to the “outskirts” of the Afghan policy. The Taliban still controls most of the Afghan territory and is steadily moving back to power. What is the presence of the foreign military forces in the Islamic republic of Afghanistan? These are bases surrounded by wire and blockhouses. These are helicopters, which fly mainly at night because in the daytime the risk of flying is too high.

What is Afghanistan beyond the borders of Kabul and the regions of the deployment of the military bases? This is the territory, which is formally controlled by governors but in practice – by the tribal leaders for whom Karzai is not the head of the state but an American protégé.

Washingtonadmits that Karzai is now incapable of retaining power without the US’ support. He will be soon overthrown. The US envisaged this 3-year transition period to give Karzai an opportunity to consolidate power.  The question is – if he failed to do it in 10 years with the assistance of the Americans how can he do it in the next three years? HecannotcountontheUSanymore. “We will not police its streets or patrol its mountains indefinitely. That is the responsibility of the Afghan government, which must step up its ability to protect its people”, - the US President says.

What was the meaning of the intervention of Afghanistan for the US - if we do not count the interests of the Defense Industry complex and the drug business? The coalition troops came to the country controlled by the radical Islam and this control will be restored as soon as they leave the country.Americans’ fatigue of the war and the coming presidential elections made Obama take a very risky step. If the US fails to secure Karzai’s presidency the “Enduring Freedom” operation will go down the chute…

Presumably, the US will fail to do it. What will happen to Karzai and other American protégés in Afghanistan?

They should remember the documentary footage of the evacuation of the Americans and their South Vietnamese allies from Seoul – there were clusters of them hanging on the helicopters flying away from that place.

Tags: Afghanistan    Obama