Gordon Campbell: Fight For Your Right To PRT


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Image By Lyndon Hood
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Helen Clark successfully kept New Zealand out of Iraq, but her policy in Afghanistan – the other front in the Bush war on terrorism – is on track to become more hazardous until the Afghan elections, at least. Cleverly, New Zealand managed to tuck its PRT aid reconstruction team safely away within the relatively tranquil, Hazara populated Bamiyan province in the Central Highlands, far from the opium trade and the intense fighting taking place in the Pashtun-dominated regions to the south and east.

That happy state may be about to change. Recently, the first roadside bomb attack in Bamiyan in Bamiyan led to an increase in our troop deployment in Afghanistan, to better protect our PRT presence. The situation in hitherto safe regions such as Bamiyan seems likely to deteriorate, as this report from the McClatchy news service indicates.

“Operationally, the Taliban appear to be putting more resources into attacking in provinces where allied forces are weaker and which are less accustomed to clashes,” according to an April 6 report written by John McCreary, a former senior intelligence analyst for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

All part of a Taliban strategy to tie US and NATO forces down in the south and east, while fomenting unrest elsewhere. The McClatchy report also quotes David Lamm, a former chief of staff with multinational forces in Afghanistan, who believes the Taliban forces will be seeking to avoid clashes with superior [ US and NATO] forces, while hitting soft targets such as local police, UN officials and aid agencies – thus rendering enough regions ungovernable so that the next elections will have to be cancelled.

To date, Bamiyan’s relative tranquility has earned it the neglect of the Kabul government, as this al Jazeera report from last November indicates

That neglect can only play into the hands of the Taliban insurgency in coming months, and make our foreign policy adventure in Afghanistan a lot less safe, for soldiers and Helen Clark alike.
ENDS

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