US studies fear Afghan decline to
By Paul Eckert, Asia Correspondent
WASHINGTON, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Afghanistan risks reverting to a
failed state and a haven for global terrorism without new U.S.
and international efforts to win the war and deliver economic
development, two studies said on Wednesday.
Afghanistan's failure would deal a strategic defeat to the U.S.
fight against Islamic extremism that would destabilize
neighboring Pakistan and threaten the future of NATO, the
"Urgent changes are required now to prevent Afghanistan from
becoming a failing or failed state," said a report by the
Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank.
"If Afghanistan fails, the possible strategic consequences will
worsen regional instability, do great harm to the fight against
Jihadist and religious extremism, and put in grave jeopardy
NATO's future as a credible, cohesive and relevant military
alliance," it said.
NATO has taken over a large part of the fight against the
radical Islamic Taliban, which was ousted from power by a
U.S.-led invasion in 2001 for giving sanctuary to Osama bin
Laden's al Qaeda. But it has fought back strongly beginning last
Separately, the Afghanistan Study Group warned that "the mission
to stabilize Afghanistan is faltering" amid renewed violence,
rising opium production and falling Afghan confidence in their
government and its international partners.
"The prospect of again losing significant parts of Afghanistan
to the forces of Islamic extremists has moved from the
improbable to the possible," the group said in a report produced
by non-governmental experts and published by the
Washington-based Center for the Study of the Presidency.
DECOUPLE IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN
The two studies recommended the United States step up the fight
against the Taliban and other insurgents in Afghanistan, get
reluctant NATO allies to commit more troops, redouble efforts to
spur economic development, fight the opium trade and promote
judicial and other government reforms in Kabul.
The Atlantic Council urged the United Nations to name a high
representative for Afghanistan. It lamented the setback to
international coordination efforts when British politician Paddy
Ashdown dropped his candidacy to be the U.N. "super envoy" in
the face of a veto by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Afghanistan Study Group co-chairman Thomas Pickering told the
Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee Ashdown's rejection was a
"nail in the coffin" in coordination. He recommended an "eminent
persons group" be launched for Afghanistan.
Pickering, a retired U.S. diplomat, said the study group
supported "decoupling" the war campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan
and devoting equal energy to the latter fight
"Afghanistan has hovered too long under the shadow of Iraq," he
said. "It has its own strategic importance."
The reports come amid discord among NATO allies over
Afghanistan, where 120,000 Afghan troops back 50,000 foreign
troops under the command of NATO and the U.S. military.
Canada has threatened to pull out its 2,500 troops early next
year unless NATO contributes more soldiers.
The United States has 29,000 troops in Afghanistan and earlier
this month ordered another 3,200 Marines to be deployed there
after conceding efforts to persuade other NATO members to send
more troops had failed.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said he had not seen
the studies, but rejected the notion of a failing state.
"We know what a failed state in Afghanistan looks like -- that
was Afghanistan under the Taliban prior to October 2001.
Afghanistan today does not look like that," he said. (Additional
reporting by Arshad Mohammad and Kristin Roberts; editing by
Click on "comments" below to read or post comments
Be succinct, constructive and
relevant to the story.
We encourage engaging, diverse
and meaningful commentary. Do not include
personal information such as names, addresses,
phone numbers and emails. Comments falling
outside our guidelines – those including
personal attacks and profanity – are not
See our complete
use this link to notify us if you have concerns
about a comment.
We’ll promptly review and remove any
Send Page To a Friend
with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material
is distributed without profit to those who have
expressed a prior interest in receiving the
included information for research and educational
purposes. Information Clearing House has no
affiliation whatsoever with the originator of
this article nor is Information ClearingHouse
endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)