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« South Africa passes mercenaries bill | Main | EU: A common policy for the Middle East, before sending troops! »

The Road to Taliban Land

Dutch Prime Minister, Jan Peter balkenende, among his troops, last Saturday (Photo NRC, Holland), click on image to see the sunglasses...

The announced disaster - it happened.
After a visit to the 1.400 strong Dutch NATO-ISAF contingent in Tarin Kowt (Uruzgan, Southern Afghanistan), Dutch PM, Jan Peter Balkenende, participated in a press conference with Afghan president Hamid Karzai.
Karzai complained, that US-led forces had provoked Pakistan critics who support "taliban" insurgency. The Dutch are into the Afghan morass over their (horrible) sunglasses and ears.

Disputes Spur His Critics, Karzai Says - New York Times:

"Disputes Spur His Critics, Karzai Says

KABUL, Afghanistan, Aug. 26 — President Hamid Karzai said Saturday that recent criticism of his leadership and his administration stemmed from disagreements that he had had with some partners of the United States-led coalition in Afghanistan over the conduct of military operations.

“For some time, some circles of the Western media have started special propaganda against me and the Afghan government,” he told journalists at a joint news conference with Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende of the Netherlands.

There is no record of Balkenende refuting these statements. It is an implicit condonement of the "run-and-kill" tactics that British and Australian military are applying in their Helmand and Kandahar provinces. Dutch F16s are already participating in these killing parties. Dutch commanders of the ground forces are proposing their participation in those actions. Like the Germans (see In Europa Zuhause). Karzai continues:
“We had some disagreements with some members of the international coalition against terrorism concerning counterterrorism, and maybe they did not like those arguments,” he said. “And their media, because of that, started propaganda against us.”
Translation: The Indian secret service, in order to create diversion from the Kashmir rebellion, supports anti-Pakistan movements in Baluchistan and the Pashtun area and the military government of Pakistan has a policy of severe repression against those rebellions.
Saturday, the Pakistan army killed a former minister and important Baluch clan leader, Bugti.
Demonstrations, strikes, manifestations all over the Baluchi Sindh, the Baluchi and Pastuni areas.
A connection with the "Peters" document, published recently in the Pentagon Army Weekly, which proposes a "Free Baluchistan" country, independent from Pakistan, cannot be excluded.
Mr. Karzai has recently come under sharp criticism at home and abroad for failing to protect the country from violence and manage the economy, and for allowing widespread corruption in his government. And as the insurgency has worsened, confidence in his leadership has fallen.
In the real world, the "Taliban" are virtually non-existant. It is all about clanic rule. Pakistan's military ruler Muzarraf does not control the powerful secret service ISI, that foments tribal insurgence in Afghanistan. After the American retreat, the European NATO-ISAF forces are left to deal with their creations. No help from the powerless Karzai.
In response, he has repeatedly blamed the worsening insurgency in southern Afghanistan on infiltration from Pakistan, and has called on the United States and its coalition"
Again: A unified EU policy to stabilise Afghanistan, promote talks with local lords in the way Karzai has repreatedly proposed, combat Indian as well as Pakistani ingerence, could still work. Left alone, the English-Australian-Dutch military will not be able to do anything else as to terrorize local insurgents and create a strong movement against the West.
Some imagination and courage is needed. Could it come from Brussels?

Ann Jones, who, as a NGO worker, was in Kabul for 4 years, depicts the disastrous US practices in Afghanistan (Read the complete artice on: TomDispatch - Tomgram: Ann Jones on the Road to Taliban Land):

"[..]The Road to Taliban Land

The criteria by which contractors are selected have little or nothing to do with conditions in the recipient country, and they are not exactly what you would call transparent. Take the case of the Kabul-Kandahar Highway, featured on the USAID website as a proud accomplishment. In five years, it's also the only accomplishment in highway building -- which makes it one better than the Bush administration record in building power stations, water systems, sewer systems, or dams.

The highway was featured in the Kabul Weekly newspaper in March 2005 under the headline, 'Millions Wasted on Second-Rate Roads.' Afghan journalist Mirwais Harooni reported that even though other international companies had been ready to rebuild the highway for $250,000 per kilometer, the U.S.-based Louis Berger Group got the job at $700,000 per kilometer -- of which there are 389. Why? The standard American answer is that Americans do better work -- though not Berger which, at the time, was already years behind on another $665 million contract to build Afghan schools. Berger subcontracted to Turkish and Indian companies to build the narrow, two-lane, shoulderless highway at a final cost of about $1 million per mile; and anyone who travels it today can see that it is already falling apart.

Former Minister of Planning Ramazan Bashardost complained that when it came to building roads, the Taliban had done a better job; and he too asked, "Where did the money go?" Now, in a move certain to tank President Karzai's approval ratings and further endanger U.S. and NATO troops in the area, the Bush administration has pressured his government to turn this "gift of the people of the United States" into a toll road, charging each driver $20 for a road-use permit valid for one month. In this way, according to American experts providing highly paid technical assistance, Afghanistan can collect $30 million annually from its impoverished citizens and thereby decrease the foreign aid "burden" on the United States."

It is an illusion, to think that a "Dutch approach" (friendly soldiers, local meetings) could become a solution to the humiliation and marginalization that the Afghans feel. A completely different, distinct, approach by ISAF (as an EU NATO undertaking) is the only solution.

Circumstances are favorable for such a policy: The US cannot and will not continue its Afghan intervention. There is a free field.
Politicians are called to do what they are hired for: Make policy.

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