07/27/2009, 00.00
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Kabul gets truce with Taliban, why is the West losing the war

In Badghis province Taliban agree to withdraw from key areas and to not to attack polling stations on 20 August elections. Sources tell AsiaNews that Western nations must reflect on why they are losing the war.
Kabul (AsiaNews) –The Afghan government has agreed a truce with Taliban insurgents in the north-western province of Badghis ahead of elections next month. Local sources describe to AsiaNews the difficult situation and why the West is losing the war.

The Taliban have pledged not to attack voting centres and to hand over three key areas to tribal elders. Government authorities hope to do the same in other provinces. Coalition nations are satisfied by the deal, hopeful that a broadly-based peace deal can be reached with moderate Taliban. Some observers note that in Badghis fighting was already on the wane.

Local sources told AsiaNews that Western nations have realised that they cannot win this war militarily, but they are also unable to find a way out. A case in point is a row that broke in Italy after three of its soldiers were wounded in two separate attacks, one in Bala Baluk, and the other in Adraskan, both not far from the city of Heart.

“It seems that for many politicians the choice is between withdrawing their troops and guaranteeing them maximum security and firepower,” the source said on condition of anonymity. “No one says what can be done for Afghanistan. No one says why the Taliban, eight years after the US intervention, are still able to resist and are actually increasing their attacks.”

“In reality everyone knows that Western nations are losing the war. They might control Kabul and the big cities but entire regions are in the hands of the Taliban.”

“The Taliban know they cannot win, but they have time on their side. Sooner or later Westerners will leave and they are bidding their time. For this reason they do not need peace.”

According to local experts, “Kabul and its allies are losing for two reasons: the inefficient organisation of reconstruction and the inability to manage relations with the local population. It is not a military problem but a population that lacks basic services.”

“After so many years since the [Western] intervention began, many areas of Kabul still lack drinking water. Power is still rationed and is available only a few hours a day. There are no roads. New schools have not been built. Health care is poor and people are still dying from dysentery. Infant mortality under the age of five stands at around 20 per cent. Even a caesarean delivery becomes dangerous if there is no assistance. Maternal mortality is still one per 50 births, but in some provinces like Badahashan, it can go up to one in 16.”

“A lot of money has arrived, but donor countries have not bothered to check how they are spent. Corruption aside, and there is a lot of it, many things have been badly planned; good on paper but not appropriate for the local situation. Only now people are realising it and in the last G8 summit many countries said that reconstruction must be done with the direct involvement of Western countries.”

“Corruption is widespread and the Karzai government has come in for a lot of criticism,” the source said. “The population is living just above subsistence levels. In 2007 alone the price of wheat jumped 70 per cent with inflation running at 17 per cent. The prices of oil, gas and wood, which are essential to keep warm during the cold winter, are going up all the time. Yet people see United Nations officials drive in expensive cars, employing many office workers. In Kabul luxury homes are sprouting like mushrooms, a sign that somebody is getting rich.”

Relations with the local population are another problem. Afghans are a proud and independent people. And as our source noted, “no one can control the territory without the support of the population. In 2001 people were keenly interested in change; they were open to change. But nothing happened. And now no one believes that change is possible. It will not be easy to rebuild that kind off trust and willingness” to cooperate.

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See also
Afghanistan: rocket attack on Presidential Palace in Kabul
Karzai calls on Pakistan to stop firing rockets into Afghanistan
Karzai reassures the donor countries and calls for more power over aid
Al Qaeda claims Kabul massacre. Karzai cuts short European tour
Karzai invites Mullah Omar to peace talks


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