STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
NATO Preps Civil War in Afghanistan
By Staff News & Analysis - October 08, 2012

The big three who can help save Afghanistan … As its forces withdraw, Nato should not be afraid to seek help from Russia, India and Iran, says Shashank Joshi … Exactly 11 years ago, with the wounds of 9/11 still fresh, the United States and Britain invaded Afghanistan. They arrived in anger, collected allies along the way, and grew in ambition. Today that anger has faded, those allies depleted, and their ambition exhausted … There is no easy solution, but Nato should not be afraid to ask for help. – UK Telegraph

Dominant Social Theme: We need help and should ask our friends. We only want peace for Afghanistan.

Free-Market Analysis: According to this UK Telegraph columnist, India, Iran and Russia should be approached about supporting Kabul in its attempts to maintain a centralized government in Afghanistan.

This is nothing more than a recipe for a civil war, however, and is line with other NATO and US efforts to maintain "stability" in the region. What is never mentioned about current efforts and what the mainstream media never probes is the actual composition of the army being set up in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is made up of Pashtuns and other minorities that have been traditionally confrontational. It is the Pashtuns versus all the rest.

Once NATO goes, the Afghan army left behind will be charged with controlling all of Afghanistan. But as it is an army that is made up of tribes that are traditionally adversarial to the Pashtuns, this army has no chance to patrol peacefully throughout the country.

This article mentions nothing about this fundamental problem, though it does give us a larger summary of the war and its apparent winding down. Here's some more …

The campaign is already the longest in American history, far surpassing the Revolutionary and Vietnam wars. Though combat forces are not due to depart for another two years, there is a palpable sense of counting down the clock. Last month, for instance, Nato stopped training Afghan Local Police and abandoned routine joint patrols below battalion level. Why? Because it is hard enough to face a decade-long trickle of casualties at the hands of a shadowy enemy with safe havens in Pakistan, but it's particularly dispiriting to be shot by your own side.

So far this year, 51 Nato troops have been killed at the hands of their Afghan allies, in so-called "green on blue" attacks (compared to 35 last year). A quarter of Britain's casualties and more than a tenth of Nato's have come in this way over the past 10 months. The evaporation of trust in Afghan colleagues cuts at the heart of the war strategy, which was to turn the Afghan National Security Forces into a bulwark against the Taliban.

There is plenty of blame to go round, although the Afghan government must take the greatest share of responsibility. Some of its officials appear to have preferred to stuff their pockets rather than reform.

Around $8 billion in cash was smuggled out of the country last year. When Western diplomats talk about Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, the language often resembles that surrounding earlier generations of feckless and ill-fated American clients, such as Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam or Chiang Kai-shek of the Chinese Nationalists. Diplomats whisper that Karzai is paranoid and impulsive.

But even when he goes, as he must in 2014, the state he bequeaths to his successor will be a predatory and over-centralised mess.

Afghanistan's army will cost around $8 billion annually, but where will this money come from? Sixty-nine per cent of Americans surveyed in March thought the United States should not be at war in Afghanistan at all. Another poll this month showed that 49 per cent wanted immediate withdrawal. European states are mired in their own economic troubles.

The solution, apparently, is to "turn" to India, Iran and Russia to somehow assure the peace in Afghanistan. But there is no peace. And each of these countries would have their own reason for inflaming the Pashtun/Taliban that have fought NATO and the US.

The Russians certainly would have difficulty pacifying the Pashtuns who basically kicked them out several decades ago. Iran is a Shia-based culture and the Pashtuns are Sunnis, though their Sunni religion is somewhat subservient to their larger tribal traditions. India is traditionally seen as a meddler – an interloper – in Afghan affairs.

The largest player in Afghan affairs after NATO winds down its presence in Afghanistan will be Pakistan. Pakistan will no doubt continue to support the Pashtun/Taliban against the Northern Alliance.

But should Pakistan come to believe that the Afghan Pashtuns are gaining too much power in Afghanistan, it might take an adversarial stance as well, backing elements of the Taliban against the Pashtun.

Thus, there are four participants in post-NATO Afghanistan. Any combination of these participants plus the current Afghan army signals more fighting and the danger of a full-fledged civil war. This is the legacy of a decade of fighting.

After Thoughts

Far from making Afghanistan a peaceful country, the legacy of NATO and the US will likely be more bloodshed and economic ruin. Mainstream media – on the West, will not blame such a calamity likely – at least but it should be.

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