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BWT: War Not Going Quite As Planned
By Jim Lobe
1/1/1999 2:17 am Fri
[Afghanistan adalah satu negara yang amat unik sebab itulah banyak usaha
menakluknya gagal. Banyak negara yang ingin mengusiknya berakhir dengan diri
mereka sendiri terusik dan terjangkit..... Lihat sahajalah keadaan haru-biru
di Pakistan dan fobia di Amerika sekarang.
War Not Going Quite As Planned
By Jim Lobe
Article Dated 10/22/2001
While U.S. and British leaders are trying to project an air of
determination and confidence, concern about the lack of progress
on a range of fronts is growing both here and in Europe, where a
rising chorus of relief agencies is calling for a quick end to the
It did not help that U.S. warplanes have missed or mistaken
targets, in one case devastating a village located near a former
training camp; in another, destroying a Red Cross supply depot
whose roof was marked with a large red cross.
Militarily, the Taliban movement is proving to be harder to crack
than expected; diplomatically, efforts to forge a post-Taliban
coalition also have been frustrated by the contradictory demands
of different factions and external powers.
''While there's still hope the Taliban will fall apart over the next
few days, they seem to be hanging on better than we expected,''
said one official here. ''And the longer they hang on, the more
difficult it is to get the job done.''
Additionally, already-overworked U.S. diplomats are scrambling
to deal with sharply rising tensions between nuclear-armed
Pakistan and India - where New Delhi this week moved
warplanes closer to their border - and between the Palestinian
Authority and Israel - where a far-right government minister was
Armed conflict in South Asia or a dramatic escalation of Israeli-
Palestinian violence will almost certainly inflame anti-Western
sentiment throughout the Islamic world at the precise moment
when the Bush administration is trying to convince Muslims that
his war is being waged against terrorism, not Islam.
''We really have more crises than we can deal with at the
moment,'' said a Congressional aide. ''People in the State
Department feel like a fire brigade.''
The military front has been particularly disappointing. Washington
had clearly hoped that the first week of its bombing campaign
would prove so devastating to the Taliban's infrastructure and
morale that the regime would suffer large-scale defections,
leading to its effective collapse by the end of the month.
Earlier this week, top Pentagon officials, encouraged by the
desertion of about 3,000 Taliban troops in the north, insisted that
the bombing had indeed ''eviscerated'' the Taliban's combat
But in a clear setback Wednesday, Taliban forces successfully
repulsed advancing Northern Alliance rebels around
Mazar-i-Sharif. The strategic northern city is considered critical
to Washington's game plan. Mazar-i-Sharif's capture essentially would evict the Taliban from
all but Kabul in the northern part of the country and open the way
westward to Herat. Pentagon planners also wanted to use its
airport - so far spared U.S. bombing - as a staging base for
ground forces, many of which are currently deployed just across
the border in Uzbekistan.
Mazar-i-Sharif's capture essentially would evict the Taliban from all but Kabul in the northern part of the country and open the way westward to Herat. Pentagon planners also wanted to use its airport - so far spared U.S. bombing - as a staging base for ground forces, many of which are currently deployed just across the border in Uzbekistan.
Even rebel commanders admit that it may take weeks before they
can gather sufficient strength to the take the city.
The delay compounds an already difficult political situation.
Washington had hoped, by now, to have the makings of a post-
Taliban governing coalition in place.
Such a coalition would be convened under a loya jirga, or
traditional tribal council, convened under the authority of the
exiled king, Zahir Shah. It would consist primarily of the ethnic
factions that make up the Northern Alliance and anti-Taliban
Pashtuns, many of whose leaders live in western Pakistan.
Pashtuns account for some 40 percent of Afghanistan's
population and constitute the Taliban's ethnic base.
Because ethnic enmities run so deep, U.S. policymakers wanted
to ensure that the Northern Alliance - consisting of Tajik, Uzbek,
and Hazara forces - did not storm the capital before a broader
coalition was in place. That is why, to the growing frustration of
Alliance commanders, U.S. warplanes have not yet unleashed
their power against Taliban defenses just 60 kilometres north of
The same commanders are even more frustrated in the wake of
Secretary of State Colin Powell's visit this week with Pakistani
President Pervez Musharaff, who insisted that ''moderate'' Taliban
leaders be given a prominent role in any post-Taliban
government as a guarantor of Pashtun and Pakistani interests.
Powell's apparent agreement to this demand adds new
complications to the quest for a workable coalition that could
replace the Taliban.
Northern Alliance leaders, fearful of being marginalised, have
begun hinting they may be less inclined to cooperate with U.S.
strategy. Anti-Taliban Pashtuns wooed by Washington before this
week also have expressed dismay.
The endorsement of a coalition that includes Taliban elements
risks undermining the credibility of Washington's anti-terrorist
aims, as noted by Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh. He
called the phrase ''moderate Taliban'' an oxymoron.
In addition to increasing political tensions among the parties,
adding a new element to the coalition also will take time,
particularly given the slow progress so far in persuading Taliban
military forces to defect.
There are still other complications. Washington has operated
under the assumption that, once a new government is installed in
Kabul, the United Nations will take responsibility both for
peacekeeping and ''nation building.''
But the U.N. Special Envoy for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, has
hinted that he has other ideas. Although he expressed optimism
that a coalition government could be put together, Brahimi, who
spent the late 1990s trying to get all parties to sit down together,
cautioned against quick fixes or a U.N. peacekeeping role.
''Afghanistan is a very difficult country; it is a very proud people
and they don't like to be ordered around by foreigners,'' he said.
''They don't like to see foreigners, especially in military uniform.''
Such observations cannot be reassuring to the Bush
administration as it prepares the ground phase of its operations.