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News Analysis

Four Fronts Open in Afghanistan

Sun, December 2, 2012

Ajmal Sohail

Ajmal Sohail is the leader of the Afghan Liberal Party and is frequently on local and international television programs as an analyst, including Al-Jazeera English, Shamshad TV, Kabul News TV, Voice of America and Al-Yaum Arabic. 

The U.S.-led war in Afghanistan in its current form is coming to an end, with even covert activities seeming to decrease. The country is headed for trouble as Afghans have to fight four types of wars: The one led by the U.S., the fight against extremists, sectarian conflicts and tribal conflicts. President Karzai, Iran and Pakistan stand in the way of saving the country.

Every minute of every Afghan’s life is affected by these four types of wars and the huge corruption. The Afghans are strong but have become numb to the outside world’s law and standards for living, which is completely opposite of theirs.

The U.S.-led war is almost over. My sources say that U.S. intelligence operations have been reduced all over the country and the military is minimizing its activities, instead focusing on drones and Global Hawks. The extremists are unable to expand their territory but still control some pockets with jihadists, narco-terrorists and local power brokers. Over time, they will diminish and the Afghan people will have to deal with the extremists as coalition forces leave. Hopefully, over the next few years, rule of law will take hold.

The war that the U.S. originally fought in Afghanistan is gone. The Taliban does not exist as an organization anymore. Mullah Omar has disappeared, leading to many reports of his death. There is no second-in-command.  There are Taliban spokesman who recite the propaganda of the Pakistani ISI intelligence service and cause trained killers to continue the fight without having real leadership. Now, there are multiple family-run, organized crime elements running the insurgency like the Haqqani Network, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and others that rival any other mafia in the world.

The new wars are sectarian and tribal, particularly between Sunnis and Shiites. There is a growing sense that Iran is feeding Shiite unrest and Pakistan is feeding Sunni unrest. Iran is spending big amounts of money to spread messages of hate and to put up banners and posters against the Afghan government, NATO and Sunnis. The Pakistani ISI pretends to fight terrorism to get money, but they curtail the peace process by keeping the forest burning. The support for the Taliban and insurgents is about picking a sectarian side. The Taliban is used to hiding the actions of Iran and Pakistan, which are really about sectarian war.

There are too many corrupt politicians -- from the local to the national level -- to count. There is growing corruption in the ranks of the police, security and military. Many people won’t turn the corrupt in for fear of losing their jobs or their lives and many are involved in the crime and corruption for survival.

To help the situation, the Afghan government must approve agreements with the U.S. to continue the partnership and establish joint teams to fight narco-terrorism, the black market, black money and the spread of illegal weapons. It must make a joint border guard team to halt all cross-border terrorism and infiltration of illegal narcotics and weapons. There must be a national plan to make sure all international aid is used to help all Afghans, not just one sect, with complete oversight and with conditions.

These things will not happen with President Hamid Karzai, because he and his team are ensconced with the drug mafia, black money, illegal weapons and cross-border terrorism. These have become milking cows for him at the presidential palace. If the Afghan President does not do the above, then the U.S. will leave completely, and Afghanistan will become an arena for its neighbors.

The Afghan people need to establish counter-balances at different levels to challenge Karzai and get rid of him. It must involve local people, political parties, groups that can exert pressure like provincial councils and the international community so Karzai realizes he must give up as Mubarak did in Egypt or be forcibly overthrown.

Now is the time for us Afghans to command the future. The Taliban and the insurgency are not what they once were, yet the war is far from over.

ClarionProject.org previously interviewed Ajmal Sohail as part of its series "Alternative Voices in the Muslim World." Click here to read the interview.


Ajmal Sohail is the leader of the Afghan Liberal Party, founded in 2004. The party’s Kabul headquarters suffered from act of arson on April 9, 2007, attacked either by Islamist militants or individuals upset at the party’s investigations into corruption.