JavaScript Menu, DHTML Menu Powered By Milonic

Media Center

Embassy in the News


Afghan Iraqistan
Insurgents mire U.S. on second front

Sunday, August 20th, 2006

WASHINGTON - Nearly five years after Al Qaeda and its Taliban protectors were supposedly vanquished in Afghanistan in retaliation for the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. and its allies have become bogged down in a growing Iraq-style insurgency.

The Afghan battle zone is derided as "Iraqistan" and "Vietstan" by many G.I.s - a wakeup call to those who deny the war is in danger of being lost.

"If you fail in Afghanistan, we have lost the war against terror," Said Jawad, the country's ambassador in Washington, told the Daily News.

Jawad has delivered that message to President Bush, but it's not clear if the White House is listening.

Osama Bin Laden's strategy to bleed America in a two-front war is no secret.

"The war in Iraq is very fierce, and the operations in Afghanistan are continuously growing, thanks unto Allah," Bin Laden said in a January message aimed at the U.S. Both fronts "show an increased number of your dead and injured [and] material losses that are enormous."

U.S. commanders in Afghanistan once claimed they had broken the extremists.

But Taliban forces are massing in greater numbers to attack U.S. and NATO troops in southern Afghanistan, while Al Qaeda-backed tribal militias in Pakistan launch attacks over the border. Suicide bombings in Kabul are increasingly common. So far this year, 69 Americans have been killed.

Why has it gotten so bad?

"Countries who made a commitment to Afghan reconstruction are not coming forward with their pledges," said Shir Kosti, a former top aide to the governor of Khowst Province.

"The security has deteriorated" as a result of broken promises, Jawad said. If Kabul gets more money, "There will be no need for your sons and daughters to be killed in Afghanistan."

Afghanistan has received just $12 billion for development since 9/11 and needs $5 billion a year to just scrape by, Jawad contended. In contrast, the U.S. has spent about $21 billion on development in Iraq over the last three years.

A senior U.S. official who has served in Kabul said, "It's changing much for the worse" because of bungled reconstruction efforts - and a record poppy crop that provides 89% of the world's heroin supply.

"We've built roads for farmers to transport produce, but there is no infrastructure to support commerce," the official said. "It's a narco-economy. The fear is that it'll become a narco-state."

The gloves are coming off though, particularly regarding Al Qaeda militants who strike inside Afghanistan and then scurry back across the border with Pakistan, nominally a U.S. ally.

Red tape has long hindered U.S. operators from chasing Al Qaeda ambushers into Pakistan, but diplomatic niceties are starting to fray.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has bluntly called Pakistan a "safe haven," and this year the CIA has launched missile strikes from unmanned drones against targets inside Pakistan.

Some experts criticized the U.S. for turning over the south of Afghanistan to NATO earlier this year. But the 20,000 U.S. special operations forces there can now turn east and concentrate on the international terrorists waging war along the Pakistani border.

NATO Commander Gen. James Jones calls clashes with Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters "a test of wills" that the coalition is addressing with more firepower than it uses in Iraq.

Since June, the U.S. claims to have killed or captured 1,100 extremists in what White House Press Secretary Tony Snow calls "lopsided engagements."

Such massive firepower, however, has also caused angry complaints from Afghans, including President Hamid Karzai, that the U.S. has carelessly slaughtered dozens of innocents.

Karzai complained again last week when an errant American bomb killed a dozen Afghan policemen.

Yet one Army commander, Lt. Col. David Bushey, insisted recently that record body counts aren't America's goal.

"We didn't come over here to capture and kill people. We came here to make Afghanistan a true democracy," he said.

Home | Contact Us | Sitemap © 2006 Embassy of Afghanistan and GlobeScope Inc. All Rights Reserved.