Friday, May 11, 2007

How Much Longer In Afghanistan?

From the IHT:
The Afghan government has taken over the management of hospitals run by an Italian aid group that pulled its international workers to protest the detention of a staff member by authorities, an official said Thursday.

It appears that even after the Italian NGO "Emergency" left their posts in protest to the death sentencing of the Afghan translator and aid for the freeing of the Italian journalist Mastrogiacomo, their posts were quickly filled by the Afghan government. This does bode as a good sign for Afghanistan as they are not negotiating with influential forces and enforcing their laws and have the resources to back it up. There are other recent signs of success for Afghanistan that seem promising.

With recent Afghan unity and successes against the Taliban, with a small percentage of Italian troops in Afghanistan (1300 out of 32000 NATO troops), and when Italian aid seems unnecessary, there may be attempts for a withdrawal of troops. Especially with Prime Minister Prodi under heat from his party and others, the time may be nearing.

The French have been pressured to withdraw from the Taliban as well recently. French President Sarkozy has also talked of withdrawal which resulted in the release of a French hostage. However, concessions to hostage threats are an unlikely mechanism for withdrawal as nations fall under public scrutiny for showing "weakness" and negotiating with the enemy. Italy has already gone through their own debacle in their concession to hostage takers. We will see if the French actually follow through soon.

Nevertheless, if Italy and France both pull out, that would symbolically show a pull out of spirit for the Afghan movement. The French currently have 1100 troops stationed in Afghanistan and if both nations pull out it would be a 8% withdrawal of troops. Although a small percentage in theory, there may be more witnessing european nations that will have corroding support as a result. The US is already spread thinly with war in Iraq. Hence, NATO members, and especially the US, will probably try its best to deter Italy and France from leaving. Although it is highly politically popular now to be anti-US policy, they will probably not pull out until there is a longer streak of stability in Afghanistan.

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