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SPRING OFFENSIVE April 17, 2012

Posted by wmmbb in CENTRAL ASIA.
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The season of renewal was judged by the armed resistance in Afghanistan to launch staged armed attacks in Kabul and other locations as they did last year.

Jason Ditz at AntiWar.com added further details:

NATO’s initially shrugged off the coordinated Sunday attacks by Taliban fighters in Kabul, but the assessment appears to have been premature, as heavy fighting continued into Monday morning on the streets of the Afghan capital, with no end in sight.

And NATO’s claims that the Afghan government were handling the situation on their own appear to have gone out the window as well, with reports of NATO attack helicopters doing strafing runs near the British and German embassies.

The attacks have been targeting embassies, government offices and military bases across the capital, and nearly every heavily defended site in the capital getting hit at some point over the last 24 hours.

Officials have repeatedly claimed that the fighting is over, but every claim is followed up by more reports of gunfire, and the latest reports have fighting around the Western embassies as well as near the presidential palace and the parliament.

Juan Cole is not impressed. He writes:

This sort of tactic makes a lot of noise, but typically has no practical benefit for a guerrilla movement. The Sunni Arab Islamic State of Iraq has been blowing up Baghdad regularly but we’ve seen no sign of it interfering with the consolidation of power by PM Nouri al-Maliki. Perhaps it has even backfired and created momentum for al-Maliki.

One local Afghan newspaper was left puzzling as to the purpose of these attacks, which, like those in Baghdad, likely have not hope of tactical success. The article speculates that the Taliban are trying to keep the US boots on the ground, just as President Hamid Karzai is, so as to extract strategic rent from the ongoing Western presence in Afghanistan. That is, some allege that the attacks in Kabul were motivated by a desire to draw the US into a longer-term occupation, so that the Taliban can be assured of having someone to fight. (Seems unlikely to me, but interesting that it appeared in the Afghan press. And, I don’t think it would work. Most Americans, even Republicans, want out, and I think most US troops will be out by 2014…)

I doubt whether this strategy would make much sense. I think the more sensible explanation is that the resistance to the Occupation illustrate that the puppet government cannot defend its strongholds and that they are dependent on the support of the Occupation military forces. They win by losing. Further they show the vulnerability of the Occupation Embassies. And then insofar as Afghanistan is news, the publics of the various participants in the Occupation are going the question the lack of progress after so much time with so much extravagant expenditure with little to show.

The attack on NATO Headquarters in Kabul was probably intended to be symbolic. The former Defence Minister returning from a visit to Brussels argues that Australia should double down and expect to have troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014. ABC reports Joel Fitzgibbon as saying:

“These attacks are always cause for concern. They demonstrate again that the peace in Afghanistan is at best a fragile one and the security arrangements are quite fragile,” he said.

“That’s why I’ve no doubt that it will be some time yet before international forces can leave Afghanistan confident and secure in the knowledge that the Afghan security forces can, themselves, enforce their own rule of law.

“By then the Afghan forces they are training should be in a position to do their own security work, but beyond then we will still need significant NATO assets and indeed special forces from a range of countries to help them do that work.

“It’s folly to believe that at some point after 2014 the Afghan National Army will be able to do that work without the assistance that we have from special forces and other NATO assets.”

So why has the training to date, including much expense, failed? Apparently it was thought that the resistance could not launch an attack, and yet it seems to be the largest since 2001:

It would be so much better for everyone concerned if these questions could be settled without violence and death, but when political power and political ends are sought through violence, a proposition that applies to the NATO and the other, lesser occupiers, then these actions are inevitable.

The Haqqani network is not usually seen as been the Taliban rather they were formerly sponsored by the CIA against the Soviets and closely aligned with Pakistan’s ISI. There are reports of confessions from captured attackers, but there might be some doubt over their inherent reliability.

The arguments that persuaded the Dutch to leave Afghanistan, without retaliation by the Imperialists, seem to be lost on Australian politicians.

So perhaps the case can be actually represented as a train wreck following the derailing of the proposed talks with “the Taliban”. Dispatches from the Edge tellingly observes:

As a series of recent attacks demonstrate, the surge failed to secure Kandahar and Helmand Province, two of its major targets. While NATO claims that insurgent attacks have fallen as a result of the U.S. offensive, independent data collected by the United Nations shows the opposite.

In short, after a decade of war and the expenditure of over $450 billion, Afghanistan is a less secure place than it was after the 2001 invasion. All the surge accomplished was to more deeply entrench the Taliban and elevate the casualty rate on all sides.

The second U.S. error was to estrange Pakistan by wooing India in order to rope New Delhi into Washington’s campaign to challenge China in Asia. First, Obama ditched his campaign pledge to address the volatile issue of Kashmir, the flashpoint for three wars between Indian and Pakistan. Second, the White House ignored India’s violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and allowed it to buy uranium on the world market—the so-called 1-2-3 Agreement—while refusing that same waiver to Pakistan. Add the American drone war and last November’s deadly attack on Pakistani border troops, and most Pakistanis are thoroughly alienated from the U.S. And yet a political solution to the Afghan war without Islamabad is simply impossible.

The U.S. demand to keep Special Forces troops in Afghanistan in order to continue its war on “terrorism” is not only a non-starter for the insurgents—the Taliban are, after all, the target of thousands of deadly “night raids” carried out by these same Special Forces—it is opposed by every country in the region save India. How the White House thinks it can bring the Taliban and its allies to the table while still trying to kill and capture them, or maintain a military presence in the face of almost total regional opposition, is hard to figure.

Update:

ABC News reports the PM will announce the withdrawal of Australian troops from Afghanistan earlier than expected, and in time for the next Federal Election.

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