KEY MESSAGES ON THE PRESENT SITUATION IN AFGHANISTAN
I. Overall Situation
Afghanistan has just successfully completed its constitutional loya jirga. While this three-week process
was at times difficult, and the product imperfect, the drafting of a new constitution is an important landmark.
The next major step in Afghanistan’s transition will be elections, with at least presidential elections likely to
be held before September 2004. While there is a new sense of hope in Afghanistan, there is also a growing
understanding of just how massive a challenge the economic and political reconstruction of the country is.
The two biggest concerns of Afghans and their international allies are: a) ...view middle of the document...
In general, security in Kabul is better than
elsewhere, thanks to ISAF/NATO, but even Kabul is dangerous as seen in suicide bombing attacks against
German, Canadian and British ISAF forces. Beyond the threat of extremist elements opposed to the Karzai
government and the large number of militias operating outside the government’s control, the greatest threat
to Afghanistan’s future stability is the production and processing of opium poppies, which has now spread to
28 of the country’s 32 provinces.
A. Afghan Solutions
There is universal agreement that the solution to Afghanistan’s security problems must be led by
Afghans and rooted in Afghan realities. However, it is very clear that the transitional Afghan government
currently lacks the necessary capacity and cannot ensure the country’s security without the support of the
international community. International efforts to date to address the most pressing security concerns and
build Afghan security capacity have been inadequate and must be accelerated going forward. The most critical
areas of intervention in the security arena are : 1) Training of the police and the Afghan National Army (ANA).
The training of the forces continues to advance slowly and drop-out rates are high. Currently the ANA has only
5.000-7,000 soldiers under its control, far fewer than the leading warlords ; 2) In parallel, progress to date in
the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) program is also slow. To speed up this process,
Coalition forces should end their reliance on militias to support their operations, and more opportunities must
be provided for both men and women to increase family incomes through other means ; and 3) More attention
and resources must be focused on the drug economy, which now constitutes nearly half of the national
economy. Such efforts should focus less on small farmers involved in poppy production and more on those
involved in the processing and smuggling of opium.
B. Role of the International Community
Afghans are a proud people, with a long history of opposing foreign military occupation. They are also
a people exhausted by nearly 25 years of non-stop conflict. Most Afghan appear to accept, and even support, a
temporary role for international forces in Afghanistan, provided that they are seen as serving Afghan interests
rather than pursuing an open-ended occupation. The current foreign military presence in Afghanistan consists
of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) under NATO command and U.S.-led Coalition forces.
1. U.S.-Led Coalition
The U.S.-led Coalition forces that unseated the Taliban in 2001 continue to maintain a significant
(10.000+) presence in Afghanistan. In addition to regular operations against Taliban and Al Qaeda remnants,
these forces have undertaken reconstruction activities through Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs). The
manner in which soldiers have mixed combat, intelligence, and “humanitarian” actions has...