Afghanistan needs new mindset

2009-12-02 17:07

Baghdad - A marked increase in troops and a new strategy helped the US turn the tide of the Iraq war but success also hinged on dividing their enemies, analysts warned Wednesday, ahead of a similar Afghan "surge".

An extra five army brigades - 30 000 troops - were deployed to Iraq from February 2007 to stem deteriorating security and they played a key role in reversing the bloody insurgency that was at the time engulfing the country.

With US President Barack Obama now ordering an additional 30 000 soldiers to stabilise similarly conflict-wracked Afghanistan, however, International Crisis Group senior analyst Peter Harling argues that military power alone is not enough.

The increase in troop levels in Iraq "would not have had the same impact had the US clung to the same, failed approach of pursuing armed groups regardless of the cost to their human environment," he told AFP.

The abandonment of a simplistic 'search and destroy' mindset to a twin-track policy that also aimed to protect the Iraqi population ensured the surge's success in 2007, according to Harling.

Mindset

"A mere change of mindset would have been ineffective: over-stretched US forces needed those extra resources to become more flexible... and most importantly to hold the ground after clearing it of insurgent activity," he said.

The Iraqi government's own figures showed more than 2 000 people died as a result of violence in January 2007, when then president George W Bush announced the surge.

Attacks now have dropped dramatically; to the point where violent deaths were last month around five percent of the January 2007 toll.

The Pentagon hopes to see similar success in Afghanistan, where the Taliban is mounting a bloody insurgency across the nation, just as Sunni fighters linked to al-Qaeda were doing across Iraq in 2007.

"We can say quite definitively that the surge operation was a success - the best indication is a decrease in violence in Iraq," said Ephraim Kam, deputy director of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University.

"The decrease is substantial and ongoing and, so far, success is clear."

US troops are now gradually pulling out of Iraq, with the 115 000 soldiers stationed there set to drop to 50 000 by the end of August 2010 ahead of a complete withdrawal, due by the end of 2011.

Boots on the ground

As well as 30 000 new troops, President Obama has also increased pressure on NATO allies for more boots on the ground.

Crucial to the strategy's success will be winning over the loyalties of local Afghans in much the same way US General David Petraeus, then the top US commander in Iraq, did with Sunnis in 2006 and 2007.

"Petraeus began to attract the Sunni Arab insurgency - he gave them hope that they would not be targeted by the security forces," said Baghdad-based analyst and commentator Ibrahim al-Sumaidie.

"He also used other things, like buying their loyalty with money."

Beginning in 2006, the US began paying Sunni insurgents to turn their backs on al-Qaeda, with those who switched sides becoming known as the Sahwa, or Awakening councils.

The Baghdad government has since taken control of paying them and has pledged to incorporate a fifth of the Sahwa into the security forces and find civil service jobs for the rest.

Whether or not the strategy can be replicated in Afghanistan, with its different terrain and ethnic groupings, remains to be seen, but Sumaidie said Obama's surge offers the US its best chance of success there.

"This policy saved the reputation of the United States and Iraq together," he said.

"By increasing the number of troops and replicating the policy of securing the loyalties of the local population, the US is capable of success in Afghanistan."

- SAPA
Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  david petraeus  |  barack obama  |  afghanistan
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

 

Inside News24

 
/Movies
Traffic & Train Alerts
Traffic
Cape Town 06:03 AM
Road name: MetroRail

Train services between Nyanga/Chris Hani (Khayelitsha) and Nyanga/Kapteinsklip remain SUSPENDED - all stations on these sections are CLOSED

Kuils River 17:58 PM
Road name: Polkadraai Road Eastbound

ROADWORKS between the R102 Van Riebeeck Road and the R310 Baden Powell Drive exit - expect delays

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Trainee Investment Analyst

Cape Town
DAV Professional Placement Group

Financial Accountant

Somerset West
Helderberg Personnel cc
R20 000 - R25 000 Per Month

Maintenance Manager

Cape Town CBD
Mpumalanga Personnel & Training Consultants

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Deal of the Week!

Get bestselling John Green novels now just R99 each! Hurry and get yours while stocks last. Shop here.

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Jan 21 - Feb 18
Jan 21 - Feb 18

You may be inspired to do things that expand your mind in a big way today. You have a need to explore and a need to please....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.