WHITHER AFGHANISTAN IN 2014?
"A new American intelligence assessment on the Afghan war predicts that the gains the United States and its allies have made during the past three years are likely to have been significantly eroded by 2017, even if Washington leaves behind a few thousand troops and continues bankrolling the impoverished nation, according to officials familiar with the report. The National Intelligence Estimate, which includes input from the country’s 16 intelligence agencies, predicts that the Taliban and other power brokers will become increasingly influential as the United States winds down its longest war in history, according to officials who have read the classified report or received briefings on its conclusions. The grim outlook is fueling a policy debate inside the Obama administration about the steps it should take over the next year as the U.S. military draws down its remaining troops. The report predicts that Afghanistan would likely descend into chaos quickly if Washington and Kabul don’t sign a security pact that would keep an international military contingent there beyond 2014 — a precondition for the delivery of billions of dollars in aid that the United States and its allies have pledged to spend in Afghanistan over the coming years. “In the absence of a continuing presence and continuing financial support,” the intelligence assessment “suggests the situation would deteriorate very rapidly,” said one U.S. official familiar with the report. That conclusion is widely shared among U.S. officials working on Afghanistan, said the official, who was among five people familiar with the report who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity to discuss the assessment. Some officials have taken umbrage at the underlying pessimism in the report, arguing that it does not adequately reflect how strong Afghanistan’s security forces have become. One American official, who described the NIE as “more dark” than past intelligence assessments on the war, said there are too many uncertainties to make an educated prediction on how the conflict will unfold between now and 2017, chief among them the outcome of next year’s presidential election."Ernesto Londoño, Karen DeYoung and Greg Miller, "Afghanistan gains will be lost quickly after drawdown, U.S. intelligence estimate warns". The Washington Post. 28 December 2013, in www.washingtonpost.com.
"Afghanistan on Monday rejected as baseless a U.S. intelligence forecast that the gains the United States and allies have made in the past three years will be significantly rolled back by 2017. The U.S. National Intelligence Estimate also predicted that Afghanistan would fall into chaos if Washington and Kabul failed to sign a pact to keep an international military contingent there beyond 2014. President Hamid Karzai's spokesman dismissed the U.S. forecast, reported by the Washington Post on the weekend, and suggested there was an ulterior motive for it. "We strongly reject that as baseless as they have in the past been proved inaccurate," Faizi told Reuters. Relations between Afghanistan and the United States have grown seriously strained recently by Karzai's refusal to sign the security pact that would permit some U.S. forces to stay. U.S. officials have said that unless a deal is reached to keep perhaps 8,000 U.S. troops, the Taliban might stage a major comeback and al Qaeda could regain safe havens. The pact must also be signed for the United States and its allies to provide billions more dollars in aid. Without a deal, the United States could pull out all troops, the so-called zero option, leaving Afghan forces to battle the Taliban on their own".Hamid Shalizi, "Afghanistan rejects grim U.S. intelligence forecast as baseless". Reuters. 30 December 2013, in www.reuters.com. Ordinarily one would not disagree with the Afghan President Karzai's spokesman that the leak of the National Intelligence Estimate ) was for purposes of putting additional pressure on Karzai to sign the security pact which would provide the legal basis for an American and NATO presence in the country after the end of the current calendar year. However, given the jujitsu tactics and verbal pyrotechnics that the Afghan President is accustomed to treating his allies with, one is left to wonder if in fact that leak was for purposes of preparing the ground for an American scuttle. Making it absolutely clear that upon the completion of the same, no one could claim ignorance of the fact that the current regime in power in Kabul will rapidly lose control of large portions of the country. My own surmise is that the releases purpose is a combination of the two. That on the one hand it clearly reminds Karzai, et. al., that sans an agreement the Americans will probably (just as in the case of Iraq) withdraw almost all of their troops and advisors from this wretched nation tout de suite. On the other hand, given the fact that the same American Administration will be in power circa 2015-2016, it behooves it to state clearly beforehand the outcome what will likely occur once the Americans vacate tutte quanti from Afghanistan. Given the fact that the greatly improved performance of the Afghan army is highly dependent upon American air power, advisors and money, it is difficult to imagine how long this force will remain a coherent and unitary fighting force once cut off from American largess and support. Which is not to per se agree with the argument that foresees an immediately collapse of the current arrangements governing the country and a Taliban victory. More likelier than not, there will be a prolonged period of civil war, akin to what occurred back in 1991-1994. An extremely unfortunate outcome, nay almost a tragedy. Particularly for the poor people of this miserable place on the map. However, whether this outcome is a dangerous one for world peace is another matter entirely. Only time and the immediate outcome of a new civil war in Afghanistan will show if that will be true or not.