Almost half of Afghanistan is now too dangerous for aid workers to operate in, a leaked UN map seen by The Times shows.
In the past two years most foreign and Afghan staff have withdrawn from the southern half of the country, abandoning or scaling back development projects in rural areas and confining themselves to the cities or the less risky north. The pullback compounds the problems of the Government in Kabul, which has struggled to extend its authority to the regions and provinces, which are increasingly lawless or Taleban controlled.
Development has always been touted as a key factor in Western efforts to win over Afghans and bolster support for President Karzai but in the past six years little has been done on the ground in the critical south and east.
The failure to help ordinary Afghans or to rebuild areas damaged by fighting in provinces such as Helmand has caused huge resentment and is exploited by Taleban propaganda…
Britain has sleepwalked into a fierce military engagement in Helmand province in Afghanistan, blind to the strategic consequences of doing so. When we first deployed troops in the province, the Defence Secretary at the time said he hoped they would be out without firing a shot. Since then, our troops have had to be reinforced and now find themselves holding the line between the Kabul Government and the Taleban.
The British Army is fighting a war on two fronts with resources depleted by defence cuts. Not surprisingly, the military chiefs decided something had to give and the powers that be chose Iraq. The Iraq war is unpopular at home and the pressure for more troops and equipment in Afghanistan grows daily. Afghanistan v Iraq: its a no brainer. Or is it?…
Governmental corruption in Afghanistan has become endemic and bribes to secure police and administrative positions along provincial drug routes is an established procedure.
The British public would be up in arms if they knew that the district appointments in the south for which British soldiers are dying are there just to protect drug routes, said one analyst. Western and Afghan officials are also alarmed at how narco-kleptocracy has extended its grip around President Karzai, a figure regarded by some as increasingly isolated by a cadre of corrupt officials….