Anand Gopal

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Tag Archive for: kandahar

What Happened to COIN in Afghanistan?

Anand Gopal | Dec 21st, 2010 | Foreign Policy

In 2010, population-centric counterinsurgency doctrine — in which as much emphasis is placed on swaying the population as on fighting the enemy — was supposedly the guiding concept for U.S. strategy in southern Afghanistan. The Kandahar offensive, a series of counterinsurgency operations in restive Taliban strongholds, was to be the centerpiece of this approach. NATO’s chief spokesman James Appathurai explained the strategy by saying, “It is about protecting the population, about changing the political culture and perception… Kandahar is, from the psychological and communications point of view, the heartland of the Taliban… The biggest problem in Afghanistan is not the Taliban, but the lack of strong governance and the delivery of services.” But a close look at the last year reveals that the population-centric approach may not have been implemented at all.

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MIssed Opportunities in Kandahar

Anand Gopal | Nov 9th, 2010 | Foreign Policy

The following is excerpted  from Anand Gopal’s paper released by the New America Foundation’s Counterterrorism Strategy Initiative, “The Battle for Afghanistan: Militancy and Conflict in Kandahar.” The paper is available here.

The Victor’s Hubris and the Failure of Reconciliation

Just as Kandahar was falling, fissures appeared in the Taliban movement. As most of the government was crumbling-Kabul and other major cities had fallen, leaving just Kandahar, Helmand, and Zabul provinces still under Taliban control-some of Mullah Omar’s chief lieutenants secretly gathered and decided to surrender to the forces of Hamid Karzai.[i] This group included Tayeb Agha, at one point Mullah Omar’s top aide; Mullah Beradar, a former governor and key military commander; Sayed Muhammad Haqqani, the former ambassador to Pakistan; Mullah Obaidullah, the defense minister; Mullah Abdul Razzak, the interior minster; and many others.

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Private Security Companies Undermine Afghan Security

Anand Gopal | Oct 28th, 2010 | McClatchy

Pul-i-Charkhi, Afghanistan — In a wood-paneled office here in the dusty fringes of Kabul, Hajji Shirin Dil feverishly works the phones. He shouts orders into one receiver as he dials another phone, while aides wait patiently to speak to him.

He could be Wall Street day trader, if not for the sleepy gunmen by his side. Instead, Mr. Dil owns a profitable logistics company and is cutting deals with various warlords, whose private security companies protect his trucks carrying vital provisions to the foreign troops.

But a recent pledge by Afghan President Hamid Karzai to ban security companies threatens to grind this business to a halt, and in the process calls attention to the foreign forces’ reliance on a complex network of private companies and local strongmen to protect their supply lines.

“I can’t move anything without protection,” says Dil. “The Taliban can stop my trucks and the foreigners won’t get supplies.”

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