NATO Commander: Afghanistan Near Anarchy genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Opium crops in Afghanistan

While the Bush administration touts the war on terror as "democracy on the march", NATO's commander believes Afghanistan is "close to anarchy". Many have argued that the U.S. shifted efforts and resources to the Iraq invasion before having completed the job in Afghanistan. Thought Theater previously reported on the situation in the troubled country here. Read the full story on the NATO assessment at The Guardian here.

The assumption within Nato countries had been that the environment in Afghanistan after the defeat of the Taliban in 2002 would be benign, Gen Richards said. "That is clearly not the case," he said yesterday. He referred to disputes between tribes crossing the border with Pakistan, and divisions between religious and secular factions cynically manipulated by "anarcho-warlords".

Corrupt local officials were fuelling the problem and Nato's provincial reconstruction teams in Afghanistan were sending out conflicting signals, Gen Richards told a conference at the Royal United Services Institute in London. "The situation is close to anarchy," he said, referring in particular to what he called "the lack of unity between different agencies".

The picture Gen Richards painted yesterday contrasted markedly with optimistic comments by ministers when they agreed earlier this month to send reinforcements to southern Afghanistan at the request of British commanders there. Many of those will be engineers with the task of appealing to Afghan "hearts and minds" by repairing the infrastructure, including irrigation systems.

General Sir Mike Jackson, the head of the British army, said recently: "To physically eradicate [opium poppies] before all the conditions are right seems to me to be counter-productive." The government admits that Helmand province is about to produce a bumper poppy crop and is now probably the biggest single source of heroin in the world. Ministers are concerned about criticism the government will face if planting over the next few months for next year's crop - in an area patrolled by British troops - is not significantly reduced.

Clearly, without added infrastructure and economic assistance, the country will continue to be the largest opium producer in the world. Unfortunately, in the absence of other types of economic development, the population will remain dependent upon the illegal crops as one of the few sources of income. The lack of progress in the absence of a strong security presence has made the country vulnerable to a resurgence of Taliban activity and influence.

Daniel DiRito | July 22, 2006 | 7:36 AM
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Comments

1 On March 4, 2007 at 6:18 PM, wilwarinvega wrote —

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I would like u to drop by, and maybe leave some comments so we could have a discussion.
I am a students of Journalism in London, but I am originally Italian^^(Like u, ah?)

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Bye bye
ceci

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