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Afghanistan: action at a crossroads?

Afghanistan: action at a crossroads?
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The coalition in Afghanistan seems to be reviewing its options. The American contra-insurgency strategy (involving protecting the civilian population in order gain popular support and to isolate the insurgents) seems unproductive. Despite their best efforts, security here in the province of Kandahar remains patchy.

Said Hafizullah Khan, from Marof Karez village: “Americans and the government should provide us with security as a priority. We do not feel safe at all. We are not safe. We cannot take part in reconstruction projects like building clinics and schools.”

Eight and a half years after the invasion of Afghanistan, the Americans admit that winning here is harder than they anticipated. CIA Director Leon Panetta says they have no news of Osama Bin Laden.

While the British head of the Army, General Sir David Richards, suggested yesterday that Britain ought to consider negotiating with the Taliban, for Panetta success depends on the ability of Afghan forces to take over the job.

But yesterday the Wall Street Journal said that some 2.5 billion euros in cash had been openly carried out of Afghanistan in suitcases over the last three years, most of it to private accounts in tax havens. The disappearing cash was a combination of drugs money and western aid.

It’s a corruption scandal which touches people very close to President Hamid Karzai. It hardly adds to his popularity nor does it help the Americans as they regroup their forces after the untimely departure of General McChrystal.