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NATO’s New Strategy in Afghanistan

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Behzad Ahmadi Lafuraki 

Active ImageAfghanistan crisis has emerged as the biggest test for NATO in its entire 60-year track record and few analysts maintain that the organization has been successful in that country. The current situation in Afghanistan precludes any prediction on the future and insecurity is so widespread that the Taliban has already gained footholds in south and southeast Afghanistan and has even penetrated the more secure north. The government of Karzai seems to be unable to provide security and Afghans have no hope in establishment of justice and security. The Americans and European leaders have found out that they have failed to fulfill their promises and do not seem possible to fulfill them in the near future. Therefore, security has turned into a riddle in Afghanistan and the more responsibility has been given to NATO, the less has been its ability to provide security. On the whole, it seems that the United States and Europe have reached the conclusion that they need a new long-term strategy which would guarantee more commitment to Afghanistan on the part of Western countries under a more powerful international command.

The new strategy announced by the American and European officials has chosen “war on terror and establishment of security” and “political effort combined with economic progress” as its axial mottos. According to that multifaceted approach, the current situation in Afghanistan should change to prevent further advances of the Taliban and give more power to the central government. The important point with regard to the said approach is the emphasis it puts on a political solution and use of military might in the form of NATO and US forces to get along with it. Within that strategy, NATO is planning to summon more forces from such countries as Germany and France and deploy them in south and southeast Afghanistan. In parallel to deployment of forces, security measures have been taken to put more pressure on the Taliban and convince them to join negotiations.

Active ImageIt seems that parts of the West’s new strategy in Afghanistan conform to Iran’s policies in that country and will be welcomed by Tehran. One of them is to delegate more power to Afghanistan officials and withdrawal of foreign troops. The second positive point is attention to the role of Afghanistan’s neighbors in stability in that country which is in line with Iran’s desires. The third focus of the new strategy is reconstruction of infrastructures. Tehran has paid serious attention to Afghanistan and has undertaken heavy responsibilities for reconstruction of the country. If the West availed of Iran’s experiences, it would have been better off to implement its new strategy. Implementation of the said strategy is faced with many obstacles like absence of a solid political strategy in Afghanistan and ambiguity surrounding priorities. Other problems include incompatibilities between the US and European policies, obscurity of hierarchies and parallel institutional activities. However, the new strategy is a new opportunity which may end in positive results.

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