A somber warning on Afghanistan

A somber warning on Afghanistan

Western powers now in Afghanistan run the risk of suffering the fate of the Soviet Union there if they cannot halt the growing insurgency and an Afghan perception that they are foreign invaders, according to Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former U.S. national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter.

In a speech opening a weekend gathering of military and foreign policy experts, Mr. Brzezinski, who was national security adviser when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in late 1979, endorsed a British and German call, backed by France, for a new international conference on the country. He also set the tone for a weekend of somber assessments of the situation.

He noted that it took about 300 U.S. Special Forces — fighting with Northern Alliance troops — to overthrow Taliban rule after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.

Now, however, with about 100,000 U.S. and allied troops in Afghanistan, those forces are increasingly perceived as foreign invaders, much as the Soviet troops were from the start, Mr. Brzezinski said. [continued…]

In Kandahar, a Taliban on the rise

The slow and quiet fall of Kandahar, the country’s second-largest city, poses a complex new challenge for the NATO effort to stabilize Afghanistan. It is factoring prominently into discussions between Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the overall U.S. and NATO commander, and his advisers about how many more troops to seek from Washington.

“Kandahar is at the top of the list,” one senior U.S. military official in Afghanistan said. “We simply do not have enough resources to address the challenges there.”

Kandahar in many ways is a microcosm of the challenges the United States faces in stabilizing Afghanistan. The city is filled with ineffective government officials and police officers whom the governor calls looters and kidnappers. Unemployment is rampant. Municipal services are nonexistent. Reconstruction projects have not changed many lives. A lack of NATO forces allowed militants free rein. [continued…]

Are US taxpayers funding the Taliban?

The United States Agency for International Development has opened an investigation into allegations that its funds for road and bridge construction in Afghanistan are ending up in the hands of the Taliban, through a protection racket for contractors.

And House Foreign Affairs Committee member, Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.) vowed to hold hearings on the issue in the fall, saying: “The idea that American taxpayer dollars are ending up with the Taliban is a case for grave concern.”

U.S. officials confirmed that the preliminary investigation and the proposed hearings were sparked by a GlobalPost special report on the funding of the Taliban last month that uncovered a process that has been an open secret in Afghanistan for years among those in international aid organizations.

The report exposed that the Taliban takes a percentage of the billions of dollars in aid from U.S. and other international coalition members that goes to large organizations and their subcontractors for development projects, in exchange for protection in remote areas controlled by the insurgency. [continued…]

McChrystal: No major al-Qaida signs in Afghanistan

The top commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan said Friday he sees no signs of a major al-Qaida presence in the country, but says the terror group still maintains close links to insurgents. [continued…]

Bin Laden calls Obama ‘powerless’ in Afghan war

Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden described President Barack Obama as “powerless” to stop the war in Afghanistan and threatened to step up guerrilla warfare there in a new audiotape released to mark the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States.

In the 11-minute tape, addressed to the American people, bin Laden said Obama is only following the warlike policies of his predecessor George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney and he urged Americans to “liberate” themselves from the influence of “neo-conservatives and the Israeli lobby.”

The tape was posted on Islamic militant Web sites two days after the eighth anniversary of the 2001 suicide plane hijackings. The terror leader usually addresses Americans in a message timed around the date of the attacks, which sparked the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan the same year, and then in Iraq two years later.

Bin Laden said Americans had failed to understand that al-Qaida carried out the attacks in retaliation for U.S. support for Israel. If America reconsiders its alliance with the Jewish state, al-Qaida will respond on “sound and just bases.” [continued…]

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