September 11, 2001, will forever be remembered in US history as the day the country suffered its worst attack. Very quickly, President George W. Bush pointed the finger of blame at Osama bin Laden, who was believed to be hiding in Afghanistan. The United States offered a 50 million dollar bounty and called on Afghanistan’s Taliban regime to give him up, but it refused. Thirty years of war had left the country in a state of devastation, run by warlords who ruled with impunity.
Long forgotten by much of the world, Afghanistan suddenly became the frontline in the so-called “war on terror”. In October 2001, the United States led an international coalition on a mission to drive the Taliban from power and force bin Laden into the open.
The international community also pledged to secure and stabilise the country as well as aid in its reconstruction. But, six years on, Afghanistan is still haunted by its old demon. Poppy farming was banned under the Taliban but it is a boom industry once more, now accounting for 60 percent of the country’s economy.
The stability promised by ISAF, the International Security Assistance Force, is also far from being delivered. The increasing number of insurgent attacks suggests corruption within Afghan ranks and highlights their recruiting problems. It also exposes the fact that there are not enough ISAF troops to cover the territory.
Many experts believe Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003 used up vital military and financial resources which should have been spent rebuilding and reconstructing Afghanistan. Four years on, Iraq is still incapable of assuring its own security.