James Forsyth

Afghanistan: The worries mount as the West prepares to drawdown

Afghanistan: The worries mount as the West prepares to drawdown
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Dexter Filkins is one of the great war correspondents of the post 9/11 world. So it is particularly sobering to read his assessment of the Afghan situation as the West prepares to drawdown. Filkins reports that:

"According to American officers, the level of violence in Afghanistan this year is fifteen per cent higher than it was at this time last year. The insurgents, far from being degraded, appear to be as resilient as ever. And their sanctuaries in Pakistan, where the Taliban leadership resides mostly unmolested, remain more or less intact."

Compounding this problem is that the levels of corruption in the Afghan government are continuing to alienate the population. As Filkins writes:

"Last year, Afghan prosecutors were prepared to indict as many as two dozen officials on corruption charges. But the arrest of a single Presidential aide last July was a fiasco — after Karzai publicly objected, the aide was released and the charges against him dropped. Since then, not one senior Afghan official has been brought to justice.'"

Given these two facts it is hard to be optimistic about Afghanistan’s future once Western forces leave. It is horribly easy to see how we could end up with almost a replay of the 1990s there.