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How Complex Is the Situation In Afghanistan?

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I've always seen everyone paint all of the various forces in Afghanistan fighting against NATO/American troops as "the Talib'an". This practice is very common in the western media, as well. However, this is very far from the truth; the reality is, as always, much more complex. I think this article by Juan Cole is a good example of how complex and nuanced the reality actually is:


7 NATO Troops Killed; as Karzai is Said to Dicker with Insurgents; and Panetta Scoffs Taliban Rejoice in McChrystal Firing

Radio Azadi reports that from early Sunday morning in the Marawara District of Kunar Province, a vigorous firefight has been pursued by the Taliban on the one hand and on the other, joint NATO and Afghanistan National Army troops. At least three NATO troops were killed, including 2 Americans, in the fighting.


Those tribesmen who take up arms against NATO and the central government are termed ‘Taliban’ in the Western press. But the major Muslim fundamentalist guerrilla group in Kunar Province is the Hizb-i Islami of old-time Reagan-era ‘freedom fighter’ Gulbuddin Hikmatyar. Hikmatyar has been talking about negotiating a peace with Karzai. In March, his forces fought a battle with rival Taliban that left dozens dead. Hikmatyar offers himself as a mediator with the militants who can pave a path to peace and reconciliation if only the US and NATO will agree to get out of his country.


Just Saturday, a battle broke out between Taliban and Hizb-i Islami militants in Maidan Wardak province, southwest of Kunar, on the other side of Kabul.


Not only is President Hamid Karzai reputedly talking to Hikmatyar, but Aljazeera reported Sunday that he has had secret meetings with Siraj Haqqani. The son of old-time Reagan-era Mujahidin leader Jalaluddin Haqqani, Siraj is based in North Waziristan and raids into Afghanistan. Western intelligence considers the Haqqani network closest to the Arab al-Qaeda cells in Pakistan’s tribal belt. If it is true that Karzai is talking to Haqqani (he denies it), this step is taken to signal that he may be tacking toward Pakistan and its Inter-Services Intelligence, and away from the embrace of the United States.


On ABC This Week with Jake Tapper, CIA director Leon Panetta threw cold water all over the idea of talks and reconciliation:
‘ the bottom line is that we really have not seen any firm intelligence that there’s a real interest among the Taliban, the militant allies of Al Qaida, Al Qaida itself, the Haqqanis, TTP, other militant groups. We have seen no evidence that they are truly interested in reconciliation, where they would surrender their arms, where they would denounce Al Qaida, where they would really try to become part of that society.’
I think Panetta is being too categorical in his skepticism. There are other reasons for tribal factions to dicker with bigger, stronger forces than fear of annihilation (indeed, given Pashtun codes of honor, they could hardly parley when their situation was truly perilous). For instance, there is Hikmatyar’s feud with the Taliban, which may have brought him closer to compromise with Karzai.


As if to underline Panetta’s skepticism, however, the Taliban leader in Kunar Province, Obaid al-Rahman, had said this weekend that he and other Taliban were delighted with the firing of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, since it would take his successor, Gen. David Petraeus, time to get used to Taliban tactics. In the meantime they could regroup. He promised a dramatic attack soon. Obaid al-Rahman also offered Gen. Petraeus a praetorian “Guard of Death.” It is therefore no surprise that fighting broke out in Marawara between US/NATO forces and the Taliban.





In the US, Afghanistan is mostly discussed abstractly, leading to categorical judgments like that of Panetta. But let us look at the concrete situation. Marawara in southeast Afghanistan, abutting Pakistan’s Bajaur Tribal Agency, is just about at the end of the world. Here are its social statistics [pdf]. It is 86 percent either mountainous or semi-mountainous. Its 400,000 people are 96 percent rural. It still has thousands of pastoral nomads. The people of Marawara widely lack access to clean drinking water or sanitary toilets. Some 47% of the men are literate (a remarkably high number, probably attesting to the efficacy of Qur’an schools) but only 18% of women are. The majority is Pashtuns, but it has a small Nuristani minority. Nuristanis, called ‘Kafirs’ until their conversion to Islam in 1896, speak an Indo-Iranian language very different from Persian or Punjabi, which is often considered a third branch of this language family, and likely they are descendants of a very ancient wave of Indo-European migration into Central Asia that never went south into India. The major tribes of Marawara, mostly Pashtuns, include the Safi, Salarzai, Mashwani, Mamon, and Shinwari.





Districts such as Marawara are in the midst of an internal fight. Some of the village ares and the few urban people support the government of Hamid Karzai and his NATO allies. A provincial reconstruction team visited the district in January and spoke of progress in building a district government center (where Afghanistan National Army troops would also be stationed) and in fighting malnutrition and malaria.


But many young tribesmen do not want the government center or the Kabul troops, or the foreign armies. Government programs do not help everyone equally. Perhaps they have even been disadvantaged by changes wrought from the outside. For them, independence and Muslim fundamentalism and local interests are supreme, and they will not rest until the foreign troops (and they may well count the disproportionately Tajik national army in that category) are out.


It is not clear from the vague Persian and English press reports whether Sunday’s battle was with Taliban, or Hizb-i Islami, or just tribal youth who don’t like foreigners. If NATO is fighting Taliban in Marawara, they may be making friends thereby with Hizb-i Islami, which had been in the past the second-largest insurgent group, responsible for significant losses of life among US and NATO soldiers.


Of course, that issue raises the question of which faction of Taliban is active in Marawara. Is it the Old Taliban of Mulla Omar (which tends to have its power bases in the West) or the Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan), based over the border in Pakistan?


In any case, two American soldiers died fighting in Marawara on Sunday, along with another NATO soldier. The Western press just said it was in eastern Afghanistan. Maybe they mentioned Kunar. Not all did. We aren’t told the details of these things. Which tribesmen fought? Under whose banner, exactly? Is the fighting a cause of despair, as we’re losing troops at the end of the world? Or were they maneuvering Hikmatyar and Hizb-i-Islami into an alliance with Karzai that seems promising as a way of ending the war?


In other news, Taliban set a roadside bomb in the northern Faryab Province that killed 4 Norwegian troops on Sunday, as well. That datum is actually quite weird. Faryab is mostly Uzbek, with a Tajik minority, and Pashtuns there are only 12 percent of the population. But likely it was a cell of radicalized Pashtuns that carried out the bombing. Faryab is a relatively calm, safe, posting. It is a little worrying that the Taliban are developing such long arms that they can reach into it and hit NATO, way up there.


Marawara. Faryab. The words mean nothing to most Westerners, even as they insist that their security depends on what happens in those fabulous and distant places. But if we do not even know what the fighting is about in those places, we do not understand the circumstances in which young men of NATO gave their lives Monday. And since in a democracy, young men fight on behalf of we the people, we have an obligation to know more about the hells into which we send them before we conclude that we did the right thing.


SOURCE
 

1069

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Its 400,000 people are 96 percent rural.
I'm pretty sure there are a lot more than 400,000 people in Afghanistan.
There are 140,000 US and allied troops over there.
 

Lord Tammerlain

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I'm pretty sure there are a lot more than 400,000 people in Afghanistan.
There are 140,000 US and allied troops over there.
Yes there are and the article never said there was only 400 000 people in Afghanistan

It said

Marawara in southeast Afghanistan, abutting Pakistan’s Bajaur Tribal Agency, is just about at the end of the world. Here are its social statistics [pdf]. It is 86 percent either mountainous or semi-mountainous. Its 400,000 people are 96 percent rural. It still has thousands of pastoral nomads
Which means that there are an estimated 400 000 people in Marawara. Afghanistan's population is estimated to be about 24 million. Suprisingly high to me considering the decades of war and that its population war around 14-15 million in the 80's
 

1069

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Yes there are and the article never said there was only 400 000 people in Afghanistan

It said
Oh, good. I was gonna say... :thinking

Which means that there are an estimated 400 000 people in Marawara. Afghanistan's population is estimated to be about 24 million. Suprisingly high to me considering the decades of war and that its population war around 14-15 million in the 80's
Yeah, but almost 50% of their population's under 14.
Yet another reason that time is of the essence if we're going to have any success imposing our will upon them over there.
In another five or ten years, it will be much, much more difficult.
 
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Lord Tammerlain

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Oh, good. I was gonna say... :thinking



Yeah, but almost 50% of their population's under 14.
Yet another reason that time is of the essence if we're going to have any success imposing our will upon them over there.
In another five or ten years, it will be much, much more difficult.

I doubt the US will have any success in imposing will on Afghanistan. No one has subdued the Pashtuns, and no one will withouth a dramatic change in Pashtun culture. That will take decades and very strong economic development. Not something I believe anyone wants to fund out of their pockets

Nobody has subdued the Pashtuns in over 2000 years, the most anyone has ever done is say they control them, but has instead left them alone, provided they did the same. T
 

jambalaya

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We need to let it go. Yes, it is very complex. I don't see us gaining a permanent foothold. The only way to win a war is to bomb the **** out of the populace and kill a lot of citizens to get to the Taliban or whomever else your are fighting. Nobody has the stomach for it and really what would we gain by it.
 
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We need to let it go. Yes, it is very complex. I don't see us gaining a permanent foothold. The only way to win a war is to bomb the **** out of the populace and kill a lot of citizens to get to the Taliban or whomever else your are fighting. Nobody has the stomach for it and really what would we gain by it.
Well what would be gained, is the securing of a region which is determined to destroy us; which the assertion "no one has the stomach for it..." doesn't bode well, for 'us' or our sovereign existence.

Ya see, we're not the aggressor. So we either kick their ass or they kick ours. No gray area... No ties... Pick a side and stay on it.
 

jambalaya

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Well what would be gained, is the securing of a region which is determined to destroy us; which the assertion "no one has the stomach for it..." doesn't bode well, for 'us' or our sovereign existence.

Ya see, we're not the aggressor. So we either kick their ass or they kick ours. No gray area... No ties... Pick a side and stay on it.
We are not truly kicking ass and that is the problem. Change the rules of engagement and maybe we can accomplish more. If establishing a holding pattern to keep the region relatively secure it the goal then I guess we are winning. The government tries to make it seem that the ultimate goal of winning over the people of Afghanistan is doable. I say no.
 
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Well what would be gained, is the securing of a region which is determined to destroy us;
lolol

How are any Afghanis a threat to the US exactly?

Ya see, we're not the aggressor.
Yes, the US invaded Afghanistan without provocation. That is being an aggressor. The fact that Iraq and Afghanistan were "pre-emptive" invasions is common knowledge.
 
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lolol

How are any Afghanis a threat to the US exactly?
Well there's the whole 9-11 thing... Wherein the Afghan government; OKA: The Taliban... Which just happens to be the contesting force in Afghanistan, which is determined to regain control and return to governance in Afghanistan, despite the US having removed them by force, after they had allowed Al Qaeda to use Afghanistan as a base of operations, for the purposes of plotting, planning and executing the aforementioned sneak attack upon the US, resulting in the murder of 3000 innocents on 9-11 and tens of thousands killed in the prosecution of the war that resulted, since.

For those that have forgotten... Here's a reminder of why the US is in Afghanistan.



Yes, the US invaded Afghanistan without provocation.
Hmm... without Provocation ya say?

Again:




Now the US is in Afghanistan, because the Taliban which governed Afghanistan at the time, refused to surrender the Al Qaeda terrorist which they were harboring, who perpetrated that attack.

Now perhaps you're not familiar witht he concept of 'provocation': Provocation: Reason for attacking somebody; criminal law something that incites somebody to attack somebody else


Now, just to be sure ya grasp it:

 
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Lol, first, the agents that carried out the 9/11 attacks weren't even Afghan.

Second, the Talib'an agreed to handing Bin Laden over in 1998 and 2001. (which of course completely disproves your claim that "the Taliban which governed Afghanistan at the time, refused to surrender the Al Qaeda terrorist which they were harboring, who perpetrated that attack.")

Third, Al Qa'ida isn't even nationally bound to Afghanistan. As a nationless network they can "train" in any country. They operate in probably dozens of countries worldwide. In fact, this is proven by the fact that nearly all suspected or convicted terrorists have come from a multitude of other countries. In other words, they don't need Afghanistan or the Talib'an.

Fourth, a military occupation of a single country is completely nonsensical for dealing with a loose network of cells which are almost or completely isolated from one another operating internationally with no national affiliations.

Fifth, the military occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan has created a lot of anti-western/anti-US/anti-occupation sentiments to the extent that the majority of the groups in both countries fighting against occupying forces are local, national or regional groups that have absolutely no ability or desire to attack the United States.

Sixth, the military occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan has proven to be a complete failure in dealing with even the groups fighting against the occupying forces. The occupations will continue to be failures and occupying troops, innocent civilians and resistance fighters will continue to die until all occupying forces are removed.


But keep posting photos of the twin towers, it just makes you look silly; this isn't 2003 and nobody believes that crap anymore.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YOh-rpvjYg

:D
 
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jambalaya

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I was all in when came to the initial mission in Afghanistan: Find and kill Bin Laden, let groups like the Taliban know that they can't just sit back in their caves and plan attacks on the western world with no consequences. We will come and get you. The second goal has been long accomplished and sadly the first one was not. After that we have to ask ourselves: What then? Sure, there are some secondary goals that we can accomplish but is the cost worth it? Really, really articulate it to the American people. I don't think the military or either administration has done that. I am not one who is against military force. I just need more than a vague idea of what is going on.
 

BmanMcfly

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Well there's the whole 9-11 thing... Wherein the Afghan government; OKA: The Taliban... Which just happens to be the contesting force in Afghanistan, which is determined to regain control and return to governance in Afghanistan, despite the US having removed them by force, after they had allowed Al Qaeda to use Afghanistan as a base of operations, for the purposes of plotting, planning and executing the aforementioned sneak attack upon the US, resulting in the murder of 3000 innocents on 9-11 and tens of thousands killed in the prosecution of the war that resulted, since.

For those that have forgotten... Here's a reminder of why the US is in Afghanistan.
No, Khayembii Communique covered a good portion of it... but here's a bigger reason why we are in afghanistan :


(BTW, 2007 was the next record, and 2008 beat that record)

Note 2001 when the Taliban banished the cultivation of opium.

Do you want me to link the images of soldiers guarding opium fields?? How about Heraldo Rivera talking to the Commander in afghanistan who says "we help them grow the opium, we don't like it but if we don't do it the taliban will get the money."??

How many sources and images will you need?
 

Deuce

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Afghanistan is more complicated than chemistry but less complicated than particle physics.
 
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Well there's the whole 9-11 thing... Wherein the Afghan government; OKA: The Taliban... Which just happens to be the contesting force in Afghanistan, which is determined to regain control and return to governance in Afghanistan, despite the US having removed them by force, after they had allowed Al Qaeda to use Afghanistan as a base of operations, for the purposes of plotting, planning and executing the aforementioned sneak attack upon the US, resulting in the murder of 3000 innocents on 9-11 and tens of thousands killed in the prosecution of the war that resulted, since.

For those that have forgotten... Here's a reminder of why the US is in Afghanistan.





Hmm... without Provocation ya say?

Again:




Now the US is in Afghanistan, because the Taliban which governed Afghanistan at the time, refused to surrender the Al Qaeda terrorist which they were harboring, who perpetrated that attack.

Now perhaps you're not familiar witht he concept of 'provocation': Provocation: Reason for attacking somebody; criminal law something that incites somebody to attack somebody else


Now, just to be sure ya grasp it:





Lol, first, the agents that carried out the 9/11 attacks weren't even Afghan.
An interesting fact... Which would be a strikingly good point, IF... anyone on this board had argued that such was the case.

Sadly, for your point, it exist for no other purpose than obscurance... it serves purely as a fraudulence; it serves only as distraction.

The Agents that carried out 9-11 were organized by the planners which were cloistered in Afghanistan, protected by the government thereof... The Taliban.

Second, the Talib'an agreed to handing Bin Laden over in 1998 and 2001.
This is a falsity... it is a deceit. Which proves once again that the whole of the Socialist existence, serves only deciet and fraud... It's who and what they are.


Third, Al Qa'ida isn't even nationally bound to Afghanistan.
Again, the Progressive comes to offer up a fraudulent obscurance... No one has even suggested that Al Qaeda is bound to Afghanistan... only that the former government of Afghanistan refused to turn over those who were responsibile for the sneak attack upon the innocent citizenry of the United States which resulted in the murder of thousands.


Fourth, a military occupation of a single country is completely nonsensical for dealing with a loose network of cells which are almost or completely isolated from one another operating internationally with no national affiliations.
The Occupation if Afghanistan is designed purely as a means of preventing the Taliban from again finding power... to provide Afghanistan with the CHANCE to find itself the means towards self-government.


Fifth, the military occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan has created a lot of anti-western/anti-US/anti-occupation sentiments to the extent that the majority of the groups in both countries fighting against occupying forces are local, national or regional groups that have absolutely no ability or desire to attack the United States.
False... a fact which is born out by this, your own attack on America; despite your lowly means.

Sixth, the military occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan has proven to be a complete failure in dealing with even the groups fighting against the occupying forces.
A fine baseless assertion... And a beautiful example of the desperation to undermine the American fight against Leftist tyranny.

In truth, Iraq is no longer governed by the Baath Socialists... lead by one President Hussein. Ironically, the US is presently taking a bath at the hands of President Hussein, the Socialist; proving that in truth, the good Lord has a raucus since of humor.

But keep posting photos of the twin towers, it just makes you look silly; this isn't 2003 and nobody believes that crap anymore.
So no one believes the immutable truth? How exactly is that supposed to be relevant to anything?

Are you actually trying to imply that the truth is affected by a 'belief' in it?

If so, then I've some bad news... and you may want to brace yourself; there is no actual or even potential correlation between the validity inherent in the truth... and the number of people who are said to believe in them.


It's yet another delicious irony, that the stiff backed communists are quite content to rest their argument in the credibility intrinsic in "The Family Guy"; which serves reason, given that the Soul of the Leftist Movement today is best represented by "The Comedy Channel".

But as thorough as this refutation was, I want you to know that it's clear to me, that you're doing the very BEST you can... God bless ya.
 

Shayah

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Hekmatyar is a longtime Afghan warlord who has fought both for and against virtually every major group in Afghanistan. He is an ex-communist who joined the Islamist movement and was trained by the ISI while in exile in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province. He is virulently anti-Western and is currently heavily involved in Afghan opium/heroin operations. He is brutal and vicious, and responsible for untold thousands of Afghan deaths. He is well known for executing prisoners by having them lie down in rows to be crushed under tank treads.
 
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