How badly has Canada failed Afghanistan?

View previous topic View next topic Go down

How badly has Canada failed Afghanistan?

Post by Trooper on Thu 01 Jun 2017, 16:27

How badly has Canada failed Afghanistan?

The massive bombing in Kabul underscores how far the country has fallen as security has collapsed and foreign aid evaporated

Adnan R. Khan

June 1, 2017

Damaged cars are seen after a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan, on May 31, 2017.

For the first time since 2006, Canada’s diplomats were reminded just how precarious their position is in Afghanistan. In January of that year, Glyn Berry, a veteran foreign affairs official, was killed after a Canadian military convoy was hit by a suicide bomber in Kandahar province.

The Canadians then had only just begun their combat mission into the heart of the Afghan war after agreeing to assume security control of Kandahar. His death was a tragic outcome of the Sisyphean challenge Canada had taken on.

But the May 31 truck bombing in one of the Afghan capital’s most heavily guarded districts—a one-square-kilometre area packed with more than a dozen embassies, including Canada’s, the headquarters of the Afghan national intelligence directorate, the foreign ministry, and the presidential palace—says infinitely more about where Afghanistan stands today.

Berry’s death was in some ways prophetic: it reminded Canada that Kandahar would be like nothing else our military had encountered. Yesterday’s attack is a reminder that everything Canada sacrificed during that costly deployment may have come to naught.

The Taliban controls more of Afghanistan today than at any other time since its regime was toppled at the end of 2001. The so-called Islamic State has made inroads into the country while criminal gangs rule the streets in most cities. Kidnapping for ransom has become so widespread that foreigners in the capital have been reduced to prisoners in their own homes and workplaces, rarely if ever experiencing the joy of meeting Afghans at marketplaces and teashops. Blast walls have gone higher, doors have become thicker and most compounds now come with safe rooms pre-installed.

Those precautions likely saved the lives of foreigners when a sewage tanker packed with a reported one tonne of explosives detonated a mere 400 metres from the Canadian embassy, on the doorstep of the German diplomatic mission and in the middle of the morning rush hour. Nearly 100 people, all Afghans, died, while over 400 more were injured. The force of the blast carved out a four-metre-deep crater, shook homes five kilometres away and badly damaged the main building on the German grounds, despite the 3-metre high blast walls surrounding it.

The Canadian embassy sustained “significant damage,” Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a statement, though no one was reportedly injured.

No one has taken responsibility for the bombing, though Afghanistan’s intelligence services were quick to lay the blame on the Haqqani network and their backers in Pakistan. The Taliban, which claims to speak for the Haqqanis, denied they were involved, as they often do when attacks attributed to them result in high civilian casualties. Most experts agree ISIS does not possess the capabilities in Afghanistan to mount such a sophisticated operation. Their networks are limited to the east of the country bordering Pakistan.

But the lingering questions over who carried out the attack mask a more pressing issue: regardless of the culprit, someone was able to drive a truck bomb undetected into one of Kabul’s most important districts. Questions are now being raised over how that could happen.
“The investigation is looking at weaknesses in the security procedures,” an interior ministry official told Maclean’s, on condition of anonymity. “There are some early indications that the attackers may have received help from elements inside the security forces.”
Taliban and ISIS militants lurking inside Afghanistan’s police and army has become a serious problem for Afghan authorities. But the rot, according to security experts, runs much deeper. As the foreign presence in Afghanistan has dwindled, foreign aid has slowed to a trickle. Thousands of Afghans who once made a decent living working for what used to be the world’s largest development operation now find themselves out of work and desperate.

Corruption is rampant, an enemy “just as insidious” as the Taliban and ISIS, Kenneth Neufeld, Canada’s Ambassador to Afghanistan, told Maclean’s last April. Part of Canada’s commitment to Afghanistan—$450 million over the next three years—is intended to tackle the problem, he added, with half the money earmarked for security, including paying the salaries of security personnel.
It’s a start, but according to UN figures, falls well short of what is needed. Afghan police officers remain some of the most underpaid and badly trained in the world. Their literacy rate is stuck at a dismal 20 per cent, and officers can still be found moonlighting as taxi drivers and labourers.

The Taliban, and now increasingly ISIS affiliates, are comparatively flush with cash, offering in some cases upwards of $950 a month to new recruits, according to locals in Taliban-controlled areas.

The Afghan government simply cannot compete. It finds itself caught in a feedback loop in which increasing insecurity is leading to more donor flight leading to more insecurity. Foreigners have all but disappeared from public view, leaving Afghans exposed to attacks while requests for NATO countries to offer more troops have fallen on deaf ears.

Wednesday’s bombing was a macabre clarion call: Afghanistan is facing its worst summer of discontent since the international community intervened to free Afghans from the oppressive Taliban regime more than 15 years ago. If we are not willing to do more to stabilize the country, we are dooming Afghanistan to an even worse fate.

CSAT Member

Number of posts : 5254
Location : New Brunswick
Registration date : 2013-02-18

Back to top Go down

Re: How badly has Canada failed Afghanistan?

Post by Bruce72 on Thu 01 Jun 2017, 18:10

Canada should join its closest allies and return to Afghanistan: Michael Petrou

Afghanistan needs the sort of training we once provided — the training Trudeau says this country is so good at

Last week, during the NATO summit in Brussels, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ruled out sending Canadian troops back to Afghanistan — despite requests from NATO commanders that member states contribute more soldiers to an ongoing training mission.

"Canada has always been recognized as one of the go-to partners in NATO," Trudeau said, while essentially suggesting the alliance "go to" some other partner because Canada has already done its share.

This is a mistake. Afghanistan — a country that 158 Canadian soldiers died defending — is teetering on the edge of a dark abyss.

On Wednesday morning, a vehicle bomb in the diplomatic quarter of the capital, Kabul, killed at least 90 people and wounded hundreds. Reports suggested most of the dead are civilians. The Canadian embassy suffered "significant damage," according to a spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, though Trudeau said Canadian embassy staff are safe and accounted for. More than 360 people have died in attacks in Kabul since last June. This attack appears to be the deadliest.

Even without Canada's participation, Operation Resolute Support — NATO's support mission in Afghanistan — is NATO's largest current deployment, one that involves 13,000 personnel from member states and partner nations. It's a priority for the alliance. And Canada is particularly well-suited to it. Trudeau's past rhetoric suggests he knows as much.

While attempting to explain back in 2015 why he would end Canadian airstrikes against the so-called Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, Trudeau said Canada would instead offer what it has "demonstrated tremendous ability at in Afghanistan and elsewhere: training local troops doing the fighting on the ground."

Now Afghanistan needs the sort of training Canada once provided; the training Trudeau says this country is so good at.

Lingering instability

Wednesday's atrocity in Kabul is only the most recent that Afghanistan has suffered in the past few months. The Taliban, which has denied responsibility for the bombing, is resurgent. A newly established branch of ISIS has launched numerous attacks in Kabul. Afghanistan's security forces are better than they once were, but are still unable to secure their country without help.

The "tremendous ability" Canada demonstrated in Afghanistan did not come easily. It grew out of more than a decade of battlefield and training experience, mistakes, learning, adjusting and sacrifice.

That makes the call to return there difficult to accept. Canadians can look at the ongoing insurgency, the corruption, the lack of a political settlement on the horizon and wonder what was the point of intervening there in the first place.

But this ignores what has been accomplished. For all the setbacks and frustrations, Afghanistan is a more hopeful place today than it was on September 10, 2001.

Fewer infants and mothers die. Afghanistan's infant mortality rate was 95 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2000. In 2015, it was 66 deaths for every 1,000 births. What's more, Afghanistan is no longer the base for international terrorism that it was before al-Qaeda was routed (though inroads made by ISIS could change that). There has been a peaceful and democratic transfer of power for the first time in the country's history. And while far fewer girls probably attend school than the Afghan government has claimed, it's clear that far more do than would if the Taliban still ruled Kabul.

Giving up on Afghanistan also avoids confronting just how long it often takes to end insurgencies and civil wars and rebuild nations. In Colombia, a peace deal last year concluded a conflict that had persisted for more than five decades.

Progress in Afghanistan will be measured in generations. And long-term progress requires long-term commitments. Canadian soldiers' deployments in Afghanistan, generally six-month tours, were too short. Understanding a mission and nurturing relationships with locals take time, and a constant rotation of troops undermines this process. But over the years Canada was in Afghanistan, it built expertise and institutional memory. Afghanistan, and Canada's NATO partners in that country, would benefit from that now.

For a while, it seemed that Trudeau would instead put what Canada learned in Afghanistan to use in a United Nations peacekeeping mission somewhere in Africa, probably Mali, a country the UN is trying to stabilize in the face of an Islamist insurgency.

Trudeau appears to have developed cold feet of late, recently noting Canadians have a "difficult history in Africa as peacekeepers" and cautioning that he would not "fast-track" a decision to send Canadian soldiers there, despite previously expressing great eagerness to do just that.

Afghanistan needs Canada's help

Still, Canada's participation in a UN peacekeeping mission in Africa at least remains on the table for Trudeau, while a return to Afghanistan is something he says he won't consider.  

Trudeau last year pledged to "revitalize" Canada's role in peacekeeping, something that would allow him to differentiate his foreign policy from that of his predecessor, Stephen Harper. And he likely sees Canadian participation in UN missions as a way to bolster Canada's bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council in 2021.

But such considerations shouldn't influence where troops are deployed. Canada's ties to Afghanistan are stronger than are those to Mali. The need for Canada's help is greater there. And Canada's obligations to NATO — despite Trudeau's evident fondness for the idea of peacekeeping, if not its messy reality — are more important than is Ottawa's commitment to the United Nations. Canada should join its closest allies and return to Afghanistan.

CSAT Member

Number of posts : 650
Location : Ontario
Registration date : 2014-03-13

Back to top Go down

Re: How badly has Canada failed Afghanistan?

Post by nemo on Fri 02 Jun 2017, 00:35

The thing is is that Afghanistan will NEVER be peaceful. It will never be without Islamic terrorists. So the West can push all the troops it wants to Afghanistan, but the west does not have the capacity to bring peace to a lawless region spilling over with islamists. Not going to happen. Ever. So how many decades should we spend there? Forever? It does not matter how many and how long you train Afghanis, they will never be ready and never have enough security/military personnel. We won't change the mindset of people who believe what they do thanks to islam. And you can't trust many of the security/military personnel either. You never know when they will turn and attack you. And I don't care how the author of the article paints it, Afghanistan is not much better than it was in 2001.

CSAT Member

Number of posts : 274
Location : canada
Registration date : 2010-08-13

Back to top Go down

Re: How badly has Canada failed Afghanistan?

Post by bigrex on Fri 02 Jun 2017, 10:53

I agree that we should not return to Afghanistan, because the people, not the government, do not want us there. So when we end up fighting the people of a country, for every hostile that we kill, even in combat, we create an enemy of every one of his family. And it isn't just the locals that we would be fighting. They will bring in fighters from all over the middle east.
CSAT Member

Number of posts : 3078
Location : Halifax, Nova Scotia
Registration date : 2008-09-18

Back to top Go down

Re: How badly has Canada failed Afghanistan?

Post by nemo on Fri 02 Jun 2017, 11:27

Agree Bigrex. We will never win over there. What's the answer for places like that? There isn't any.

CSAT Member

Number of posts : 274
Location : canada
Registration date : 2010-08-13

Back to top Go down

View previous topic View next topic Back to top

- Similar topics

Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum