Sunday, October 28, 2007

Afghanistan out of control

That's the point of two pieces this weekend that suggest Canada's decision about what to do with the mission in Afghanistan likely depends more on the facts on the ground over there than anything domestically, including the recommendations of the Manley panel. James Travers makes the point in his column yesterday, pointing out the lack of help from Allies, the difficulties in trying to reconstruct a country torn apart for decades by war, the porous Pakistan border and the potentially devastating showdown between the U.S. and Iran. All of these factors will do more to influence the Canadian public and presumably their MP's as we go forward.

And the second piece is in today's New York Times where the report is that the people in Afghan's north are arming themselves as they feel the Taliban resurging, suggesting the possibility of a widening conflict:
Many former militia commanders and residents in northern Afghanistan have been hoarding illegal weapons in violation of the country’s disarmament laws, giving the excuse that they face a spreading Taliban insurgency from the south that government forces alone are too frail to stop, Afghan and Western officials say.

After years of moderate success for government disarmament programs, rumors of widespread defiance in the north have arisen recently among government officials and intelligence agencies in Kabul and elsewhere. Although there is little hard evidence that commanders are greatly enlarging their arsenals, officials say, some have been thwarting government programs, refusing to disarm and possibly even remobilizing militias.

The talk of rearming underscores a deepening north-south ethnic divide that some diplomats and Afghan officials privately worry could lead the way toward a shift of power back to warlords — and toward a countrywide armed conflict — if left unchecked. And the situation poses a major challenge for President Hamid Karzai, a Pashtun from the south, whose administration has failed to win the confidence of many non-Pashtun leaders and northerners.
Some facts to keep in mind going forward and perspective on what has been described as a brilliant political tactic, the appointment of the Manley panel. It may ultimately prove irrelevant.