NEW YORK (Reuters)
- Afghanistan is at risk of reverting to control by warlords and the United
States of suffering a defeat in the "war on terrorism" unless
Washington strengthens the Kabul government, a nongovernmental report said
It recommended the Bush administration bolster President Hamid Karzai and
quickly build more international support for economic, diplomatic and security
The report was co-sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations and the
Asia Society in New York with a task force of 60 people in the diplomatic,
business and humanitarian fields. They analyzed Afghanistan since the U.S.-led
"Unless the situation improves, Afghanistan risks sliding back into
the anarchy and warlordism that prevailed in the 1990s and helped give
rise to the Taliban," it said, referring to the puritanical Islamist
group that governed the country of 28 million from 1996 until the 2001
"Such a reversion would have disastrous consequences for Afghanistan
and would be a profound setback for the U.S. war on terrorism," said
the report, "Afghanistan: Are We Losing the Peace?"
Before overthrowing the Taliban for harboring the al-Qaeda network, accused
of masterminding the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the United States said it
would make speedy efforts to help rebuild the nation. Since then, other
critics have accused Washington of falling short on some of its goals.
One of the lead authors, Frank Wisner, a former U.S. ambassador to India,
said U.S. credibility was on the line and if Washington "did not get
it right in Afghanistan it will be a lot harder to convince others to work
with us to get it right in Iraq."
The authors said the Bush administration policy of excluding U.S. troops
from peacekeeping responsibilities outside Kabul "fails to address
the growing security challenge that the Karzai government faces."
They said Washington should be prepared to help fight regional leaders
The report said the mandate of 11,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan should
include peacekeeping outside the capital, or support for an enlarged International
Security Assistance Force, now 5,000 strong. It called for the disarmament
of local militias and increasing the Afghan National Army to 27,000 from
the target set of 9,000 by the summer of 2004.
Among other recommendations were that the United States should provide
at least $1 billion in reconstruction aid for each of the next five years
and rebuild the Kabul-Kandahar road by the end of 2003, as promised by
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