American military commanders with the NATO mission in Afghanistan told President Obama’s chief envoy to the region this weekend that they did not have enough troops to do their job, pushed past their limit by Taliban rebels who operate across borders.
The commanders emphasized problems in southern Afghanistan, where Taliban insurgents continue to bombard towns and villages with rockets despite a new influx of American troops, and in eastern Afghanistan, where the father-and-son-led Haqqani network of militants has become the main source of attacks against American troops and their Afghan allies.
The possibility that more troops will be needed in Afghanistan presents the Obama administration with another problem in dealing with a nearly eight-year war that has lost popularity at home, compounded by new questions over the credibility of the Afghan government, which has just held an as-yet inconclusive presidential election beset by complaints of fraud. [continued…]
The main challenger to Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Sunday that he has received “alarming” reports of “widespread rigging” in Thursday’s presidential election by pro-government groups and officials, but he called on supporters to be patient and said he hopes the problem will be resolved through the official election review.
“The initial reports are a big cause of concern, but hopefully we can prevent fraud through legal means,” Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister, said at a news conference. He said his campaign has filed more than 100 complaints of ballot-box stuffing, inflated vote counts and intimidation at the polls by Karzai partisans, often in places where threats from insurgents resulted in low voter turnout.
The allegations of fraud, combined with the slow pace of vote tabulation and the cumbersome process for investigating complaints, are raising political tensions as the nation waits to see whether its second presidential election will produce a result that Afghans can trust. If not, there is concern that voter anger will unleash violence along the ethnic and regional lines that divide this fragmented society. [continued…]