Although the various tribes of the vast Afghan-Pakistani region do not have the massive foreign (American) support they had in fighting the Soviet Red Army, they can still inflict enough losses to their former allies converted into invaders.
When a few American forces, together with the Northern Alliance rolled back the Taliban regime, they were received with great joy by the majority of the population. Instead of leaving after a reasonable time, Americans became occupiers and now invaders.
The first major mistake Americans made was to offer a huge reward for Osama Bin Ladin’s head. No one, but no one in the tribal areas would do such a dishonorable deed as betraying a fugitive seeking asylum. By openly trying to tempt a traitor with Judas money, the Americans lost moral ground. The highly moral tribes people now hold the infidel Americans in contempt (never mind other reasons like Abu Grahib, Guantanamo Bay, smashing doors at midnight, the killing of civilians).
Now, Osama and his staff have become heroes. Another rising hero is Afghan president Hamid Karzai who refuses to be subservient to the people who placed him in power.
While the American military has been tooing and froming creating enemies throughout Afghanistan and the tribal areas, Osama and his staff have matured into an effective political leadership and competent strategists.
Recently it has become known that a plot to assassinate Pakistan’s Chief of Staff, General Kiani was vetoed by Bin Ladin. Oddly enough, Bin Ladin’s reason to veto the operation coincides with American interests to avoid destabilizing Pakistan. The difference is that Bin Ladin does if with finesse, whereas Americans do it by putting pressure on Pakistan and creating resentment.
The 17,000 additional troops being sent in are not sufficient to make a difference in any war. Once this becomes painfully evident, we can expect another 10,000 troops to be sent. We’ve seen this escalation in Vietnam.
The war against the Taliban/Al Qaeda was initially limited to the Tora Bora area. In the past eight years it has expanded into most of southern Afghanistan, the NWFP, Gilgit and parts of Pakistan itself. It is threatening to expand into Waziristan within the next few months.
As resentment, if not hate, toward Americans grows in the region, it is difficult to understand what the American leadership is trying to achieve politically. Like a bad plot of a B movie, enter Zalmay Khalilzad, Afghan born ex American ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq. This gentleman is well connected to the Neo Cons but claims to act independently. His plan is to take over the functions of a prime minister in Kabul, thus becoming Washinton’s man in Afghanistan. This is something similar to having placed Saakashvili in Georgia.
This move reveals who is behind this war. Even though such notorious Neo Cons like Rumsfeld and Chenney are no longer in government, someone is still pulling the presidential strings.
Alexey Braguiner has seen it all before in Vietnam and the Secret War in Laos. He is familiar with Pakistan, has done some trekking in the Tribal Areas, been to India and Iran. He is the author of Kingmaker.