Scrounging for Answers in Afghanistan

Ahmed Rashid 

As expected, the declassified strategic review of policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan released by President Barack Obama on December 16 for public consumption is extremely cautious and bland. One can only hope that the classified version has more meat on the bone, if the United States is to deal with the highly complex, rapidly changing situation in Afghanistan and the surrounding region.

The five-page report cites some progress in relation to al-Qaeda, Pakistan and Afghanistan but states that “the challenge remains to make our gains durable and sustainable.” It says the U.S. military surge this year has halted Taliban inroads in the south of the country, while the United States continues to successfully kill Pakistan-based operatives of al-Qaeda, which has been degraded to its lowest level since 2001. However, it warns that gains against the Taliban remain “reversable.”

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