KABUL: Nato’s rush to get out of a “quagmire” in Afghanistan risks the collapse of the state and strategic failure for the Western alliance in its decade-long war, a former EU adviser has warned.
“The intervention veered from ‘too little too late’ in its crucial early years, to one of ‘too much too late’,” says Barbara Stapleton, who was deputy to the EU special representative for Afghanistan, in a report.
The report for the independent Afghanistan Analysts Network, entitled “Beating a Retreat”, comes ahead of a Nato summit in Chicago that will hammer out details of the withdrawal of some 130,000 troops by the end of 2014.
Stapleton criticises the inflexibility of the deadline, saying the transition of security to Afghan control “cannot be divorced from actual conditions on the ground with respect to security, governance and development”.
“The idea that the official transition timeline can generate even minimally conducive conditions on the Afghan ground — that would substantiate claims that the transition strategy can succeed — is a delusion,” she writes.
Implementation of the transition without these conditions being taken into account, “increases the risk of the Afghan state’s collapse and with it, the prospect of strategic failure for Nato”.
After the 9/11 attacks in 2001, the United States led an invasion of Afghanistan to topple the Taliban regime for harbouring al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden — and has been fighting an insurgency by the hardline Islamists ever since.
With the long war increasingly unpopular in the West, Nato set 2014 as the deadline for pulling its combat troops out, while training some 350,000 Afghan security forces to take over the fight.
“In the rush to get out of the quagmire that Afghanistan has become, the US and other Nato member states may be preparing the ground for more instability there, rather than less,” Stapleton says.
The Afghan government will take to the Nato summit on Sunday a firm demand for $4.1 billion a year for its security forces after Western troops pull out — insisting that it is an investment for the West’s own security.
“This is not charity, Afghanistan is and will be on the frontline of the world’s fight against terrorism,” Deputy Foreign Minister Jawed Ludin told foreign journalists ahead of the summit. AFP