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Afghanistan War Weekly July 11, 2010
The war is now entering what is traditionally the season of most intense fighting. US casualty figures (chart below) are running about twice what they were a year ago, with an average of 2-3 US troops and 1-2 other NATO troops being killed each day. As the US congressional elections approach – and as Afghanistan prepares for a significant meeting of international donors and supporters on July 20 – the war managers have little to show for all their efforts so far.
Many of the news articles/essays linked below describe one or another of the war managers’ failures to persuade the Afghanistan government and population to fight the war Washington wants. Training is not only going nowhere, but much of what the training has “produced” is simply a faked. President Karzai is so far resisting General Petraeus’s demand to establish village-based militias, as he did in Iraq. A survey shows that the level of corruption continues to rise in Afghanistan and is a major popular grievance, with the average bribe running several times a working-person’s monthly income. Civilian casualties show no sign of diminishing, and the war managers are under pressure to remove existing restraints on the kind of bombing, etc. that kills civilians.
Several articles linked blow assess the war-fighting contribution of British troops, at a time of transition to US command and a new, less-hazardous base area for the British. Along with an interesting report on the morale of Australian troops, these articles give an insight into how the war has damaged soldiers of US allies who are fighting Washington’s war simply for reasons of elite diplomacy, not for defending their countries.
If you are short of time this week and can only look at a few things, I suggest the Tom Engelhardt essay (just below); the short video with US troops talking about “rules of engagement”; Juan Cole’s essay on the background to anti-US/antiwar demonstrations in Mazar-I Sharif; and Robert Koehler’s essay on legal and philosophical problems re: using drones as assassination weapons.
Finally, a reminder that this and previous “issues” of the Afghanistan War Weekly can be found on the website of United for Peace and Justice (www.unitedforpeace.org), and at www.afterdowningstreet.org/aww. I appreciate suggestions for things to include in this newsletter, and comments (pro and con) that might make it better.
---- Frank Brodhead, Concerned Families of Westchester (NY)
America's Tragic Descent into Empire
Tom Engelhardt, Alternet [July 7, 2010]
[This is an excerpt from Engelhardt's new book, The American Way of War.]
---- Because the United States does not look like a militarized country, it's hard for Americans to grasp that Washington is a war capital, that the United States is a war state, that it garrisons much of the planet, and that the norm for us is to be at war somewhere (usually, in fact, many places) at any moment. Similarly, we've become used to the idea that, when various forms of force (or threats of force) don't work, our response, as in Afghanistan, is to recalibrate and apply some alternate version of the same under a new or rebranded name -- the hot one now being "counterinsurgency," or COIN -- in a marginally different manner. When it comes to war, as well as preparations for war, more is now generally the order of the day. This wasn't always the case. The early Republic that the most hawkish conservatives love to cite was a land whose leaders looked with suspicion on the very idea of a standing army. http://www.alternet.org/world/147428/america%27s_tragic_descent_into_emp...
THE WAR IN WASHINGTON
For the Want of Three Votes: Why Did Anti-War Democrats Vote to Fund the War?
By Gregory Vickrey, Counterpunch
---- The vote in the House of Representatives last Thursday (July 1, 2010) approved $33 billion more for Barack Obama's escalation of the war in Afghanistan. Most accounts of the vote in the progressive media viewed the vote positively, focusing on the various anti-war amendments that failed, but got sizable votes. The one with broadest support (162 "Yes" votes) would have required Obama to produce an exit plan. Its sponsors included Democrats David Obey (WI) and Jim McGovern (MA). Another would have funded the exit of the troops. It was sponsored by Democrat Barbara Lee (CA) and got 100 "Yes" votes. An even stronger anti-war amendment, however, got only 25 "Yes" votes. But these progressive media accounts looking primarily at the breadth of support for the exit plan amendment have overlooked a couple of key numbers that reveal an entirely new view of the votes on the bill and its amendments. http://counterpunch.org/vickrey07092010.html
(Video) Controversial US general to head Central Command
Funding for Afghanistan surge overestimated, experts say
By Heather Somerville, Medill News Service [July 9, 2010]
---- The Congressional Research Service, the research arm of the U.S. Congress, reported that Defense Department estimates are so high that, if it were to use all the funding it asked for in 2010, including the supplemental war bill, it would have to more than double its spending for Afghanistan. From October 2009 through February 2010, the Department of Defense spent less than one-quarter of its funding for the entire 2010 fiscal year, the report said. In a letter to the House Committee on Appropriations last January, the Congressional Budget Office estimated the surge for would require an additional $13 billion in 2010, and increased funding through 2013. The CBO estimates the cost per troop in the surge is about half the Defense Department's $1 million projection. http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Special/2010/07/09/Funding-for-Afghanistan-s...
THE WAR IN KABUL
Map Resource - Districts of Afghanistan
[FB –This useful website maps the Districts within each of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. I follow the war better with a map in front of me; if you are one of those people too, this is the website for you.]
---- The proviinces of Afghanistan are divided into Wolaswalei or districts. The number of districts in Afghanistan has fluctuated over the years, with new districts created by splitting or merging parts of others. Prior to 1979, there were 325 districts. This was increased to 329 and, in 2004, a major reorganization led to the number increasing to 397. As of June 2005, the Afghan Ministry of the Interior recognised 398 districts, divided between the 34 provinces. This number is expected to change with further administrative reorganization. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Districts_of_Afghanistan
Afghan Companies Say U.S. Did Not Pay Them
By Carlotte Gall, New York Times [July 7, 2010]
---- A number of Afghan construction companies working on contracts for American and NATO military bases in Afghanistan have accused American middlemen of reneging on payments for supplies and services, and in one case of leaving the country owing Afghan companies hundreds of thousands, even millions, of dollars. The failure of American companies to pay for contracted work has left hundreds of Afghan workers unpaid in southern Afghanistan, and dozens of factories and small businesses so deep in debt that Afghan and foreign officials fear the fallout will undermine the United States-led counterinsurgency effort to win the support of the Afghan people. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/08/world/asia/08contract.html?ref=world
Afghan corruption has doubled since 2007, survey says
By Quentin Sommerville, BBC News, Kabul [July 8, 2010[
---- Corruption in Afghanistan has doubled in the two years since 2007, according to a survey by anti-corruption charity Integrity Watch. Afghans paid nearly $1bn (£658m) in bribes in 2009, with almost a third of those surveyed saying they had had to pay a bribe to obtain a public service. More than half said state corruption was fuelling the Taliban's growth. The average cost of a bribe was $180, which can be many months salary in one of the poorest countries in the world. Bribes are required for everything from access to healthcare and education, to obtaining a passport or identity card. The police and the judiciary are viewed as most corrupt by the 6,500 people surveyed. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/south_asia/10549258.stm
A link to the survey - http://www.iwaweb.org/corruptionSurvey2010/NationalCorruption2010.html
Gen. Petraeus runs into resistance from Karzai over village defense forces
By Joshua Partlow and Karen DeYoung, Washington Post [July 10, 2010]
---- As he takes charge of the war effort in Afghanistan, Gen. David H. Petraeus has met sharp resistance from President Hamid Karzai to an American plan to assist Afghan villagers in fighting the Taliban on their own. A first meeting last week between the new commander and the Afghan president turned tense after Karzai renewed his objections to the plan, according to U.S. officials. The idea of recruiting villagers into local defense programs is a key part of the U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan, and Karzai's stance poses an early challenge to Petraeus as he tries to fashion a collaborative relationship with the Afghan leader. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/09/AR201007...
TRAINING THE AFGHAN ARMED FORCES
Revealed: How strategy to train Afghan forces is in deep trouble
By Jonathan Owen and Brian Brady, Independent on Sunday [UK] [July 11, 2010]
---- The strategic plan of creating an Afghan security force to replace US and British troops fighting in Afghanistan is in serious disarray with local forces a fraction of their reported size, infiltrated by the Taliban at senior levels, and plagued by corruption and drug addiction, an Independent on Sunday investigation can reveal. And the way in which their capacity has been assessed over several years, during which time tens of billions of dollars have been spent on building up Afghan security forces, is so flawed that it has been scrapped. Less than a quarter of the army and less than one in seven police units are rated as "CM1" – meaning they are capable of operating independently. Yet the true picture is worse. An analysis by the IoS reveals that the true strength of the Afghan security forces – those that have been trained and judged to be able to operate independently – is barely 34,000. This is almost a seventh of the 236,000 claimed by Nato/Isaf. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/revealed-how-strategy-to-tr...
THE WAR ON THE GROUND
NATO Airstrike Accidentally Kills Afghan Troops
By Richard A. Oppel jr. and Abdul Waheed Wafa, New York Times [July 7, 2010]
---- In a devastating case of “friendly fire,” NATO pilots who apparently did not know that Afghan soldiers had laid a trap for Taliban militants on the ground beneath them bombed the soldiers as they lay in wait, killing at least five, Afghan officials said. The attack in Andor district of Ghazni Province, about 100 miles southwest of Kabul, suggested a horrific miscommunication between NATO officers giving orders to their warplanes and Afghan forces on the ground who were trying to capture or kill militants who hold sway in part of the district known as Rahim Khiel. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/08/world/asia/08afghan.html?ref=world
Makeshift bombs at all-time high in Afghanistan
By Joshua Partlow, Washington Post [July 8, 2010]
---- Use of the Taliban's deadliest weapon, crude homemade bombs, has reached an all-time high in Afghanistan, where in the last week of June more than 300 of the devices either exploded or were found before they could detonate. The number of improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, in the country has risen relentlessly in recent years, up from about 50 a week during summer 2007. The bombs -- made using vast supplies of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, much of it brought in from Pakistan -- account for about two-thirds of NATO's troop fatalities in the nearly nine-year war. That figure also hit a per-month peak in June, with 102 dead. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/08/AR201007...
East Afghanistan Sees Taliban as ‘Morally Superior’ to Karzai
By Spencer Ackerman, Wired [July 2010]
---- According to a just-departed U.S. commander in charge of a big chunk of the area, locals in four critical provinces believe that the Taliban have greater religious legitimacy and a stronger commitment to justice than Hamid Karzai’s government. Coalition forces who aid that government are seen as “naive at best,” and “‘co-conspirators’ at worst.” Last month, Army Colonel Randy George completed a year-long tour leading the nearly 5800 soldiers of Task Force Mountain Warrior in some of Afghanistan’s most violent and vexing areas: Nangarhar, Nuristan, Kunar, and Laghman provinces, a mountainous part of the country home to about 3.7 million people, 33 tribes and sub-tribes, and over 300 kilometers’ worth of porous border with tribal Pakistan. http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/07/in-afghanistans-east-taliban-see...
Fighting Day By Day
Five U.S. troops and one British service member killed in Afghanistan
Associated Press [July 6, 2010]
---- Roadside bombs in Afghanistan have killed five U.S. service members in different parts of the country.
NATO says two died in the west, two in the south and one in the east. And Britain's Defense Ministry says a British soldier was killed in a blast during a vehicle patrol in southern Helmand province. Their deaths brought to 14 the number of U.S. and other international troops killed so far this month. A tally by The Associated Press shows June was the deadliest month of the war for U.S. and international forces at 103 killed, including 60 Americans. http://www.kens5.com/news/world/97831794.html
Surge of attacks kills 6 US troops, 12 Afghans
Kay Johnson, AP News [Jul 10, 2010]
---- A wave of attacks killed six U.S. troops and at least a dozen civilians Saturday in Afghanistan's volatile south and east, as American reinforcements moving into Taliban-dominated areas face up to the fierce resistance they expected. … Their deaths raised to 23 the number of American troops killed so far this month. Last month, 103 international troops were killed, 60 of them Americans. Elsewhere in Paktia, Afghan and international forces also said a combined commando unit killed a Taliban operative and captured eight others in an overnight raid, though local villagers later staged a small protest, saying the men were innocent civilians. Another, larger protest in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif involved another night raid that killed two security guards near a market earlier in the week. A crowd of more than 1,000 crowd chanted "Death to America! Long live Islam!" Protesters said the security guards were unjustly killed when combined Afghan and international forces landed by helicopter at the bazaar before dawn Wednesday. http://wire.antiwar.com/2010/07/10/surge-of-attacks-kills-6-us-troops-12...
Changing the “Rules of Engagement”
Petraeus reviews directive meant to limit Afghan civilian deaths
By Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Washington Post [July 9, 2010]
---- With insurgent attacks increasing across Afghanistan, frustration about rules of engagement is growing among troops, and among some members of Congress. Addressing those concerns will be one of the most complicated initial tasks facing Gen. David H. Petraeus, the new commander of U.S. and NATO forces in the country. The controversy pits the desire of top military officers to limit civilian casualties, something they regard as an essential part of the overall counterinsurgency campaign, against a widespread feeling among rank-and-file troops that restrictions on air and mortar strikes are placing them at unnecessary risk and allowing Taliban fighters to operate with impunity. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/08/AR201007...
(Video) U.S. troops in Afghanistan say rules of engagement too restrictive.
5 minutes – interesting – Kunar province
US and Coalition Military Fatalities
As the charts below show, military fatalities are running about twice what they were last year. The charts also show that the months of heaviest fatalities are July through October, before winter weather makes fighting more difficult.
Coalition Military Fatalities By Year and Month
US Military Fatalities by Year and Month
THE SUMMER FALL OFFENSIVE OPERATION IN KANDAHAR
Amid gunfire, U.S. troops try to bring governance to Kandahar
By Jonathon Burch, Reuters [July 9, 2010]
---- As U.S. soldiers from Alpha Company stepped out of their outpost on a scorching July morning in Arghandab in southern Afghanistan's Kandahar province, an all too familiar sound rang through the air.
"Can you hear that? They're blowing their horns again," one soldier shouts down the line. It is a sound the U.S. soldiers have become accustomed to nearly every time they go out on patrol -- insurgents sounding their car and motorcycle horns, warning each other the Americans are on the move. This is Kuhak, a small village nestled inside the pomegranate orchards of Afghanistan's Arghandab valley, only miles outside Kandahar city. The reason the insurgents are putting up a tough fight in Arghandab is because the district forms a gateway to Kandahar from the north and the militants do not want to give that up.
Civilian Casualties Create New Enemies, Study Confirms
By Spencer Ackerman, Wired [July 6, 2010]
---- A new working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research finds “strong evidence for a revenge effect” when examining the relationship between civilian casualties caused by the U.S.-led military coalition in Afghanistan and radicalization after such incidents occur. The paper even estimates of how many insurgent attacks to expect after each civilian death. Those findings, however intuitive, might resolve an internal military debate about the counter-productivity of civilian casualties — and possibly fuel calls for withdrawal. “When ISAF units kill civilians,” the research team finds, referring to the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan, “this increases the number of willing combatants, leading to an increase in insurgent attacks.” According to their model, every innocent civilian killed by ISAF predicts an “additional 0.03 attacks per 1,000 population in the next 6-week period.” In a district of 83,000 people, then, the average of two civilian casualties killed in ISAF-initiated military action leads to six additional insurgent attacks in the following six weeks. http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/07/civilian-casualties-create-new-e...
Demonstrators protest civilian deaths in Mazar-i Sharif
Juan Cole, Informed Comment [July 6, 2010]
[FB – Here is another insightful article by Juan Cole. The context he provides underlines the significance of this latest NATO atrocity, now in an area far from – and indeed opposed to – the Taliban Pashtuns.]
---- Afghans allege that on Wednesday, US forces wrongly killed two Afghan security guards in a raid on a market in the northern Balkh province on the outskirts of Mazar-i Sharif. According to Afghanpaper writing in Dari Persian, in that city on Saturday, about 1,000 demonstrators marched from the shrine of Ali to the offices of UNAMI, a UN organization, chanting and walking for 3 hours in protest against the wrongful killing…. Mazar is Afghanistan’s fourth-largest city (after Herat), with a population of about 300,000, and is largely Persian-speaking Tajik, with significant other northern populations such as Turkic-speaking Uzbeks and Turkmen. Mazar residents are among the more secular-minded Afghans, as well has having the best-developed local economy. (They have long been under Russian influence via Uzbekistan to the north). They hated the Taliban so much that they rose up and massacred them in the thousands (the Taliban later repaid the favor). For the US to manage to get up a demonstration against itself in Mazar is a pretty alarming sign of losing hearts and minds. http://www.juancole.com/2010/07/6-us-troops-killed-in-afghanistan-mazar-...
(Video) 'US army leave ASAP to stop civilian deaths in Afghanistan'
PAKISTAN/INDIA AND THE AFGHANISTAN WAR
Pakistan's Suspicious Public
BY Ahmed Humayun, Foreign Policy [July 9, 2010]
---- A series of militant attacks over the last week have sparked widespread anger in Pakistan. Suicide bombers killed 62 people at government offices in the tribal agency of Mohmand today, and last Friday, over 40 worshippers died in an extremist attack on the shrine of Hazrat Data Ganj Baksh, the country's most important Sufi place of worship. In Pakistan, however, much of this outrage has been directed at Washington and Islamabad rather than at the terrorists. "America is killing Muslims in Afghanistan and in our tribal areas [using drone attacks]," argued one Pakistani interviewed in the aftermath of the attack, explaining why the United States is ultimately to blame for the bombing. "[M]ilitants are attacking Pakistan to express anger against the government for supporting America." Similar sentiments have circulated widely on Pakistan's hugely influential private TV networks. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/07/09/pakistans_suspicious_pu...
US Demands North Waziristan Offensive
By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [July 6, 2010]
---- Speaking today in Peshawar, America’s Consul General for Peshawar, Candace Putnam, called for the Pakistani government to launch a military offensive against North Waziristan, saying it was “vitally urgent” that it be done soon. The US has been pressing for a new offensive against North Waziristan for months, ostensibly to target the TTP’s leadership. Yet it is well documented that the TTP’s top leaders left North Waziristan in late May, making the pressing need for the attack questionable, at best. At America’s behest, Pakistan has launched offensives against Swat Valley, Bajaur, South Waziristan, Orakzai, and Khyber. Those regions have all been torn virtually apart by the offensives, which netted large body counts, but no leaders of note. Pakistan has recently suggested it will launch another new offensive against South Waziristan, but has been mum on any impending attack on North Waziristan. http://news.antiwar.com/2010/07/06/us-demands-north-waziristan-offensive/
See also: Anwar Shakir and James Rupert, “Pakistan Pays Price for Afghan War Cargo Amid Taliban Attacks,” Bloomberg News [July 7, 2010] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-07-06/pakistan-pays-price-for-hauling... and Jason Ditz, “CIA, Pakistan’s ISI Engage in Fierce but Quiet Battle” Antiwar.com [July 6, 2010] http://news.antiwar.com/2010/07/06/cia-pakistans-isi-engage-in-fierce-bu...
More about drones
War zone drone crashes add up
By David Zucchino, Los Angeles Times [July 6, 2010]
---- The U.S. military often portrays its drone aircraft as high-tech marvels that can be operated seamlessly from thousands of miles away. But Pentagon accident reports reveal that the pilotless aircraft suffer from frequent system failures, computer glitches and human error. Design and system problems were never fully addressed in the haste to push the fragile plane into combat over Afghanistan shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks more than eight years ago. Air Force investigators continue to cite pilot mistakes, coordination snafus, software failures, outdated technology and inadequate flight manuals. Thirty-eight Predator and Reaper drones have crashed during combat missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, and nine more during training on bases in the U.S. — with each crash costing between $3.7 million and $5 million. Altogether, the Air Force says there have been 79 drone accidents costing at least $1 million each. Accident rates are dropping, but the raw numbers of mishaps are increasing as use of the aircraft skyrockets, according to Air Force safety experts.http://freedomsyndicate.com/fair0000/latimes00266.html
The War Drones On
By Robert C. Koehler, CommonDreams July 7, 2010]
---- The use of pilotless aircraft in Pakistan and Afghanistan to assassinate Taliban or al-Qaida leaders and other Islamic, America-hating insurgents - with missiles, no less - seems to have hit a snag of legal controversy lately because of the news that one of the people on the list of targets, Anwar al-Awlaki, was born in New Mexico. He's an American citizen. … Not cited, for some reason, was a Brookings Institution study , which found that for every militant killed by drones, 10 civilians are taken out. This is a heart-stopping ratio of cruelty that should instantly decommission all future robot assassination missions.The fact that it won't is due in no small part to the tepid, morally inert reportage of the mainstream media, as typified by that sentence, which entombs the humanity of all who read it: "Complaints about civilian casualties have also stirred concern among human rights advocates."
BRITISH TROOPS LEAVE SANGIN – AN ASSESSMENT
[FB – The US troop surge has led to a shift in location for the British troops in southern Afghanistan, who now exit from Sangin, in Helmand Province, after years of fighting and 100 fatalities. Here some British commentators try to sum up their country’s role in the war.]
As Sangin shows, British troops were never geared up to make a lasting difference
Patrick Cockburn, The Independent
---- British troops are well out of Sangin, where they fought against a classic guerrilla campaign with very little sign of lasting success. The area, where a tenth of the British troops in Afghanistan suffered one third of total casualties, is symbolic of Britain's involvement in Afghanistan, as a bit player whose contribution was always going to have little effect on the outcome of the whole campaign. The only compelling reason for Britain to be fighting in Afghanistan is to retain its status as America's principle ally. Any suggestion that British troops are keeping the streets of Britain safe has always been demonstrably untrue. It is a long time since al- Qa'ida was based in Afghanistan and suicide bombers in the US and Britain appear to be motivated primarily by anger provoked by American and British military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/patrick-cockburn-as-sa...
Afghanistan: Now it's America's war
By Kim Sengupta, The Independent
---- These are hard and painful times for British forces in the relentless conflict in Afghanistan. The death toll now stands at 312, with the former head of the Army, General Sir Richard Dannatt, saying it is likely to go beyond 400 before it is over. Both sides are anticipating a summer of ferocious fighting as the endgame approaches. Against this background the withdrawal from Sangin – where 99 British soldiers were killed, almost a third of the total – has particular resonance as US forces take over. To a greater extent than ever before, this is America's war. There is little doubt that the new British Government would like to bring the troops back from a war it has inherited, and one which is proving increasingly costly in both human and financial terms. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/afghanistan-now-its-ameri...
See also: Ken Sengupta, “British troops to withdraw from Sangin 'with heads held high,'”
The Independent http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/exclusive-british-troops-to... Simon Jenkins, “Afghanistan is a catastrophe,” The Guardian [UK] http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jul/08/afghanistan-catastro... and Stephen Grey, “Helmand: anatomy of a disaster,” Foreign Policy [June 15, 2010] http://afpak.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/06/15/helmand_anatomy_of_a_dis...
AUSTRALIAN TROOPS IN THE WAR
Australian Soldiers' despair confronts Defence
Sean Parnell and Rory Callinan, The Australian [July 10, 2010]
---- Australian troops have revealed the intense pressure of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. The troops have criticised the Defence organisation and their allied counterparts as they detail the hidden trauma of life on the front line. In descriptions of overworked pilots addicted to Stilnox and other prescription drugs, an underground trade in illicit substances and sex, complaints about a lack of support, poor leadership and the constant fear of death, troops have provided a raw and disturbing account of Australia's involvement in the Middle East. The Weekend Australian has obtained an extraordinary selection of transcripts from 120 serving and former troops from the two Iraq offensives, dating back to the early 1990s, and the ongoing Afghanistan war in which they reveal the threats faced on deployment - not only from the enemy, but also from within. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/soldiers-despair-confronts-d...
IRAN AND THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAN
Iran in Afghanistan and Pakistan: An Interview with Hillary Mann Leverett
By Hillary Mann Leverett, Race for Iran [July 6, 2010]
[FB - Hillary Mann Leverett is a former National Security Council official and co-author of The Race for Iran. Here she addresses the following questions about the role of Iran in the war.]
1. In late May, then-top commander General Stanley McChrystal said there is "clear evidence of Iranian activity" in training and providing weaponry to the Taliban in Afghanistan. What are Iran's core interests in Afghanistan, and how have they evolved in the last nine years? How do those complement or work against what the U.S. and NATO are trying to achieve there?
2. What is Iran's likely reaction to the expected U.S. drawdown in Afghanistan, scheduled to begin in July 2011? How might Iran react if the Taliban's influence across Afghanistan grew, particularly in Herat and other border provinces?
3. It's been reported that Pakistan is seeking to increase its leverage in Afghan reconciliation talks. What might Iran's reaction be to an increase in Pakistani influence in Afghanistan?
4. How would the ‘grand bargain' between the U.S. and Iran affect stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan?