10/16/2009, 00.00
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Kabul: no military victory possible against the Taliban

Sources tell AsiaNews that sending fresh troops ‘will not improve the situation.” The conflict is a political and social problem. A compromise is needed to break the “stalemate” at the government level and fight the “widespread impression of corruption.” No one is speaking but some suspect that foreign forces and secret services have paid off the Taliban.
Kabul (AsiaNews) – Whilst the debate in the West focuses on increasing foreign troop levels in Afghanistan; sources in the country tell AsiaNews that a greater foreign military presence “could increase tensions.” In fact, the Taliban “are getting stronger” and their forces “are becoming more effective by the day,” so much so that “there is no possibility of a military victory.” Afghanistan is at a “political stalemate” and more troops “will not improve” the situation because “the problem will not be solved by the military”.

“In the West, the discussion s about increasing the foreign military contingent,” said the sources, who are anonymous for security reasons, “but the real problem is the widespread sense of insecurity and the pervasive corruption that affects the government but also the international community which has invested billions of dollars.”

Major-General Mart de Kruif, commander of NATO troops in southern Afghanistan, called for an additional 10,000 to 15,000 troops to guarantee security.

US General Stanley McChrystal, commander of the 100,000-strong US contingent, has reportedly asked for up to 40,000 more troops to combat an increasingly bloody insurgency that is spreading nationwide.

Sources in Kabul told AsiaNews stressed “that the presence of the military should add value to the country’s reconstruction,” at a time when it lacks “bridges, schools and roads, and 90 per cent of the population is illiterate; instead, the situation got worse in the last few months.”

“Once we could reach villages in distant areas without being attacked. Now it is impossible to provide medical services or rehabilitation, using mobile clinics.”

NGOs and foreign governments are also accused “of providing only crumbs out of the billions of dollars allocated for Afghanistan’s reconstruction”.

“Afghans get help from Westerners during the day, and money and assistance from the Taliban during the night,” sources say. “This is why in many cases police or civilians help carrying out attacks against foreign troops or sensitive targets.”

The political “stalemate” that followed accusations of election fraud in the 20 August presidential elections is contributing to the atmosphere of suspicion and “mistrust towards institutions”.

An “ethical view” of public affairs ought to develop with political parties joining in. However, “it is clear that certain fundamental issues must be set aside, like women’s rights, which are so divisive. Not only are the Taliban against them, but so are a number of groups inside the government. There is no good sense, but if we do not sit around a table to reach a compromise, the situation will not change.”

Finally, no one dares utter a word about alleged payments by Western troops and secret services to the Taliban in exchange for mutual non-interference: no incursion in Taliban-held territory by soldiers, no more attacks by the Taliban against soldiers.

“I can’t speak,” a source in Kabul said. For a second time, “mum’s the word.” Yet “something must be done. Indeed, a lot ought to be done.” (DS)

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