Thursday, May 1, 2008

AFGHANISTAN: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED?

PROGRESS REPORT In a press conference, President Bush said, "I think we're making progress in Afghanistan" -- days after President Hamid Karzai was the subject of an attempted assassination plot. The Interior Ministry said the Taliban, nearly vanquished from the country in 2001, admitted to launching the attack. These rounds of violence are the latest in what has been an eroding situation over recent years. . .

2007 was the bloodiest year in Afghanistan since 2001, with 6,000 killed in the country. Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser, who commands U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said violence in 2008 "may well reach a higher level than it did in 2007," as insurgents pour in from Pakistan. "This year won't be different," he said. The attempted assassination of Karzai "came as the latest sign of a trend" that the insurgency in Afghanistan "is spreading from the Taliban stronghold of the south to the central and northern regions of the country," Christian Science Monitor reported this week. Furthermore, "there is no security force in Afghanistan that people trust," according to member of parliament Ramazan Bashardost. He added that, after a recent attack, "the security forces fled the area before the ordinary people did." Afghanistan also has rates of illiteracy "among the highest in the world," a "weak and corruption-ridden government," and still retains the world's largest opium poppy crop.

According the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief, "Western countries have failed to deliver $10 billion of nonmilitary assistance pledged to Afghanistan over the last six years and the United States, by far the biggest donor, is responsible for half of the shortfall." Funding for Provincial Reconstruction Teams, which Bush "has called the leading edge of stabilization efforts," is "ad hoc and comes from so many sources that congressional investigators were unable to determine how much has been spent," a House Armed Service Committee report said last week. Overall, 42 percent of Afghans rate U.S. efforts in Afghanistan positively," down from 68 percent in 2005 and 57 percent last year, according to a December ABC News poll.

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