How to ease an unbearable burden

The concluding summit in Lisbon, its results, the adoption of a new NATO strategy in the Portuguese capital, and the prospects for Russia and the North Atlantic Alliance to create a joint missile defense pushed the message from the front of the war in Afghanistan into second place. Although very significant events take place there that can affect the situation not only in Central Asia, but also far beyond its borders.

Legitimate target


The Afghan campaign of the West, launched on 7 on October 2001 by the US military, is lost - Afghanistan, in full accordance with Rudyard Kipling, remains a “white man’s burden”. The American army, according to presidential directives of Barack Obama, is to be withdrawn from this country in 2011. Representatives of the Pentagon, commenting on the situation, call other dates, most often - 2014 year. It is assumed that only then the Afghan army and police will be able to independently ensure the law and order in the country. But Afghan President Hamid Karzai claims: Afghan security forces will need direct support from Western troops for at least 10 – 15 years.



The Afghan Army (ANA) currently has 113 thousands of people. In 2011, its strength is expected to bring to the 171,6 thousands of soldiers and officers. The police personnel (ANP) will increase from 120,5 thousand to 134 thousand people at the same time. However, the fighting capacity of the Afghan military and police, judging by the feedback from their instructors, is less than any criticism: switching to the Taliban, desertion from weapons, the commission of crimes and participation in the drug trade are massive. Although local security forces are being trained from 2002, in the first half of 2010, only 10 headquarters, 26 army battalions and several special forces could plan and carry out operations to the battalion level (readiness level of CM1) without external support. 37 units managed to work effectively only together with coalition forces (СМ2), and 25 were unable to participate in such operations and were trained (CM3).

The campaign in Afghanistan revealed the inability of NATO to win the war against an adversary using partisan-sabotage tactics. Today, it can be stated that in addition to the Americans, only British, Canadians and Australian special forces took a real part in the hostilities in Afghanistan. Most contingents of other members of the international coalition of ISAF (about 150 thousands of military personnel and 100 thousands of private security guards from 46 countries) played a demonstrative and representative role. For example, unlike the United States, whose presence in Afghanistan was originally a “crusade against terrorism”, the Bundeswehr, as the official Berlin declares, performs a “humanitarian mission” here, engaging not in combat operations, but in police training, construction of roads and schools. True, for the Taliban and al-Qaeda militants who fight with them (mainly Arabs, Chechens, Uzbeks, Tatars and Uighurs), all ISAF servicemen are unfaithful, occupying Muslims on the land and, therefore, a legitimate target.

Military-political PR

The large-scale Islamist offensive against major Afghan cities, including Kandahar and Kabul, should be expected no earlier than 2011. However, now the only provinces completely free from the presence of the Taliban and kaidists are the Tajik Panjshir and Badakhshan controlled by the Northern Alliance, occupying no more than 10% of the territory of Afghanistan. Recent statements by Vice President Joe Biden, Commander of the US Corps in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, and CIA Director Leon Panetta, on the defeat of Al-Qaida seem unjustified. The latter expands activities in the historic Khorasan, which includes Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Iran. In addition to the 55 th "Arab" brigade, its most active unit in this region - led by Abdullah Said "Lashkar al-Zil" ("Army of the Shadow") operates on the Afghan-Pakistan border, where there are more than 160 training camps and "Black Guard" bases ”Al-Qaeda’s senior bodyguard trainee. The organization united the Taliban and kaidists by setting up “field practice” for the militants from Lashkar e-Toiba, Tehrike Taliban Pakistan, Hezbe Islami Gulbuddin Hekmatyyar (clan of the Harot tribe of the Gilzai tribe) and Haqqani (clan Zadran) in the ISAF control zone ).

Preparing to leave the country, the US military, saving manpower, minimizes the very possibility of clashes with the Taliban. The operations advertised in the media as victories in the provinces of Helmand and Kandahar demonstrated that the military actions in Afghanistan had replaced "military-political PR." This tactic includes the preliminary publication of information about the direction and ultimate goal of the “strike” (which allows the militants to disperse), slow progress towards it (in the way of the Americans and the ANA, a small number of the most fanatical extremists remain) and the triumphant “under the camera” of this or that city (while maintaining the surrounding area under the control of the Taliban).

However, even if we forget about the extremely significant losses of the Afghan army, the coalition troops also suffer damage - primarily in the "mine war". It significantly exceeds the officially announced figures due to the "work" of statisticians who do not take into account a number of categories as "combat losses". A special topic is the increase in the number of suicide cases, mainly among those who have gone through at least one “mission to the war”.

The specificity of this stage is the build-up before the withdrawal of the military contingent of the coalition and its reinforcement with armored vehicles. In addition to 30, thousands of soldiers (out of the 40 thousands requested by General Stanley McChrystal, who retired on June 23 of June of this year after a scandalous interview with harsh criticism of the highest political leadership of the country) with heavy 68-ton tanks М1ХXUMUM Аbrams (earlier tan used only Danes and Canadians). The remaining members of the coalition from NATO countries pledged to increase the number of ISAF by seven thousand people, including the German contingent on 1. Not supposing to participate in hostilities, the Bundeswehr refused to use Leopard 850 tanks in favor of the Swiss Eagle IV and German Marder 2A1 tanks with enhanced mine protection (a special agreement on their transit was concluded with Russia). German units deployed in Afghanistan are reinforced by American TOW anti-tank missiles and Dutch Mobat self-propelled howitzers, whose task is to deter attackers at long range, as well as Israeli Heron 5 UAVs. The Taliban, in response, began to massively apply the easy-to-make and effective IED trap with remote control, piercing armor from a distance of 1 meters.



The passive actions of the coalition, which, as Moshtarak (February-March, Helmand) and Chief Chef (March-April, northern provinces) antiterrorist operations have shown, to real military superiority, destruction or ousting of the enemy and control over the territory, actually provided victory of the Taliban and kaidists. The consequences of this victory in the long run (not only in Afghanistan or Central Asia, but also in the entire Middle East) are much worse than the fall of one or another European government or a drop in the rating of the American president. Some - large-scale terrorist attacks in Europe and the United States, the intensification of Islamist organizations around the world, the intensification of terrorist activity in the Russian North Caucasus and the post-Soviet republics bordering Afghanistan, the explosive growth of drug trafficking from this country, the world's largest producer of opiates, are easily predictable. Others - in particular, the intensification of opposition between Shiite and Sunni radicalism with the support of "their own" from Iran and Saudi Arabia - are not so obvious, but no less destructive.

It seems doubtful that a victory over the Taliban could have been achieved by other methods than those used and used by the Taliban themselves. However, the destruction or expulsion from their homes of all those supporting them on the basis of a code of tribal solidarity of the population - a significant part of the Afghan Pashtuns, including the Ghilzais, to which the Taliban leader Mullah Omar belongs, did not even have a chance to discuss. This is evidenced by a sharp public reaction to the publication on WikiLeaks 91 713 of classified materials on Afghanistan, which provided the public with an opportunity to get acquainted with what actually happened and is happening on its territory. The question of the extent to which the rules of war adopted in the modern world are applicable to an adversary who is not constrained by the rules and supported by civilians remains unanswered.


The balance of power

Note that a comparison of the current situation with the war in Afghanistan, which led in the 80-ies of the USSR, rather in favor of Moscow. Soviet troops really fought, and did not demonstrate willingness to fight, economic assistance consisted in the construction of real objects and the road network, and not in wasting funds allocated (more than 80% of which does not reach Afghanistan), and control over the territory was more effective than that of the ISAF . In the current situation, the confrontation between the military (Pentagon) and civilian (State Department) wings of the American administration, copied by the subordinates of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "on the ground", played a cruel joke with the US, neutralizing pragmatists to please theorists trying to introduce Western democracy in Afghanistan a type as unacceptable to the local population as socialism.

The Taliban control four-fifths of the country’s territory. The attacks and rocket attacks are carried out by them in all areas formally subject to the Karzai government, including Kabul. The fighters, thanks to the passivity of coalition troops who don’t even try to destroy mountain trails, move freely across the Afghan-Pakistan borders with the support of the Pashtun tribes of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and the Federal Tribal Areas (FATA) Territory. The only really working tool to combat them, used by the ISAF, is drones. The use of UAVs for attacking objects in Afghanistan and Pakistan reduced civilian casualties, but caused a sharply negative reaction from Islamabad, including political leadership and the military. As a result, as the anti-Western sentiments increase in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the transport corridor, through which the main supply of coalition forces goes through the IRP, is under growing threat. The destruction of fuel and other cargo convoys for Pakistan in Pakistan’s practice of 2010 was a “soft response” by the Pakistani army command to Washington’s pressure on its demands to “strengthen the fight against terrorism in Pakistani territory” and “insultingly small” financial and economic assistance Islamabad.

Campaign in Afghanistan revealed the inability of NATO to win the war against the enemy, using partisan-sabotage tactics


Pakistan is worried about the strengthening of the position of the traditional regional rival of the PRI - India in Afghanistan. Delhi’s active participation in restoring the Afghan economy, transit trade and police training creates the danger of the appearance of an Indian bridgehead on Pakistan’s north-western border. The United States, despite the protests of Islamabad, welcomes Afghan-Indian cooperation (as opposed to Afghan-Iranian). President Karzai, in order to ensure his own political and physical survival after the departure of the main coalition forces, is trying to establish strong ties with everyone who wishes to. Even with “moderate” Taliban. The latter, however, ignored the Kabul peace jirga, in which 2 – 4 of June this year received 1600, who were ready to work with government delegates. But Pakistan's Inter-Agency Intelligence (ISI), in spite of the United States, is lobbying for the integration of representatives of the Taliban Quetta Shura and the Haqqani Network into the Afghan power system.

The London (28 of January) and Kabul (20 of July) conferences on Afghanistan that have passed this year have given Hamid Karzai the authority necessary to organize a dialogue (which critics consider to be capitulation to the Taliban), including the Peace and Reintegration Program in Afghanistan. Whether he can use these powers is a question. After all, national reconciliation in Afghanistan is complicated not only by the confrontation of the Pashtuns with the Tajiks and other minorities, but also by a split within the Pashtun tribes themselves: among the Taliban, the sleeve is dominated, and Hamid Karzai is the durrani from the clan popolzay. The situation for the Afghan president is complicated by the problem of refugees - the natural personnel reserve of the opposition. More than 940 of thousands of Afghans who left their homeland are registered in Iran in September (their total number in Iran, according to experts, exceeds 1,5 million people). In Pakistan, the number of migrants from Afghanistan is approaching 4 millions. At the same time, more than 2003 million people returned from Iran to Afghanistan from 1,8, and more than 2002 million from Pakistan (from 3,5).

Karzai is balancing between Pakistan, who (represented by the leadership of special services, incumbent President Ali Asef Zardari and his main rival Nawaz Sharif) at the origins of the Taliban movement and still maintaining relations with it (along with assurances of allied relations with the United States), and India , which the Taliban never recognized as the ruling regime. The contacts of the Afghan president with Tehran are less durable. Iran is not interested in the return of the Taliban to power and the strengthening of al-Qaeda hostile to Shiites. In addition to the cultural expansion in the zone of its historical influence (Herat), Tehran supports Shiite-Hazaras in Afghanistan, leads (like Russia) actively combating drug trafficking and (together with the PRI) Baluch separatism. Another major regional player - China is primarily interested in developing the natural resources of Afghanistan (having received a 30-year concession for copper mining in the Ainak Valley), monitoring drug trafficking and eliminating Uygur separatists.

The government of Afghanistan is unprofessional and corrupt, most of the governors and high-ranking officials receive the main income from the production of drugs. Hamid Karzai’s brother, the governor of Kandahar Province, Ahmad Wali Karzai, is openly accused of this. The legitimacy of the parliament and the president is questionable, and the support of the population is minimal. Already in the presidential elections in 2009, the 1,1 fraud of a million ballots for President Karzai was revealed. Following the parliamentary elections, 2010, during which around 2,5 thousands of candidates fought for 249 deputy seats in the People’s Chamber (Wolesi Jirga) - the lower house of the Afghan parliament, had to annul more than a quarter of the vote. The US attempt to introduce the principles of modern democracy in Afghanistan failed.

On the threshold of the withdrawal of coalition forces from Afghanistan and the cessation of cash flows, Hamid Karzai, despite the precariousness of his position, and perhaps precisely for this reason, demonstratively exacting to patrons and donors. At the NATO summit in Lisbon, he fought with Barack Obama, accusing 1,5 of thousands of employees of the American Embassy in Kabul that they act as an independent power structure, demanding that the nightly raids of NATO units be canceled in search of the Taliban and that foreign specialists be controlled by his government. “Putting in place” of US President Karzai failed, but he has already achieved the redistribution of donor aid in his favor. If in London it was announced that 2011 had allocated billion dollars to Afghanistan before 10,5, 30% of which was made available to the country's leadership, then in Kabul Karzai insisted that his government receive 50% of 11 billion dollars allocated to the national economy development strategy ". Note that at the Paris 2008 Conference of the Year, the Afghan government asked donors for more than 50 billions of dollars, of which 29,8 billion was “for road rehabilitation and construction, agriculture, education and health care.” Meanwhile, 40 of the billions of dollars that 2002 – 2009 had received at the disposal of Karzai and his associates from international financial institutions simply disappeared.

Moscow interests

Russia minimized losses in this area, writing off Kabul 11,2 a billion dollars of debt on unpaid military loans of the USSR and clearing calculations, and also transferring 20 thousands of machine guns and more than 2 million cartridges to the Afghan Interior Ministry. It should be noted that the complication of the position of NATO in Afghanistan has significantly advanced the cooperation of Brussels with Moscow, which is interested in ensuring the long-term stay of the alliance troops in the IRA. The growing importance of Russia for the transit of goods to Afghanistan as the difficulties on the Pakistani route worsened and the constructive interaction with the Russian Federation in the post-Soviet republics of Central Asia explains the positive changes in the leadership position of the United States and NATO as a whole with regard to the participation of the Russian Federation in a collective missile defense system, and in the long run, perhaps and in the collective security system of Europe.

The agreement to intensify the joint struggle of Russia and NATO against Afghan drug trafficking is another direction that throughout the entire period of the “war on international terrorism” was ignored by the coalition forces. Deliveries of opiates (and cannabis) to the world market are the main source of funding not only for the corrupt authorities of Afghanistan, but also for terrorist organizations operating on its territory. However, over the years, Moscow’s calls to halt the development of the Afghan drug business have been ignored by Washington and Brussels. Evidence that the situation has changed was a special operation conducted in Afghanistan at the end of October with the participation of the relevant departments of the Russian Federation and the United States, during which morphine and three heroin laboratories were eliminated, more than 900 kilograms of heroin and over 150 kilograms of opiates were destroyed.

In the end, whatever role Russia has played in cooperation with the Central Asian republics, the United States, NATO or individual countries that are members of the alliance to stabilize the situation in Afghanistan is entirely in line with the national interests of our country. Moreover, the Russian troops in Afghanistan will not be sent under any circumstances, as stated by the country's leadership. And this is the main point.
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