Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Withdrawal from Afghanistan ‘Could’ Reduce Western Terror Threat

A study, released by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), has stated that a less visible security presence in Afghanistan could reduce extremist attacks - but it would appear that Britain and America will both have to pay between £4.7 and £8billion a year for over a decade to keep Afghanistan from sliding back into chaos.
The study, named ‘Afghanistan: To 2015 and Beyond’ comes at the end of two years of research by IISS military and intelligence experts who have studied the probable repercussions of what ‘will happen’ when Western troops withdraw in 2014. The study paints a disturbing picture of the two most probable outcomes where either ‘slow uneven progress’ or ‘a relatively rapid descent into disorder’ will eventually occur.

An expert at the IISS and former Deputy Head of MI6, Nigel Inkster, states that ‘a reduced US presence, whether the military in Afghanistan or CIA in Pakistan, represents the best option for lowering the temperature and creating circumstances in which the countries of the region can best address the threats they face from militancy.’ He goes on to warn that ‘policymakers will have to assume a different calculus of risk in respect of terrorism and to accept that some residual threat will continue to emanate from Afghanistan and Pakistan for the foreseeable future, particularly towards the US.’

As part of the study the IISS provides an assessment on the survivability of the Karzai Government as opposed to the violent end of the Najibullah regime three years after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989. The general conclusion is that Kabul would prevail ‘because the central government has probably amassed sufficient power to ensure that the centre will hold.’

The report highlights that despite progress in the south of the country the eastern part of Afghanistan ‘is likely to be an ungoverned territory up to 2014 and beyond’. ‘It is further considered that ‘with control contested between warlord factions it will become a base for attacks on Government controlled territory and a recruiting ground for militants, as well as an area of increasing opium cultivation.’ It is also considered that the area could ‘potentially be a base for international terrorist groups.’

The study also indicated that only 13 of the Afghan Army’s 20 brigades are ‘semi capable’ with the possibility of ‘getting the majority of them acting independently by the end of 2014,’ a task that will probably prove to be a ‘race against the clock for NATO’s trainers.’ Even if the NATO trainers succeed in ‘their race against time’ it is considered Afghan security forces could well split along ethnic lines.

According to Nigel Inkster ‘the key to any peace process is the position of the Pakistani supported Haqqani network of militants that control the eastern approaches to Kabul.’ He described the head of the network, Jalaluddin Haqqani, as ‘al-Qaeda’s main patron’ but added there was ‘little evidence to indicate what Haqqani wants to achieve and what, if anything, the group might regard as an acceptable resolution of the current conflict short of all-out victory.’

Photo © 2011 isafmedia, Flick

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