“There are 100 Al-Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan”
According to Robert Blackwill, deputy US National Security Advisor in 2003-2004, America now has three options in Afghanistan.
The first one is to stay on the current course, which is both economically and politically unsustainable.
“It will be at least five years before the Afghan national army could take on the Taliban in Southeastern Afghanistan – for us that would be five hundred billion dollars… and probably 3,000 more Americans dead… I don’t think, with a war that is increasingly unpopular with the American people, that there is a five-year time line at that expenditure of resources,” Blackwill explained.
Another option is to pull troops out of the country as soon as possible, which is bound to destabilize the region and ignite a civil war.
A third variant is negotiating an acceptable outcome with the Taliban; but this strategy is unlikely to succeed, because the Taliban clearly think they are winning the war and want no negotiations.
Blackwill offers a different solution. The United States, he says, should reluctantly accept the partition of the country: stop fighting in Pashtun homeland, South-Eastern Afghanistan, and withdraw it forces from there, allowing the Taliban to take the territory over. At the same time, the US should stop talking about an exit strategy, and announce that the American army would keep a contingent of 35,000-50,000 in Afghanistan to defend the rest of the country. The neighboring countries, Blackwill believes, are likely to support this plan.
“There are a hundred, at most, Al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan. There are, according to CIA, about 300 in Pakistan. They are on that border. The three hundred are around one side of the border, in the mountains, and the hundred are on the other side. What difference does it make which side of the border they are on? Should we spend $100 billion a year and all these lives to keep them from moving twenty miles over? I don’t think so,” Blackwill concluded.