UK ‘made matters worse’ in Afghanistan

A new report says that early military misjudgements by British commanders in Afghanistan made the insurgency worse and actually won over recruits to the enemy.

The study published by leading think tank Chatham House is based on 53 interviews with Taliban commanders and fighters in Helmand province, as well as local elders.

It claims to be the first in-depth study of the situation in Afghanistan from the perspective of the Taliban.

Researchers concluded the insurgents are likely to try and retake Helmand Province after U.S.-led foreign troops withdraw from the area at the end of next year.

They say the British military antagonised the local population and was Ëœblindingly ignorantâ„¢ of local politics.

A high level of casualties has produced widespread support among field commanders for ceasefire talks, but the resilience of the insurgency and the growing influence of Taliban military commissions in the Pakistani cities of Quetta and Peshawar means they are “unlikely to give ground easily in negotiations”, says Theo Farrell, one of the study’s authors.

Farrell, head of the war studies department at King’s College London, and Antonio Giustozzi, visiting professor at the department, have published the study in the Chatham House thinktank’s journal.

“What we find is an insurgency that is driven both by a strong unifying strategic narrative and purpose – jihad against foreign invaders – and by local conflict dynamics: rivalry between kinship groups and competition over land, water and drugs”, they warned.

“The manner of the Taliban return to Helmand shows clear intent to retake the province,” the authors say.

Farrell and Giustozzi add: “By arriving with insufficient force, aligning themselves with local corrupt power-holders, relying on firepower to keep insurgents at bay and targeting the poppy crop, the British made matters worse.

“Far from securing Helmand, British forces alienated the population, mobilised local armed resistance and drew in foreign fighters seeking jihad.”

They describe British troops as “blindly ignorant of the local politics underpinning [the insurgency]”.

“Indiscriminate use of fire by British forces alienated locals who were driven from their homes or lost family members,” they write. “The pressure on what remained an undermanned force meant that the British lacked the presence and tactical patience to develop ties in most communities, and still had to rely on artillery and air power to get out of trouble.”

MOL/HE

Republished with permission from: Press TV