Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Violence in Afghanistan--the UN Weighs In

Photo: Panjshir, Afghanistan

No matter how hard they want us to stop paying attention to the failure of this administration to finish the job it started in Afghanistan, we're still going to keep a watchful eye on what's going on. When you outsource your responsibilities to NATO and the United Nations and hope a few thousand British, French and German troops can make up for all of those brigades that are tied down in Iraq, you're just asking for more scrutiny:

(AP) Insurgent and terrorist violence in Afghanistan increased sharply in 2007, with over 8,000 conflict-related deaths and an average of 566 incidents per month, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday.

In a report to the U.N. Security Council, Ban said the number of violent incidents rose from an average of 425 per month in 2006. The number of suicide attacks jumped to 160 attacks in 2007 from 123 in 2006 — with 68 attempts thwarted in 2007 compared with 17 in 2006, he said.

While the insurgency draws strength from some Afghans, the secretary-general said, "the support of foreign-based networks in providing leadership, planning, training, funding and equipment clearly remains crucial to its viability."

Insurgent violence in Afghanistan is at its highest level since U.S. forces invaded the country in 2001 to oust the hard-line Islamic Taliban rulers, who harbored al Qaeda leaders blamed for planning the attacks in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.

The focus of the violence has been in Afghanistan's southern and eastern provinces, but the insurgents are increasingly using Iraq-style tactics, such as roadside bombs, suicide attacks and kidnappings to hit foreign and Afghan targets around the country.

"Afghanistan remains roughly divided between the generally more stable west and north, where security problems are linked to factionalism and criminality, and the south and east characterized by an increasingly coordinated insurgency," the secretary-general said.

"In fact, even within the south, conflict has been concentrated in a fairly small area: 70 percent of security incidents occurred in 10 percent (40) of Afghanistan's districts, home to 6 percent of the country's population," Ban said.

That's what is so heartbreaking about Afghanistan--forty or fifty thousand US troops could make a significant difference there. In turn, perhaps other nations would up the ante. Securing and clearing areas might work better in Afghanistan than it does in Iraq--we'll never know.

What we do know is this--the margin by which Afghanistan is slipping away from us gets thinner by the day, and we don't have the troops to make a difference.

No comments: