With the looming 2014 deadline for NATO forces withdrawal from Afghanistan many officials are anxious about the state of affairs in the nation. Two intertwined issues endanger the unstable fledgling state: drug crops and a president Taliban. Hamid Karzai, president of Afghanistan and the Obama administration are working jointly to solve these problems and attempt to bring peace to the war-torn nation.
The economic lynch pin of the Afghanistan economy is the humble poppy. Poppy’s are the plant which produces opium, an addictive drug which had killed millions. Approximately forty percent [article] of the world’s opium production is grown in the mountains of Afghanistan. In 2008 a British spearheaded campaign drove the Taliban and poppy sharecroppers out of prime growing land. Ongoing campaigns to educate farmers, plant wheat and cotton, and enforcing security have reduced the poppy output signficantly. However, these reforms are suffering from diminishing returns. The Taliban and their poppy-sharecroppers have established new havens in semi-arable deserts and are reestablishing a profitable trade. Corrupt officials are additionally undermining the efficiency the reform efforts by protecting drug growers for kick backs. The food zone’s in Afghanistan are currently are largely secured; however, the drug problem is certainly not eradicated.
The Taliban are still a major player in Afghanistan and pose a threat to the unstable sovereign government. Every year since the abrupt destruction of their government after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 the Taliban have been rebuilding more ruggedized networks and orchestrating the assassinations of more Allied troops. Explosive suicide bombers, rouge gunman, and improvised explosive devices are the chief killers of the near 2800 allied casualties [article]. Countermeasures against this terrorism have been slow to mitigate the killings. Peak levels of Allied casualties were suffered over the summer of 2010 and current levels of casualties are still nearly double what they were five years previously [article]. Many locals believe once the international forces leave then the killings and disruption will make a resurgence.
There are many different programs attempting to defeat this persistent enemy. The Afghan military is focusing on building up its own air force to replace the American warplanes after 2014 [article]. These ambitious goals of this program are to have approximately 165 active aircraft online by 2016. Just as importantly, the government is training in total 8,000 personal to keep these aircraft in fighting condition. These planes will be able to supply isolated outposts, decimate Taliban patrols, and assure the Afghan people who their government can enforce the national security. In addition, the Obama Administration is taking innovative steps to freeze this possibility and stabilize the region. The American and Afghani governments have jointly begun to open dialogue with the Taliban [article]. While initial communications are still classified multiple officials have expressed optimistic first impressions. Peace is a viable possibility.
I personally believe this silver-or-lead policy will stabilize Afghanistan. Government supporters will be able to farm wheat and common in peace. The firepower of the Afghan army and the dialogue will corner the Taliban into consenting to peace. The country will doubtlessly be plagued by isolated extremists for at least the rest of the decade; however, peace will become de facto in Afghanistan.