Afghanistan

Forostar

Ancient Mariner
I expect no imminent change either. No one does.

@Deano:

Not going back soon?
At least I hope that you have the impression that you contributed something positive out there.
I guess a lot of patience and goodwill (from many people involved) is needed in order to bring that change.

I agree that a lot will depend on the Afghans but the most important thing on this conference is how the other parties will see this matter.

I expect some change of tactics. Some change of plans. Some change of approach.
Some change of ideas. ;)
 

Deano

Ancient Mariner
At this point Foro, I usually go over there for short periods of time 2-3 times a year.... I'm sure I'll do at least one more major deployment sometime in the future.

I feel great for what I've done there as well as most other service members and contractors from all coalition countries and the UN. The main mission is of course to eradicate terrorism in the region but the vast majority of us have also treated it as an excellent opportunity to dispel the myths created about the west that these people have been fed for so long. I have made good friends there and have really enjoyed showing them that most of us are not the evil people we are made out to be. I believe that in the long run, that is what will bring stability to the region. Taliban propaganda is however, a difficult reality to have to fight. We cannot be everywhere at all times and when they have the chance, they swarm in and try to break down all the good will that we build up. Sometimes it works, sometimes not; but when they have the ability to offer instant gratification by one means or another or instill enough fear into the population, that good will can be broken down. These people are just trying to make it through difficult lives and can hardly be blamed for jumping on any opportunity for survival that they get. We'll see, it's going to be a long and difficult road.

I have said this before but I also believe the "westernizing Afghanistan" is not the solution either. A concept that is completely foreign to them should not be shoved down their throats. Compromises will have to be met.
 

Forostar

Ancient Mariner
But do you like it that whole approach might change? You have been part of the old gang, if you know what I mean. ;)
 

Deano

Ancient Mariner
I'm in favor of whatever works. I wish I MADE the decisions but I don't, I just do what I'm told.  :)
 

IronDuke

Ancient Mariner
In the past week or so, Canada has lost four more young men in that stinking rat hole of a country. The total is now 113 Canadians. And then our dumbass Prime Minister went on CNN and admitted that he thinks there is no way to actually defeat the Taliban in that country.

We have troops over there trying to accomplish an objective that is murky at best, while the leaders at home admit that it's an impossible fight. That sounds to me A LOT like the problems the Americans faced in Vietnam.

Added to all this, the Canadian army is near the breaking point in terms of stress, morale, and equipment. It's grosly undermanned and underfunded to accomplish the tasks we have set for them in Afghanistan. The head of the army, General Leslie, has admitted that when the soldiers finally do pull out of Afghanistan, Canada's army won't be ready for any operations of any sort for over one year, due to the time it'll take to recover.

So my opinion on Afghanistan is this: Let's just stop messing with other people's countries.
 

Perun

Academic
Staff member
I disagree. The Afghans can't get their act together, especially not if radicals like the Taleban are messing around there. The real problem is that some countries like Canada are working to the limits of their resources, while others like Germany already get pissed off about sending a handful of planes to take pictures.
 

LooseCannon

Yorktown-class aircraft carrier
Staff member
The Duke and I had this conversation over beers and hockey on New Year's, and my thought is this: when the US ran off to Iraq, they left the coalition forces in Afghanistan with no clear objective.  That time is lost and it makes our task harder.  What is our task?  Not imposing Western values, but perhaps allowing the Muslim population to come to some sort of compromise on their own.  It's not war-winning, it's not quite nation-building...I'd say the job of the coalition is going to become empowering the Afghans to rule themselves, not to submit to being ruled.
 

Forostar

Ancient Mariner
I just read that Iran will come to the confererence in The Hague (31st of March). "We share a long border with Afghanistan, so Afghanistan is a priority to us", said a spokesman.

I am curious how they will contribute, and how the rest will listen. Let everybody show their intent and will to collaborate. I hope this will be a start of a new international era.
 

Perun

Academic
Staff member
One thing is for certain, Iran has a high interest in restoring order to Afghanistan. There are millions of Afghani refugees in Iran, and the Islamic Republic is a natural enemy to the Taleban. As I recall, the two were at the verge of war when the Taleban were still in power.
 

LooseCannon

Yorktown-class aircraft carrier
Staff member
Yes, there were some border skirmishes, too.  I think Iran may be willing to assist in some small ways in Afghanistan; they definitely want to get the refugees out, and would like to have a less hostile government in place.  And they will see it that if they are in the negotiations, they have a better chance of having friends in Kabul.
 

Forostar

Ancient Mariner
My trust in the Pakistan government is decreasing. Again a lot of jurists arrested, freedom of speech weakens, stories about a corrupt president, and more freedom for extremism.
 

IronDuke

Ancient Mariner
Pakistan is an unfortunate creation of the British when they granted Indian independence. Originally the country even including Bangladesh - 1600 km away with no land route.

Just look at how they came up with the name of the country - "the millions of Muslims of PAKISTAN, who live in the five Northern Units of British Raj — Punjab, Afghania (also known as North-West Frontier Province), Kashmir, Sindh, and Balochistan."

The only thing those various groups ever had in common was their Muslim religious heritage. It's therefore quite easy in that country to whip up religious-based nationalism.
 

Perun

Academic
Staff member
IronDuke said:
Pakistan is an unfortunate creation of the British when they granted Indian independence. Originally the country even including Bangladesh - 1600 km away with no land route.

Just look at how they came up with the name of the country - "the millions of Muslims of PAKISTAN, who live in the five Northern Units of British Raj — Punjab, Afghania (also known as North-West Frontier Province), Kashmir, Sindh, and Balochistan."

The only thing those various groups ever had in common was their Muslim religious heritage. It's therefore quite easy in that country to whip up religious-based nationalism.
Hmmm... no, I think you are oversimplifying this a bit too much. First of all, the political entity of Pakistan is not a creation of the British, but of the Indians, Muslims and Hindus alike.
As for Bangladesh, no argument there, it's a fucked up mess that never should have happened. A hundred million people crammed in a territory smaller than Florida, mostly consisting of swampland below sea level is a disaster.

But Pakistan? It could work if handled the right way. First of all, the country -the fertile Indus Valley- is capable of sustaining a large population, even one that is so unproportionally big as that of Pakistan.
I have lived in Pakistan myself, and my observation was later confirmed by other people who have been there. There is no country that has so many ordinary, civilian people displaying the national flag as Pakistan. The overwhelming majority of Pakistanis is made up of rabid nationalists. Pakistan is not only defined by its Muslim religion, but also by its Indian tradition and its hostility towards the Republic of India. Although it is true that there are big elements of Balochis and Pashtunes in Pakistan, the vast majority of the population -that, which resides in huge cities like Karachi, Lahore, Multan, Hyderabad, Rawalpindi and whatnot- are defined as, and define themselves as, Pakistani, even if they only speak Urdu and English (the official languages) as a second language. The element of Islamism is carried to Pakistan mostly by Afghani refugees who obviously poured into the country after the 1979 Soviet invasion.
So the majority of the population is no threat to the stability of the country, rather the opposite. They have in several wars against India proven that they are ready to defend their country till the last.
The Balochis in the southwest aren't a major problem either. They are mostly left alone by the government, and in turn leave everybody else alone as well.
The major problem, and that is indeed the fault of the British, are the Pashtunes. The British declared a random border back in the 19th century that went straight through Pashto territory. So a good number of Pahstunes are living in Pakistan today (mostly centred around Peshawar), and they are indeed hostile to the Pakistani state. No wonder either- Afghanistan is the Pashto state (Afghani is in fact the Persian word for Pashto). And that is why Pakistan is so heavily interested in peace and stability in Afghanistan. When the -nationalist Pashto- Taleban took over, Pakistan immediately allied with them even though the Pakistani government has always loathed radical Islamism. And when it became apparent that the NATO would kick the Taleban out, Pakistan allied with them. Pakistan will do whatever is necessary to maintain stability in Afghanistan -and keep it under Pashto control!- to contain Pashto threats in its own territory. I also think you shouldn't underestimate Pakistan's capabilities. Although it is a very poor country when measured by per capita income, Pakistan is armed to the teeth, and has a huge, loyal population (which is essentially what differs it from Afghanistan).
 

IronDuke

Ancient Mariner
Of course, Per, I'm not pinning this all on the crazy improbability of the existence of a country like Pakistan. I just meant to suggest that this was a symptom and exemplar of how that country is basically a basket case.

That such a disparate amalgam of ethnic groups have formned a comparatively prosperous and advanced society since the end of the Raj is actually a testament to the brilliance of the citizens.
 

Perun

Academic
Staff member
I didn't mean to discredit you mate, I just tried to point out that whenever dealing with anything in this crazy world, the background is different.

BTW, Prisoner of Maiden... thanks mate, I appreciate it. Coming from somebody with ties to that region (didn't you say you're Sikh somewhere?) that means a lot :)
 

Forostar

Ancient Mariner
More about the conference:
73 countries and 9 organizations (a.o. the UN, NATO, the EU, the IMF and the Islamic Observation Center) got an invitation.

The country list mentions all neighbours of Afghanistan, but also Latin-American countries, Gulf states, Libya and Iceland. Israel and Syria are not invited.

The conference will be lead by Afghanistan, the UN and the Netherlands.
Host: Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Verhagen.
 

Perun

Academic
Staff member
Germany defends Afghan air strike amid reports of 125 casualties

Friday's fatal air strike by NATO in Afghanistan's Kunduz province may have killed as many as 125 people, amongst them civilians. The strike ordered by a German commander has prompted mounting disquiet among EU leaders.


According to a report by the Washington Post newspaper, a NATO fact-finding team on the ground in Kunduz has estimated that as many as 125 people have been killed in the airstrikes on Friday. At least two dozen of them reportedly were civilians.

The paper also alleges that the German commander had ordered the air strike based on intelligence from only one Afghan informant. Using only one single source would be a violation of NATO rules aimed at reducing civilian casualties.

ISAF spokesman General Eric Tremblay rejected the claims that an investigation into the air strike had found it was ordered in breach of NATO rules.



Tremblay told reporters that NATO investigators were "on the ground" in northern Kunduz province where the bombing took place on Friday to "talk to the patients, talk to the villagers, to local authorities, to get some information," but had not yet reported any findings. Nor had ISAF come up with a definitive death toll, he said.

Local Afghan officials earlier said the raid had killed scores of people, mainly armed Taliban fighters, but also six civilians, and left numerous others wounded.

The officials said Sunday that a total of 56 people died in the air strike – 54 in the air strike and two, a father and son, who were killed earlier by insurgents.

German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung has defended the air strike, saying it had been aimed at two hijacked fuel tankers which the Taliban could have driven toward Kunduz city six kilometers away to attack a large German base.

Jung told the German Bild am Sonntag newspaper that the Bundeswehr had clear indications of a pending attack. "Therefore I regard the decision of the German commander's on location as correct."

"The air strike was absolutely necessary," Jung added. "I can not comprehend how some can so quickly criticise the military action without knowing what the situation was or the background information."

Germany has some 4,200 troops stationed mainly to northern Afghanistan. Opinion polls show two-thirds of Germans oppose the mission.

A visiting reporter of the German DPA press agency quoted residents of Yauoubi village as saying that many had rushed to the tankers with containers to get free fuel after the hijacked trucks got stuck in river mud. He had counted 60 fresh graves in the area.
(More in the link)

What the article does not mention is that the Bundeswehr is under heavy flak from German groups and parties - even such that support the mission - for their information policy, criticising that it only issued a 16-line report on the attack. Also a major issue in German analysis is that this attack occurred just after the NATO had changed its policy to dispense with air strikes as much as possible to minimise civilian harm.
 

Forostar

Ancient Mariner
Yep. When NATO kills a couple of Taliban, but also 2 civilians, then 20 new people will join the Taliban.
 
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