Monday, November 12, 2007

The Afghan Fallujah?

Nasim Ferkat at Pajamas Media has an interesting article on the The Problem of Musa Qala. It draws attention to resurgent fighting in an Afghan town after a British ceasefire had been negotiated with the Taliban in 2006. Of particular concern is the town of Musa Qala, which the Taliban have turned into a mini-stronghold.

British attempts to turn Taliban factions to their side is superficially similar to the concept of turning one set of insurgents against the other in Anbar, an effort which has met with some success. The question is why the British have not met the same success so far. Is there a basic problem with the approach or maybe it simply requires time to work? It's an interesting problem to consider.

Nor are the problems with treachery all on the British side. The ABC Blotter says:

Dramatic new video shows how American soldiers in Afghanistan are being set up for deadly ambushes after trying to make peace with village elders in Taliban-controlled areas.

The effort to win the "hearts and minds" of village elders in the Korengal Valley of Kunar Province in Afghanistan has proved to be a dangerous one for U.S. troops, with elders often suspected of tipping Taliban fighters to the soldiers' schedule and whereabouts.

The video to be broadcast tonight on ABC News' "World News With Charles Gibson" and "Nightline" was shot by "Vanity Fair" contributing editor Sebastian Junger and photographer Tim Hetherington embedded with the 2nd Platoon, Battle (B) company of the 173rd Airborne on a joint assignment for ABC News and "Vanity Fair" magazine.


Blogger Garth Farkley said...

A little O/T, I just watched Harry Reid’s “war is lost” speech and Hillary’s “suspension of disbelief” attack on General Petraeus. I picture the three of them starring in this old Monty Python & Holy Grail skit:

CART-MASTER HARRY: Bring out your dead! [clang] Bring out your dead! [clang] Bring out your dead! [clang] Bring out your dead!



GENERAL PETAEUS: I’m not dead!


CUSTOMER HILLARY: Nothing. Here’s your ninepence.

GENERAL PETAEUS: I’m not dead!

CUSTOMER HILLARY: Yes you are! Be quiet!

CART-MASTER HARRY: ‘Ere. He says he’s not dead!




CUSTOMER HILLARY: Well, he will be soon. He’s very ill.

GENERAL PETAEUS: I’m getting better!

CUSTOMER HILLARY: No you’re not. You’ll be stone dead in a moment.

CART-MASTER HARRY: Oh, I can’t take him like that. It’s against regulations.

GENERAL PETAEUS: I don’t want to go on the cart!

CUSTOMER HILLARY: Oh, don’t be such a baby.

CART-MASTER HARRY: I can’t take him.


CUSTOMER HILLARY: Well, do us a favor.


CUSTOMER HILLARY: Well, can you hang around a couple of minutes? He won’t be long.

CART-MASTER HARRY: No, I’ve got to go to the Robinson’s. They’ve lost nine today.

CUSTOMER HILLARY: Well, when’s your next round?


GENERAL PETAEUS: I think I’ll go for a walk.

CUSTOMER HILLARY: You’re not fooling anyone you know. Look, isn’t there something you can do?

GENERAL PETAEUS: [singing] I feel happy … I feel happy.

[CART-MASTER HARRY whops GENERAL PETRAES on the head with a huge club]

CUSTOMER HILLARY: Ah, thanks very much.

11/12/2007 12:34:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

No doubt one problem the Brits are having is the lack of support at home. If they are widely expected to turn tail and run, why would any Afghans ally themselves with them?

This is not a reflection on the brave British troops, but rather the feckless population in formerly-Great Britain.

All the other NATO allies have been sponging off the US military for so long that they can't conceive of fighting for anything themselves.

HANS BINNENDIJK at observes:

KABUL, Afghanistan--The war in Afghanistan is being fought by NATO soldiers near this capital, but it may be lost in the capitals of Europe. Europe's citizenry is tiring of this prolonged and distant conflict, while their governments struggle to maintain NATO solidarity in the face of Taliban advances in Southern Afghanistan and deadly suicide attacks here in Kabul.

More than half of the 53,000 coalition troops deployed to Afghanistan are American. About 41,000 of that coalition total are assigned to NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission; the remaining, mostly American, contingent operates separately under the U.S. Central Command. Together they face an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 active Taliban and other insurgents.

The contribution of America's 36 coalition partners is important, but in many cases it is limited. Most coalition contributions are relatively small; only eight contribute a thousand or more troops. The U.S. and a few key allies such as Britain do most of the fighting. Seven allies join the U.S. in the turbulent southern region while combat operations in the east are also primarily American. Most partners are deployed in the quieter northern and western region. About two thirds of all coalition casualties in Afghanistan are American.

11/12/2007 01:40:00 PM  
Blogger ltcedk said...

Peter Grynch said:
All the other NATO allies have been sponging off the US military for so long that they can't conceive of fighting for anything themselves.

There is a lot of truth here.

I have spent a total of 17 years (5 tours)in Germany & Belgium since - active duty and DoD civilian. I remember the prevailing theory in '68 was that we were here to "keep the Germans down and the Russians out". A corollary was "keep them fat and happy, with something to lose and they will be harmless."
Unfortunately we have done such a good job at the latter - along with our heavy lifting of European defense - that one is today is hard pressed to believe there is anything the Europeans (Old Europe)will fight for. They are beginning to wake up, but much too slowly.

11/13/2007 04:32:00 AM  
Blogger watimebeing said...

While I'm sure we do not know all of the elements of the negotiations, the report leaves the impression that we are negotiating from a rather weak position, inflaming an impression of recklessness and wasted effort.

The Taliban (and AQ if they are present) are no doubt putting a damper on the negotiating efforts, and any successful talks will have to involve more than just a fresh water pipeline, although that is a good place to start, it is not an end point. The tribes are rough and rugged people used to a rough and rugged existence. Motivations to pry them away from the Taliban and AQ are required, and that just as in Al Anbar requires we hold the territory and requires a presence in the village. That it seems to me is the billion dollar question. Whether answered by European or New World forces is of little concern, but finding an answer is vital.

11/13/2007 08:57:00 PM  
Blogger Nasim Fekrat said...

Please correct my second name from Ferkat to Fekrat.

Nasim Fekrat
Kabul, Afghanistan

11/13/2007 11:59:00 PM  

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