PMESII Analysis Afghanistan June 2010: Political Analysis

General Petraeus faces a number of challenges as he replaces General McChrystal.
General Petraeus faces a number of challenges as he replaces General McChrystal.

Political Analysis

At present, there are three main issues that affect the political environment of Afghanistan: the recent, abrupt change of command from General McChrystal to General Petraeus, the projected July 2011 troop withdrawal date, President Karzai’s reported communications with Haqqani Network leaders and the adverse impact of cutting funding due to corruption concerns.

As General Petraeus settles into his role replacing General McChrystal, there are a number of issues that face him in the political arena. However, it seems that he’s been more politically savvy in the past. A significant point of contention is the restrictive rules of engagement (ROE) put in place by General McChrystal under his Courageous Restraint movement which is geared towards protecting the civilians in theater. Petraeus has spoken strongly on the issue of ROE in recent days. He has hinted at change and openly stated that he had no plans to make any changes while at other times saying that there may be some. He has suggested he would refine — or at least review — the implementation of rules under which NATO soldiers fight, including curbs on the use of airpower and heavy weapons if civilians are at risk, "to determine where refinements might be needed."[1] General Petraeus told the Senate armed services committee that he would look to strike a balance between force protection and limiting civilian casualties.[2] as it stands now, it seems that Petraeus has promised to consider but not to commit. With only a year to the july 2011 scheduled troop withdrawal, he’ll need to make a decision soon.

One of the biggest concerns about the July 2011 troop drawdown is that America will simply pull out and leave Afghanistan regardless of the condition or situatoin. When initially announcing the 2011 target, Obama was careful to say that any pullout decisions would be based on improved security.[3]

It may be in anticipation of being left out in the cold— as the US has done previously to Afghanistan during the Cold War in Operation Cyclone—that President Karzai is collaborating with the enemy. It is reported that Karzai has been attempting to establish a relationship with the Taliban and encourages them to lay down their arms and join the government. There is further concern that reports of Karzai had met with leaders of the Al Qaeda-affiliated, Haqqani network.[4] Al Jazeera reported that Karzai held a face-to-face talk with Sirajuddin Haqqani, leader of the Haqqani Network in Pakistan. While Karzai denied any meeting ever took place, calling such accusations baseless[5], CIA believes that Haqqani is behind some of the most sophisticated attacks seen recently. It is speculated that Pakistan's army chief and the head of the country's intelligence services were also present at the meeting.[6]. Pakistan’s government has historically maintained ties with the Taliban through the ISI (Pakistani Intelligence) which utilized them as a proxy army in the past.

Karzai may be on the right track as it is his country and he’ll be challenged with maintaining stability long after Coalition forces leave. US commanders and the British army chief of staff, Gen David Richards, suggested that it might be useful to talk to the Taliban. However, the Taliban in Afghanistan have said that they will not enter into negotiations with NATO forces.

The Taliban believe that the Americans are in disarray after McChrystal resigned. The Taliban view suggestions that they should enter negotiations with NATO as a sign of NATO's own weakness.

As NATO is anticipated to pull out, $4 billion in US Government Aid is being cut due to fears of corruption.[7] While the cut is not expected to affect military or humanitarian efforts, it’s anticipated that such a significant financial setback could hamper the solid establishment of the Afghan Government infrastructure. US Congresswoman Nita Lowey, chair of the subcommittee responsible for aid appropriations, has demanded that an audit is carried out of billions of dollars of past funds.

ANALYSIS

With the removal of General McChrystal from the equation, the perception is that the US is inconsistent and not dependable. It seems that president Karzai is trying to facilitate a smooth transition when the US is projected to leave in July 2011. His primary concerns will be with the Taliban as Afghanistan’s military and police forces are still relatively inexperienced and may not be capable to repelling or neutralizing the asymmetric threat that will be left behind without US forces to act as a crutch for them to lean on. While the US has a policy of not negotiating with Terrorists, and the Taliban have ruled out any chance of negotiations with NATO, Afghanistan doesn’t necessarily share these restrictions allowing Karzai to be in a place that he has a certain sort of leeway that none of the other players have available to them.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

PMESII Analysis Political Aspects

PMESII Analysis Military Aspects

PMESII Analysis Economic Aspects

PMESII Analysis Social Aspects

PMESII Analysis Information & Infrastructure Aspects

Notes

[1] Riechmann, Deb. Petraeus takes over Afghan fight, vows to win it. July 04, 2010. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100704/ap_on_re_as/as_afghanistan (accessed July 04, 2010).

[2] Mann, Simon. Battle rules may change: Petraeus. July 01, 2010. http://www.theage.com.au/world/battle-rules-may-change-petraeus-20100630-zmq4.html (accessed July 04, 2010).

[3] (Riechmann 2010)

[4] (Riechmann 2010)

[5] (Riechmann 2010)

[6] MSNBC.com. Report: Karzai holds secret talks with top militant . June 27, 2010. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37954054/ns/world_news-south_and_central_asia (accessed June 30, 2010).

[7] BBC. US to cut $4bn in Afghan aid over corruption fears. July 01, 2010. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/south_asia/10471610.stm (accessed July 03, 2010).

Jalaluddin Haqqani: His son Sirajuddin is now senior leader of the terrorist network he founded. Reports from Pakistan say his other son Muhammad has been killed by a US missile attack. Photograph: Mohammed Riaz/AP
Jalaluddin Haqqani: His son Sirajuddin is now senior leader of the terrorist network he founded. Reports from Pakistan say his other son Muhammad has been killed by a US missile attack. Photograph: Mohammed Riaz/AP

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