In another two months, NATO will begin its massive invasion of the southern Afghan city of Kandahar. From the Pentagon’s perspective, this is about driving the Taliban out of its southern stronghold, and giving the Karzai government newfound credibility.
The residents of the city don’t appear likely to embrace the NATO troops as bringing stability, however, nor are they prepared to welcome the Taliban as defending the city from foreign occupation. After nearly nine years in the middle of this fight, they’re blaming both.
“Ten percent of the people are with the Taliban, 10 percent are with the (US backed) government and 80 percent of the people are angry at the Taliban, the government and the foreigners,” noted one major tribal leader from the city.
In addition to its regular role as battleground for the two opposing forces, Kandahar has also become a poster-child for the ineffective Karzai government, a city where his half brother Wali holds unrivaled power in government and tribal affairs and according to many the criminal affairs of the city, notably its drug trade.
This has led many to conclude that the American-led invasion will be centered almost exclusively around propping up a crooked government at a time when many tribals are looking for alternatives to dealing with them. Even if they succeed in this offensive it seems that it will only be a bandage, and the government’s sheer ineptitude will quickly erode any accomplishments.