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14 Aug, 2009 10:39

ROAR: No NATO success story in Afghanistan

ROAR: No NATO success story in Afghanistan

The western military alliance has achieved only tactical goals in Afghanistan, Russian analysts believe. They also stress that NATO “has usurped the UN’s responsibilities.”

NATO declares, as its main role in the country, assisting the Afghan government “in exercising and extending its authority and influence across the country, paving the way for reconstruction and effective governance.”

The alliance is implementing the task through its UN-mandated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). NATO took command of ISAF in 2003.

Since then, the mission’s reach has been expanded to cover Afghanistan’s whole territory. According to NATO officials, now the number of troops has grown from 5,000 to around 50,000 troops coming from 42 countries, including all 28 NATO members.

By taking command of ISAF, NATO “has actually seized the responsibilities of the United Nations,” Tribuna weekly wrote. However, for a long period of time, thousands of troops have been trying unsuccessfully to secure stability in Afghanistan, the paper stressed.

The Taliban’s militants have stepped up their activities on the eve of the presidential election due to be held on August 20, Tribuna said. “Terrorists attack state offices and police stations,” the paper wrote, adding that the international military contingent has also “failed to block channels of drug trafficking.”

“NATO is not implementing its direct task,” Tribuna said. At the same time, NATO, headed by the US, “is consolidating its positions in the Central Asian region, which is strategically important for the alliance,” the paper added.

Many analysts believe that NATO began its transformation in August 2003, Tribuna wrote. The paper quoted Yury Krupnov, chairman of the supervisory board of the Institute of Demography, Migration and Regional development, as saying that the operation in Afghanistan is “a key element of the realization of the project of transforming the alliance into an alternative to the UN.”

The concept of transforming a regional organization into a global one may become the basis of a new NATO strategy, Krupnov said during a round table at RIA Novosti news agency.

“The problem of Afghanistan involves if not all, then many countries of the world, attracting their resources for NATO’s purposes,” Andrey Areshev, the deputy director of Strategic Culture Foundation, said.

“Unfortunately, Russia’s position on this issue has not been formulated clearly,” Areshev added. Russia signs an agreement with NATO about the transit of military cargoes, and the alliance talks about stepping up cooperation with Moscow in all fields, he said.

“However, it is not clear what Russia would get from this cooperation “except problems on its southern borders and complications in relations with partners in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization,” Areshev said.

“Russian diplomats may work in the framework of international law and seek allies who are able to oppose NATO’s policies in Afghanistan, which harm many countries, including Pakistan, India and Iran,” he stressed.

Areshev believes that “if the norms of international laws are violated, then with time, the Afghan model may be applied to any other state.”

Vremya Novostey daily also stressed that the operation in Afghanistan started as a UN operation. However, after a year and a half, NATO took command of the troops deployed in the country. The unlawful “usurpation” of the UN’s responsibilities by NATO was legalized by the UN Security Council post factum, the paper said.

“NATO’s operation in Afghanistan is an element of division in the world and is dictated by the aspiration of the US and its allies to consolidate their hold on this strategically and economically important region,” Sergey Mikheev, a vice-president of the Center for Political Technologies, said.

Krupnov, in his turn, said that there is no stability or strong state in Afghanistan. At the same time, he called the situation “optimal for the US and their allies.”

“Military contingents are growing, [the US’s] geopolitical influence in the region is increasing,” he said. “The Americans have gone there for a long time.”

Russia should help “Afghanistan, rather than the alliance, in creating a strong state” through military and technical cooperation, Krupnov believes.

“The alliance has achieved tactical goals in Afghanistan fairly quickly,” Sergey Demidenko, analyst with the Institute of Strategic Studies and Analysis, believes. “The alliance overthrew the Taliban regime and established a pro-American regime in Afghanistan,” Demidenko told RT.

“Americans and their allies prepared parliamentary and presidential elections in Afghanistan, which were rather democratic,” Demidenko said. At the same time, the opposition was excluded from the democratic process, he added.

However, many people in Afghanistan still support the Taliban, Demidenko said. “NATO has also failed to propose a clear economic program, or a clear program of disarmament of the nation that is armed to the teeth,” he stressed.

Both programs were formulated in 2003-2004, but were never implemented, Demidenko said. So, the population in Afghanistan still grows poppy instead of other crops.

NATO has also failed to destroy the Taliban and its rear bases by military methods, the analyst said. The Taliban started a guerilla war. The US’s efforts in Pakistan have not brought considerable results either. Meanwhile, the Taliban has increased its activities recently, Demideko added.

The main problem with the Americans and their allies is that they failed to propose any clear peaceful alternative to the Taliban, he said. The Afghan government is seen by many in the country as an association of corrupt officials who “are involved in drug trafficking and quarrel with each other.”

The Taliban has managed to retain its supporters for some reason, Demidenko explains. The radical Islamic ideology is a certain form of spiritual opposition of the people to the authorities. The government does not control the whole country. There is no stability and security, something that many still associate with the Taliban.

However, the Taliban did not propose any different program either, except Sharia law, Demidenko said. “But NATO does not use this, and lays emphasis on the military solution to the Afghan problem rather than on peaceful methods,” he added.

“Americans believe they have now achieved some success in Iraq and are trying to adopt the same scheme for Afghanistan,” Demidenko said. “However, this success in Iraq is questionable, and no one knows if the scheme would work in Afghanistan.”

It is premature to say that the US has learned to solve such conflicts, Demidenko believes. He is certain that little has changed in the US’s tactics in Afghanistan since Barack Obama became president. “The US and NATO are stepping up military aspect of the operation, ignoring peaceful methods,” he added.

“NATO has a common policy in Afghanistan, but in its framework there are different approaches of NATO member states,” Demidenko said. “They keep discussing how many troops a particular country should have there, and few want to give financial support to Afghanistan.”

Afghan President Hamid Karzai will undoubtedly win the election next week, Demidenko said. “He has ties with many tribal leaders and field commanders, but one cannot speak about him as a man who is capable of stabilizing Afghanistan,” he added.

“Support for the Taliban is a protest against the inefficiency of the authorities,” the analyst said. “And this is one of the main indicators of the inefficiency of Americans and NATO in Afghanistan.”

Sergey Borisov, RT