Mowing the Grass

Posted by lex, on September 18th, 2011

Having despaired of “clear, hold and build,” and with surge forces already ebbing out of the country in advance of the 2014 handover, ISAF and Afghan forces are now reduced to air assaults on the rural provinces of Afghanistan to cull Taliban forces:

Afghan commandos and Coalition special operations forces killed more than 70 “insurgents” during an operation in the remote, mountainous province of Nuristan yesterday. Much of the province is under the control of the Taliban and other allied insurgent groups.

The combined forces launched a clearing operation in the villages of Pol-e Rostam and Alwagal in Barg-e-Matal district, the International Security Assistance Forces stated in a press release. Barg-e-Matal is one of six of the eight districts in Nuristan that are under the control of the Taliban, Governor Mohammad Tamim Nuristani said on Sept. 4.

Afghan commandos were attacked by the Taliban immediately after air-assaulting into Pol-e Rostam. Seven insurgents were killed during airstrikes, and another 33 were killed during “multiple engagements” as the operation progressed. The combined force was able to secure the district center.

In the village of Alwagal, the commandos again came under “heavy small arms fire from multiple directions” as they air-assaulted into the area. An additional 30 insurgents are thought to have been killed during heavy fighting.

One Afghan commando was killed during the operation. “Four coalition SOF, one Commando, one interpreter and the team’s military working dog were injured by an insurgent grenade,” ISAF stated.

ISAF stated that the purpose of the operation was to “disrupt insurgent activity and demonstrate the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s ability to place security forces into remote insurgent safe havens.”

And then bug out, leaving the field to the Taliban.

The new strategy is on securing the urban centers of Afghanistan, a mirror image of the “oil spot” strategy used in the more urbanized Iraqi campaign. But in Iraq, roughly 66% of the citizenry lives in cities, while the proportion of city-dwellers in Afghanistan is only  25%. Excluding the northern ethnicities who always resisted Pashtun-dominated Taliban governance (and the Hazara that submitted to it), this leaves nearly three-quarters of the Afghan human terrain vulnerable to, if not actually ruled by the tender mercies of the Taliban.

Back in the Kabul, meanwhile, the parliament that Afghans risked their lives to vote for has not met for a year:

A political dispute over the expulsion of nine lawmakers has paralyzed Afghanistan’s parliament a year after Afghans braved a torrent of attacks to elect their representatives.

The impasse has held up urgent legislative initiatives and exacerbated the sense of anxiety among Afghans about the country’s future at a time when U.S. troops are starting to draw down amid rising violence.

More than half of the 249 members of the lower house of parliament have refused or failed to attend sessions after nine lawmakers lost their seats over allegations that they were elected as a result of widespread fraud.

Members supporting the dismissed representatives say their bloc includes 160 lawmakers, a figure disputed by allies of President Hamid Karzai.

The nine members were expelled after a months-long fight during which Afghan and Western officials accused Karzai of using the courts to force the removal of opposition figures in exchange for politicians more likely to rubber-stamp his initiatives. The government has asserted it was simply seeking to probe and act on allegations of fraud.

Either way, the impact of the dispute is clear.

“Basically, nothing is being done in the parliament,” said Ramazan Bashardost, a member of parliament who said he supports neither side.

So the math comes down to this: Ten years after dismantling the Taliban government and evicting al Qaeda, the Taliban once again hold sway over most of the populace, with the rest being governed by a corrupt and paranoid autocrat surrounded by a clique of thieves, unchecked by the representatives of the people.

Somebody call Frank Capra.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Best of Neptunus Lex, Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Carroll LeFon, GWOT, Terrorism

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