Little progress has been made against Taliban fighters and the Afghan government remains weak and rife with corruption, according to the Pentagon’s semiannual report to Congress on the war in Afghanistan.
The report, titled “Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan,” was released this week and outlines the failures and successes of the United States’ mission in Afghanistan.
Although more aggressive security operations are expected to increase pressure on insurgents in Afghanistan, they have proven to be a resilient enemy.
“The insurgents will retain operational momentum in some areas as long as they have access to externally supported safe havens and support networks,” according to the report.
The ability of Taliban fighters to conduct attacks against NATO and Afghan forces has “been qualitatively and geographically expanding” as is shown by the increased frequency of attacks in regions throughout Afghanistan.
“The insurgency continues to adapt and retain a robust means of sustaining its operations, through internal and external funding sources and the exploitation of the Afghan government’s inability to provide tangible benefits to the populace,” the report explains.
The failures of the Afghan government, led by President Hamad Karzai, is a recurrent theme throughout the report.
“The Taliban is not a popular movement,” the report says, “but it exploits a population frustrated by weak governance.”
Public polling has shown little support for the Taliban, but Afghans are unlikely to support the Afghan government and NATO forces until they “can convincingly provide security, governance, and economic opportunities.”
“Bringing sub-national governance across Afghanistan is a slow, challenging process,” as page 57 of the report says. “Low levels of literacy, limited educational opportunities, competition from international aid organizations (which offer much higher salaries to educated and experienced Afghans than the government can afford), and widespread corruption complicate efforts to recruit, train, and retain quality personnel.”
In addition, the report says the Afghan government does not have the ability to provide adequate rule of law and justice to the Afghan people.
“The latest survey of Afghan perceptions of the Afghan government’s rule of law capacity shows an almost 7 percent decline in Afghans’ confidence in their government’s ability to deliver reliable formal justice. This is likely due to continued corruption and to the slow progress in hiring and placing justice professionals at the provincial level.”
Another poll found that fewer than half of Afghans trust the government to settle disputes.
Despite efforts by the Afghan government to uproot corruption in the Afghan Uniformed Police, “overwhelming reports of corruption continue” and “only a few areas have positive popular perception ratings of the [Afghan police].”
The report warns that if the corruption in the Afghan Uniformed Police continues at its current levels, “they threaten to keep the population separated from the government.”
Only 38 percent of the population lives in areas of Afghanistan rated as having “emerging” or “full authority” Afghan governance, a figure that has had “no substantial change since March 2010.”
On Tuesday, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) called for the United States to end its involvement in Afghanistan after it was revealed that NATO officials were duped into holding negotiations with a man posing as a senior member of the Taliban.
“The war in Afghanistan is taking place in a netherworld where facts and common sense have no place,” Kucinich said. “Elections are fake. Our deadline to withdraw is a fake. Now, we learn that a fake Taliban leader has been leading us to believe that NATO was facilitating high-level talks between Taliban leadership and the corrupt Afghan central government we’re propping up.”
“The only real thing about this war is the dead and wounded soldiers and civilians, the wasted tax dollars and the mounting evidence telling us to get out,” he added.
Last year, President Barack Obama announced July 2011 as the date the United States would begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, but his administration has decided to de-emphasize its plans to begin withdrawing US forces from Afghanistan in 2011, instead focusing on a 2014 withdrawal date.
Along with the United States, NATO forces committed to remaining in the country until at least 2014 at a Lisbon summit meeting last weekend.
Sixty-one members of the House of Representatives, including Rep. Kucinich, have signed a bipartisan letter to President Barack Obama opposing the presence of US troops in Afghanistan through 2014.