October 6, 2007
Afghanistan: Post-War Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy
From the summary of the Congressional Research Service's Afghanistan: Post-War Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy (Updated September 10, 2007):
Assessments of the U.S. effort to stabilize Afghanistan are mixed. The political transition was completed with the convening of a parliament in December 2005, but since 2006 insurgent threats to Afghanistan’s government have escalated. In the political process, a new constitution was adopted in January 2004, successful presidential elections were held on October 9, 2004, and parliamentary elections took place on September 18, 2005. The parliament has become an arena for factions that have fought each other for nearly three decades to debate and peacefully resolve differences. Afghan citizens are enjoying personal freedoms forbidden by the Taliban. Women are participating in economic and political life, including as ministers, provincial governors, and parliament leaders.
In 2006 and 2007, the insurgency led by remnants of the former Taliban regime has escalated after four years of relatively minor violence. Contributing to the renewed violence is popular frustration with lack of economic development, official corruption, and the failure to extend Afghan government authority into rural areas. Narcotics trafficking is resisting counter-measures and funding insurgent activity. The Afghan government and some U.S. officials blame Pakistan for failing to prevent Taliban commanders from operating from Pakistan, largely beyond the reach of U.S./NATO-led forces in Afghanistan. U.S. and NATO commanders anticipated a Taliban 2007 “spring offensive” and moved to preempt it with an increase in force levels and accelerated reconstruction efforts, possibly contributing to a lower level – and changing texture – of combat than expected. However, the Taliban has responded by shifting toward the use of suicide bombings, kidnappings, and other tactics used by insurgents in Iraq. U.S. and NATO forces have also killed a few key Taliban battlefield leaders in 2007, and pro-Taliban insurgent leader Gulbuddin Hikmatyar declared a cease-fire with the government on July 19, 2007. U.S. and partner stabilization measures include strengthening the central government and its security forces. The United States and other countries are building an Afghan National Army, deploying a 39,000 troop NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) that now commands peacekeeping throughout Afghanistan, and running regional enclaves to secure reconstruction (Provincial Reconstruction Teams, PRTs). Approximately 27,000 U.S. troops are in Afghanistan, of which all but about 12,000 are under NATO/ISAF command. To build security institutions and assist reconstruction, the United States has given Afghanistan over $21 billion since the fall of the Taliban, including funds to equip and train Afghan security forces. Breakdowns are shown in the several tables at the end of this paper.
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