'Stumbling into Chaos: Afghanistan on the Brink' (Senlis Council Report)

Stumbling into chaos: Afghanistan on the Brink / Executive Summary

In September 2006, ‘Senlis Afghanistan’ released a security assessment report detailing the return of the Taliban to Afghanistan, pointing to the increasing hold that the movement has on southern provinces.

Some 14 months later, the security situation has reached crisis proportions. The Taliban has proven itself to be a truly resurgent force. Its ability to establish a presence throughout the country is now proven beyond doubt; research undertaken by Senlis Afghanistan indicates that 54 per cent of Afghanistan’s landmass hosts a permanent Taliban presence, primarily in southern Afghanistan, and is subject to frequent hostile activity by the insurgency.

The insurgency now controls vast swaths of unchallenged territory including rural areas, some district centres, and important road arteries. The Taliban are the de facto governing authority in significant portions of territory in the south, and are starting to control parts of the local economy and key infrastructure such as roads and energy supply. The insurgency also exercises a significant amount of psychological control, gaining more and more political legitimacy in the minds of the Afghan people who have a long history of shifting alliances and regime change.

The depressing conclusion is that, despite the vast injections of international capital flowing into the country, and a universal desire to ‘succeed’ in Afghanistan, the state is once again in serious danger of falling into the hands of the Taliban. Where implemented, international development and reconstruction efforts have been underfunded and failed to have a significant impact on local communities’ living conditions, or improve attitudes towards the Afghan Government and the international community.

The current insurgency, divided into a large poverty-driven ´grassroots´ component and a concentrated group of hardcore militant Islamists, is gaining momentum, further complicating the reconstruction and development process and effectively sabotaging NATO-ISAF’s stabilisation mission in the country.

Of particular concern is the apparent import of tactics perfected in Iraq. The emboldened Taliban insurgency is employing such asymmetric warfare tactics as suicide bombings and roadside bombs, causing numerous casualties both among the civilian population and the international and national security forces.

Increased lawlessness and lack of government control in the border areas with Pakistan are directly and indirectly fuelling the insurgency through the flow of new recruits, a stable financial and operational support base and ideological influence inspired by Al-Qaeda.

‘Stumbling into Chaos: Afghanistan on the Brink’ (Senlis Council Report)


2 thoughts on “'Stumbling into Chaos: Afghanistan on the Brink' (Senlis Council Report)

  1. Senlis Report / Security Recommendations: ‘NATO Plus’n order to start regaining the ‘hearts and minds’ of ordinary Afghans, an expanded, caveat-free ‘NATO Plus’ presence must be established. It is clearly no longer sustainable for the troops of just four core NATO member states – Canada, UK, US and the Netherlands – plus support from such non-NATO countries as Australia and New-Zealand, to engage in active combat against an emboldened and increasingly successful enemy.
    A mandated minimum contribution from member-states
    A proportional level of commitment from every NATO member state is an important benchmark, and would send out a clear message that NATO is a unified entity with the capacity to project itself globally. A force of 80,000 troops – over double the present total – should be achievable within a relatively short time-frame. ..

  2. The war in Afghanistan is being lost. It is best to acknowledge that plainly.
    A survey coming out of Kabul conducted by the Senlis think-tank suggests that 54 per cent of Afghanistan is now in the control of the Taliban. The Foreign Office may dispute the figure but it cannot quarrel with the substance of the findings: armed Taliban checkpoints are increasing in parts of the country. Taliban recruiters have infiltrated refugee camps. Afghan shopkeepers have abandoned many of the arterial routes into Helmand province for fear of Taliban attacks. Rural workers, fleeing Taliban encroachment, are crowding into cities in search of work. All this against a backdrop of a war in which British troops, now in greater numbers in Afghanistan than in Iraq, are engaged in the toughest battles they have experienced since the Second World War.
    More troops are not the answer, despite the pleas from British ministers for our Nato allies to pull their weight. Military occupation was only ever supposed to be security cover for the reconstruction of the country that was promised by the international community but which never materialised….
    But other efforts have to be made. Iran, Russia and India all have to be persuaded to promote a more stable future for their neighbour. And it may be time to stop regarding President Pervez Musharraf as the best friend we’ve got in fighting the Islamic extremism in the western provinces of Pakistan where the Taliban (and British suicide bombers) are nurtured.What all that amounts to is the realisation that our present policies in Afghanistan are not working. It is time for some new ones.http://comment.independent.co.uk/leading_articles/article3182284.ece
    The Afghan government and its Nato allies strongly deny the Senlis version of what is taking place in the country and say the extent of alleged Taliban control – 54 per cent – is a major exaggeration. In particular, British troops in Helmand have, in recent months, recovered territory lost to the Islamist group.
    But senior defence sources say that a lack of frontline combat forces has meant that areas clawed back from the Taliban often cannot be held and have to be retaken after costly and fierce fighting. There is also an acknowledgement that the dangers on the ground have meant that aid efforts are being stymied…
    Yesterday’s Senlis dossier coincided with an Oxfam report saying that Afghanistan is facing a humanitarian crisis in which millions face "severe hardship comparable with sub-Saharan Africa". It highlights the fact that US spending on aid in the country, $4.4bn since 2002, was only a fraction of its military expenditure of $35bn in 2007 alone.
    "As in Iraq, too much aid is absorbed by profits of companies and subcontractors, on non-Afghan resources and on high expatriate salaries and living costs," said the report. "Each full-time expatriate consultant costs up to half a million dollars a year."
    Meanwhile, Louise Arbour, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said civilian casualties caused by military action has reached "alarming levels" this year. "These not only breach international law but are eroding support among the Afghan community for the government and international military presence, as well as public support in contributing states for continued engagement in Afghanistan," she said…http://news.independent.co.uk/world/asia/article3182330.ece

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