A question of belief 79

The Washington Post reports:

In theory, the Afghan government is in place in Kandahar, but its authority is nominal. Bombings and assassinations have left the government largely isolated behind concrete barricades and blast walls. In the latest burst of violence, a suicide squad struck across the city late Saturday, detonating bombs at a recently fortified prison, the police headquarters and two other sites … At least 30 people were killed.

For the first time in years, however, the U.S. military again has Kandahar in its sights.

American troops are seeking to reclaim the city and surrounding province, where the Taliban has proved resurgent, more than eight years after the U.S.-led invasion forced the group from power. But a visit here last week made clear that American forces will face an insidious enemy that operates mainly in the shadows and exercises indirect control through intimidation and by instilling fear. The provincial governor remains mostly behind barricades. The provincial council has trouble convening because many members have fled to Kabul. The police are viewed as ill-trained, corrupt and possibly in league with criminal gangs.

The environment here [is] more complicated than the one the Marines have encountered in neighboring Helmand province and the town of Marja, where the Afghan government’s presence was nonexistent and where Taliban fighters were massed in large numbers. The Marines took Marja with relative ease, installing a governor handpicked by the Kabul government.

In Kandahar city, residents say, real power rests with Ahmed Wali Karzai, head of the council and the younger brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Ahmed Karzai has been accused of vote rigging and involvement in the drug trade, allegations he has consistently denied. The eight judges still working in the city and province live together for security, packed into an impregnable compound, behind gray concrete walls topped with razor wire. …

If Kandahar city is sliding into lawlessness, the surrounding province appears in even worse shape. In the city, the government has retreated behind concrete barricades; in much of the countryside, there is no government presence. …

Haji Raz Mohammed, president of a district council, said he regularly negotiates with the Taliban to prevent its fighters from destroying development projects. “The Taliban is there, the Americans are there, the government is there,” he said, “But nobody is really in control of the district.”

To operate so easily, in the city and the province, the Taliban must rely on some level of local support. …

“The majority of people say they are afraid of the Taliban,” said a paid adviser to the government’s reconciliation commission in Kandahar. “But they are better than the government, because the government is so corrupt.”

We are to understand that “the coalition forces” – ie America and Britain  – will win the war in Afghanistan; that the lives lost and the blood shed to turn Afghanistan into a peaceful democratic country have not been sacrificed in vain. We have to try to believe that Afghanistan will soon have a government that is no more corrupt than most western governments are; that the traditionally warring tribes will from  then on forget their old hatreds and live peacefully with one another; that there will be no, or at least much less, drug trading; that the criminal gangs will become less of a danger; that the police will be well-trained and less corrupt; that the Taliban will give up its passionate warfare and bow to the democratically elected government; that the whole miserable place will become something like Surrey or California.

Or what?

And who can believe it?

Posted under Afghanistan, Commentary, Islam, Muslims, Terrorism, United States, War by Jillian Becker on Sunday, March 14, 2010

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