The situation in Afghanistan remains difficult. How is this manifested?
First, there is no visible success in the struggle against terrorists, despite the fact that Americans dedicate many forces and much money to searching of terrain and to attraction of the Afghans to their side. Some mass media reported about big losses of American troops in eastern Afghanistan. According to them, during the special operation in the Shahi-Kot Valley (the Paktia Province) near the administrative center Gardez about 100 American soldiers and officers were killed and about 200 were wounded. The goals and tasks of that operation are not being reported yet, although it is known that after the massive missile attack of the Taliban and Al Qaeda forces American Special Forces and allied Afghan troops started a new search of the Shahi-Kot Valley, in which the large-scale operation of American forces called Anaconda was conducted two weeks ago. It is known that then the forces of the antiterrorist coalition swept more than 50 caves in the Shahi-Kot valley. They managed to find plenty of literature, maps, diagrams and so on, but they failed to find a single Talib. Last Thursday surface-to-air missiles were used against the American forces operating near Gardez, as a result of which four Apache helicopters were destroyed. According to experts, actions of the militants were very well organized.
Second, the difficulty of the situation is explained by the fact that there is no order still in the country, and the temporary administration of Hamid Karzai, as well as the UN and NATO peacekeepers cannot enforce it yet. Having assembled almost 20,000 servicemen in Afghanistan, international community is only thinking how to use them to restore order in the country. So far these forces are concentrated only in Kabul and on the Bahram base to the north of the Afghan capital. At any rate, Pentagon officers understand very well that combat operations against the Talibs and mercenaries are far from completion. Thus, Major Brian Helferty of the tenth mountain division of the US Army announced that American forces would remain in the country until they drive away Al Qaeda from the country and capture or kill its militants. According to him, unfortunately, there is much work left in Afghanistan. The mission of American forces is aggravated by the fact that there are lots of small centers of resistance in the country. However, says the major, American forces have enough resources to break resistance of the enemy.
Third, production of drugs does not stop in the country. According to Director of Russian Federal Border Guard Service Konstantin Totsky, the antiterrorist forces did not destroy a single laboratory for production of raw opium and heroin. According to the UN, in 2002 Afghanistan may produce up to three tons of drugs. Events in this country showed a weak dependence of drug production on changing of political regime and combat operations against the Talibs. Drug production involves many ordinary peasants, who produce poppy, anasha, hashish and other drugs instead of grain.
Under the Taliban rule incomes from drug trade were among the main sources of financing of terrorists. It is possible that now they will control drug production and sales secretly. Karzai, who issued one of his first decrees on prohibition of growing of drug crops and production of drugs, failed to achieve fulfillment of the decree. This circumstance shows that the incumbent Afghan authorities are weak, and international community cannot restore order there.
Fourth, besides the terrorists and Talibs, who are currently resisting Karzai, inter-ethnic and tribal contradictions and unauthorized actions of field commanders make their contribution to destabilization. At present forces of the United Anti-Talib Front, which were allies of the US and NATO countries in the struggle against Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, have become uncontrollable gangs of marauders.
Anti-American and separatist attitude is strong in the country. The third force is also emerging. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the leader of the Islamic party of Afghanistan and former Prime Minister of the country operating in the north of Afghanistan, calls on his former supporters to struggle against the government of Karzai and foreign troops. It is possible that he may enter a temporary alliance with the Talibs wishing to win power.
Other field commanders are operating in the Southeast, where Americans bore big losses. According to Afghan sources and mass media, local field commander Jalaluddin Hakkani organizes resistance in this area. His forces include many Chechen and Arab militants. After the battle against Americans in March Hakkani turned to new tactics. The militants have split into small groups and change places of their deployment permanently, disguising themselves as civilians. They call on local residents to join them, offering $100,000 for every captured soldier of the peacekeeping forces. A part of population (mainly religious Pashtos) support Hakkani. He has been known since 1979 as the founder of Mujaheddin movement against Soviet forces in the provinces of Paktia and Paktika. He knows the terrain very well and uses guerilla tactics. Hakkani is a serious opponent for American Special Forces. Meanwhile, the US and its allies demonstrate their resolution to keep struggling against the terrorists. Understanding the need to move their bases closer to the areas of possible combat operations the Mirage-200 fighter-bombers and American tactical assault airplanes A-10 (overall, 20 airplanes) were recently moved from the Kyrgyz Manas airfield to the Bahram air base. Americans also plan to use the Manas and other airfields in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan as intermediate bases for logistics of the coalition US and NATO forces deployed in Afghanistan. One way or the other, forces of the antiterrorist coalition are preparing for a long and difficult campaign against the Talibs and militants of Al Qaeda.
In turn, the latter are also preparing. According to military experts, active resistance of the militants will begin between May and June, when trees in mountains and oases will be covered with leaves. Green leaves will be the main threat for regular troops that search the terrain seeking for Talibs.
Thus, situation in Afghanistan remains difficult still. The country has neither economic, nor political, nor military stability. International antiterrorist forces are bearing losses, and the militants are getting more active preparing for new battles.