<html> <head> <title>NATO's failure portends a wider war, by Ahmed Rashid .1'3'F 2EF</title/> </head> <STYLE>BODY {SCROLLBAR-FACE-COLOR: brown; SCROLLBAR-HIGHLIGHT-COLOR: black; SCROLLBAR-3DLIGHT-COLOR: red; SCROLLBAR-ARROW-COLOR: wheat; SCROLLBAR-TRACK-COLOR: peru; SCROLLBAR-DARKSHADOW-COLOR: green} a:link {text-decoration:none;} a:visited {text-decoration:none;} a img {border: none;} </STYLE> <body bgcolor="wheat"> <center> <table border="0" width="100%" height="100%" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="5"> <tr> <td colspan="2" height="40" bgcolor="peru"> <table height="100%" width="100%" border="0" cellpadding="3"><tr> <td width="18%" valign="middle" align="center"><a href="../index.html"> <font color="white" size="+1">Back to home page</font></td> <td valign="middle" align="center" height="" width="64%"> <font color="yellow" size=+2><b>NATO's failure portends a wider war</b></font></td> <td width="18%" valign="middle" align="center"><a href="arashid01p.html"> <font color="white" size="+1">A'13</font></td> </tr></table> </td> </tr> <tr> <td width="18%" bgcolor="brown"> <table border="0" height="5%" width="100%" cellpadding="3"> <tr><td valign="top" align="center"><img src="../images/arashid2.jpg"></td></tr> <tr><td valign="top"><font color="khaki" size="+1"><b>&nbsp;&nbsp;</b></font></td></tr> <tr><td valign="top"><font color="khaki" size="+1"><b>&nbsp;&nbsp;</b></font></td></tr> <tr><td valign="top" align="center"><font color="khaki" size="+1"><b></b></font></td></tr> <tr><td valign="top"><font color="khaki" size="+1"><b>&nbsp;&nbsp;</b></font></td></tr> </table> </td> <td valign="top"> <p class=MsoNormal><span lang=EN-US style='font-size:8.5pt;mso-bidi-font-size: 12.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>Saurce</span><span lang=EN-US style='font-size:8.5pt;font-family:Tahoma; color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>: International Herald Tribune<o:p></o:p></span><br> <class=MsoNormal><span lang=EN-US style='font-size:8.5pt;font-family:Tahoma; color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>Published: November 30, 2006<o:p></o:p><br> Author: Ahmed Rashid</span></p> <p class=MsoNormal style='mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto; line-height:13.5pt'><st1:City w:st="on"><span lang=EN-US style='font-size:10.0pt; font-family:Arial;color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>PESHAWAR</span></st1:City><span lang=EN-US style='font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial;color:black;mso-ansi-language: EN-US'>, <st1:country-region w:st="on">Pakistan</st1:country-region>: The abysmal failure of NATO countries at the <st1:City w:st="on">Riga</st1:City> summit meeting this week to commit more troops to <st1:country-region w:st="on">Afghanistan</st1:country-region> will further encourage a countrywide Taliban offensive, and portends much greater interference by neighboring states - all staking their claims as they see the West giving up the ghost on <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Afghanistan</st1:place></st1:country-region>.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class=MsoNormal style='mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto; line-height:13.5pt'><span lang=EN-US style='font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial; color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>In the future annals of the spread of Islamic extremism and Al Qaeda, the NATO meeting this week will almost certainly be considered a watershed. <st1:country-region w:st="on">Germany</st1:country-region>, <st1:country-region w:st="on">Spain</st1:country-region>, <st1:country-region w:st="on">Italy</st1:country-region> and <st1:country-region w:st="on">France</st1:country-region>, which refused to allow their troops in <st1:country-region w:st="on">Afghanistan</st1:country-region> to go south to fight the Taliban, and other member states who refused to commit fresh troops or equipment, may well be held responsible for allowing <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Afghanistan</st1:place></st1:country-region> to slip back into the hands of the Taliban and their Qaeda allies.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class=MsoNormal style='mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto; line-height:13.5pt'><span lang=EN-US style='font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial; color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>Such desperately depressing considerations arise from the fragile state of the Afghan government, the massive surge in Taliban attacks this year, the collapse of civil authority in wide swathes of the country and the rise in opium production, which is funding not just the Taliban, but a plethora of Afghan, Kashmiri, Central Asian, Chinese and Chechen Islamic extremist groups based on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class=MsoNormal style='mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto; line-height:13.5pt'><span lang=EN-US style='font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial; color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>Last summer the Taliban planned to capture <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Kandahar</st1:place></st1:City> - the second-largest Afghan city - and set up an alternative government. They were only just thwarted by the sacrifices of NATO British, Canadian, Dutch and American troops and their Afghan allies, who fought pitched battles with battalion-size Taliban units - battles the likes of which the West had not experienced since the Korean War.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class=MsoNormal style='mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto; line-height:13.5pt'><span lang=EN-US style='font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial; color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>Tribal leaders in <st1:City w:st="on">Peshawar</st1:City> and along the border now say that the Taliban are recruiting thousands of fighters in <st1:country-region w:st="on">Pakistan</st1:country-region> and <st1:country-region w:st="on">Afghanistan</st1:country-region> for a full-scale, <span class=SpellE>multipronged</span> offensive in the spring, which will open so many fronts in southern <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Afghanistan</st1:place></st1:country-region> that present NATO forces will be unable to cope. This time the target is <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Kabul</st1:place></st1:City> and the government of President <span class=SpellE>Hamid</span> <span class=SpellE>Karzai</span>.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class=MsoNormal style='mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto; line-height:13.5pt'><span lang=EN-US style='font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial; color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>The Taliban will fully understand and exploit NATO's failure to respond to these threats. NATO's inaction will also cause massive demoralization among the Afghan people and encourage warlords and drug traffickers to prepare for the coming anarchy.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class=MsoNormal style='mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto; line-height:13.5pt'><span lang=EN-US style='font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial; color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>Most significantly, NATO's decision will pave the way for further interference by neighboring states, which helped fuel the civil war in <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Afghanistan</st1:place></st1:country-region> throughout the 1990s.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class=MsoNormal style='mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto; line-height:13.5pt'><span lang=EN-US style='font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial; color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>Pakistan's military regime, which provides clandestine support to the Taliban and has refused to accept NATO and U.S. plans to arrest the Taliban leaders on its soil, has long calculated that in time the West will walk away from Afghanistan. Pakistani officials are already convinced that the Taliban are winning and are trying to convince NATO and the <st1:country-region w:st="on">United States</st1:country-region> to strike piecemeal deals with the Taliban in the south and east, which eventually could develop into a Pakistani- brokered Taliban coalition government in <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Kabul</st1:place></st1:City>.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class=MsoNormal style='mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto; line-height:13.5pt'><span lang=EN-US style='font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial; color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>Such a plan would never be tolerated, however, by the swath of other neighbors who in the 1990s supported the former <st1:place w:st="on">Northern Alliance</st1:place> in their war against the Taliban. To beat back <st1:country-region w:st="on">Pakistan</st1:country-region> and the Taliban, <st1:country-region w:st="on">Russia</st1:country-region>, <st1:country-region w:st="on">Iran</st1:country-region>, <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">India</st1:place></st1:country-region> and the Central Asian states may step up their support for <span class=SpellE>Karzai's</span> government, but they will almost certainly look for alternatives, such as rearming and mobilizing their former allies - the warlords of the north.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class=MsoNormal style='mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto; line-height:13.5pt'><span lang=EN-US style='font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial; color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>As in the 1990s, such a scenario could develop into an ethnic civil war between the <span class=SpellE>Pashtun</span> Taliban in the south and the <span class=SpellE>Tajiks</span>, Uzbeks and <span class=SpellE>Hazaras</span> of the north. At <st1:City w:st="on">Riga</st1:City>, NATO demonstrated that it does not have the will to stop such a civil war, which could lead to the partition of <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Afghanistan</st1:place></st1:country-region> along north- south lines.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class=MsoNormal style='mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto; line-height:13.5pt'><span lang=EN-US style='font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial; color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>Many fear that despite the wishful thinking of the Pakistani military, a civil war in <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Afghanistan</st1:place></st1:country-region> will have devastating effects on the integrity of the Pakistani state. The regime of President <span class=SpellE>Pervez</span> <span class=SpellE>Musharraf</span> already faces a full-blown separatist insurgency in <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:PlaceName w:st="on">Baluchistan</st1:PlaceName> <st1:PlaceType w:st="on">Province</st1:PlaceType></st1:place>. And a wave of <span class=SpellE>Talibanization</span> is sweeping <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Pakistan</st1:place></st1:country-region>'s <span class=SpellE>Pashtun</span> belt, which the military is not attempting to stop, but rather conceding to, through so-called peace deals that leave the Taliban-Qaeda groups in place.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class=MsoNormal style='mso-margin-top-alt:auto;mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto; line-height:13.5pt'><st1:country-region w:st="on"><span lang=EN-US style='font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial;color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>Pakistan</span></st1:country-region><span lang=EN-US style='font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial;color:black;mso-ansi-language: EN-US'>'s <span class=SpellE>Pashtun</span> tribal areas have already proved to be the training ground for the July 2005 terrorist attacks in <st1:City w:st="on">London</st1:City> and the thwarted <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:PlaceName w:st="on">Heathrow</st1:PlaceName> <st1:PlaceType w:st="on">Airport</st1:PlaceType></st1:place> plot this year.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p style='line-height:13.5pt'><span lang=EN-US style='font-size:10.0pt; font-family:Arial;color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>The situation in <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Afghanistan</st1:place></st1:country-region> is not just dire, it is desperate. The struggle against Islamic extremism will be lost not in <st1:country-region w:st="on">Iraq</st1:country-region>, <st1:country-region w:st="on">Iran</st1:country-region> or even the <st1:City w:st="on">Palestine</st1:City> territories, but in <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Afghanistan</st1:place></st1:country-region>. It is here that Al Qaeda wants to regroup and rearm itself to continue its global jihad and it is here that NATO countries are failing the world.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p style='line-height:13.5pt'><em><span lang=EN-US style='font-size:10.0pt; font-family:Arial;color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'>Ahmed Rashid is the author of &quot;Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam in <st1:place w:st="on">Central Asia</st1:place>.&quot;</span></em><span lang=EN-US style='font-size:10.0pt; font-family:Arial;color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-US'><o:p></o:p></span></p> </td> </tr> </table> </center> </body> </html>