Kabul Tomorrow Unknown
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The Killid Group
Save Nooristan from becoming a WaziristanWritten by Rohullah Amin
Saturday, 16 April 2011 12:03
Taliban, al Qaeda and other extremist groups are working hard to regroup in the rugged eastern Afghan districts as local officials and experts warn about the creation of another Waziristan.
Immediately after joint counterinsurgency operations by Afghan and foreign forces ended in the eastern Kunar Province last week, Jamaludin Badar, governor of the neighbouring Nooristan Province, demanded similar operations in Kamdish, Bargmatal and Wantwaygal districts.
Although some U.S.-NATO commanders such as Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the former commander of all foreign forces in Afghanistan, have downplayed the strategic importance of the aforementioned districts, a sustained control of the areas by the armed opposition groups would have dire consequences. Both provinces, Kunar and Nooristan, share rugged and porous borders with several northern Afghan provinces and with the lawless Chitral area in Pakistan.
The Bargmatal District, for instance, lays on the infamous Durand Line and has routes to eight Afghan provinces and has eight routes to Chitral. Anyone controlling the district would be able to access the entire northeast of Afghanistan, parts of Pakistan, to the Peoples Republic of China and even, further, to the Central Asian republics.
Mohammad Sarwar, a retired military officer, says that the insecure districts in Nooristan have pivotal strategic importance. "Geographically these areas are resistant to the use of air force - predator attacks - and are also difficult to be controlled by ground forces, so they are very attractive to the armed opposition."
As the warm seasons set in there are growing speculations that the conflict will further intensify and spread to most parts of the country. This has been confirmed by the top general which commands the anti-Taliban war: David Petraeus. Like some other Afghans, the governor of Nooristan is rightly concerned that Taliban insurgents and their al Qaeda affiliates would seek to control the districts in Nooristan because they would be vital for their logistics, guerrilla fighting, defence and regrouping. The insurgents would also like to establish their training camps in these isolated areas - something the U.S. and its NATO allies would not like to see.
"With the existing force level we are unable to resist and repel the enemy, and if large-scale military operations are not executed here immediately the enemy would fully establish itself and would start destabilizing other regions," warns Badar, the governor of Nooristan.
As Mohammad Sarwar says, the risks of Nooristan becoming another Waziristan are real and strong. And while U.S.-NATO forces are seeking to withdraw from parts of Afghanistan and transfer their responsibilities to the fledging Afghan security forces, the Taliban and their allies certainly want to maximise their influence and control spheres. "They want a second Waziristan," warns Sarwar.