Mahmoud Sabit at PostGlobal

Mahmoud Sabit

Cairo, Egypt

Mahmoud Sabit is a historian and an authority on Egypt’s 19th century political reforms. Sabit also works as a writer and producer of historical documentaries. Close.

Mahmoud Sabit

Cairo, Egypt

Mahmoud Sabit is a historian and an authority on Egypt’s 19th century political reforms. more »

Main Page | Mahmoud Sabit Archives | PostGlobal Archives

« Previous Post | Next Post »

Deploy "Infinite Money" and Dialogue

Cairo, Egypt - Following the election of President Hamid Karzai, a Pashtun, the Afghan political leadership faced a daunting challenge: To reconstruct infrastructure and develop an effective security force with international assistance while avoiding the perception that they, the new Afghan leadership, was yet another regime manipulated by foreign interests.

Taliban military activities have surged and NATO's armed forces are engaged in active operations four years after the war ended. This suggests that efforts at building an effective security force are incomplete and that avoiding the perception of being subject to "foreign" interests may have been unsuccessful. Time is fast running out.

Afghanistan is one of the few Muslim countries in the 19th and 20th centuries to escape long-term foreign occupation by a colonial power. The British unsuccessfully attempted to subject Afghanistan to their control within their Indian imperium, but were defeated by the Afghan people. Many other Muslim countries in the same period were also subject to colonial invasion and conquest by imperial ambitions that they actively resisted by force of arms. The instances that come to mind include: the Libyan resistance to Italian colonialism in 1908, the Algerian resistance to French occupation in the 19th century, the Syrian nationalist resistance to French and the Iraqi resistance to British occupation. Even modern Turkey was subject to territorial annexation by the Allies following WWI, when the entire eastern portion of Anatolia was handed over to Greece. It required major military operations by the Turkish people under the leadership of Mustapha Kemal 'Ataturk' to rid their country of foreign occupation.

The emergence of an Afghan communist leadership following a coup d'etat in the 1970's, which led to a Soviet invasion in 1980 was seen by the Afghans as another attempt by an imperial power to impose its hegemony on a free and sovereign people. Afghanistan being a predominantly Muslim country looked to other analogous countries and perceived the Soviet invasion as a more modern version of earlier imperial incursions. Its armed resistance -- a loose federation of several political groups -- along with additional U.S. support and assistance by international Islamist Jihadi warbands, eventually defeated the Soviet Union in the late1980's. The civil war for political control of Afghanistan that ensued in the 1990's following the Soviet defeat brought the Taliban into the ascendant, and they were able to defeat the other political contenders for control of the country, and impose an armed peace. However unsavory the Taliban were in their methods and ideology, they were still an expression of conservative Pashtun political and ideological aspirations. The Pashtuns have always been the dominant political/ethnic group within the Afghan polity. Their defeat at the hands of a coalition of the U.S. and its Afghan allies following 9/11 in 2001, brought in a new political dimension, one that could allow the slate to be swept clean, and a new beginning to be attempted.

One of the more disquieting media reports is that the Taliban seems to keep growing. The more that are killed, the more replace their numbers and engage in military confrontation. NATO military sources speak of a growing Taliban resistance despite the infliction of large casualties on their armed formations.

This also suggests that the economic race between the Taliban and the Karzai government is being won by the Taliban. The Taliban have been more effective in raising money to engage fighters, obtain intelligence, acquire tribal loyalties, and co-opt government officials than the Afghan government. Reports have suggested that the Taliban have been receiving massive funding through a share in drug profits; and that they have also not lost their Al Qaeda patron. One of the more glaring aspects of U.S. and NATO involvement has been their inability to defeat Al Qaeda remnants in the border areas, or even capture Osama Bin Laden. Both these factors suggest that the promises of economic assistance extended to President Karzai have been either insufficient or delayed, and that the shifting focus of attention on Iraq has diluted Coalition interest in the complete defeat of Al Qaeda and of the rapid reconstruction of Afghanistan.

According to news reports, the Taliban fighters are being paid salaries three times larger than government military commanders. As Rome's Cicero said two millennia ago, "the sinews of war are infinite money." To prevent Afghanistan from becoming a failed state, a political and an administrative solution are needed.

It must include the ability for President Hamid Karzai to be the ultimate authority in all of Afghanistan's regions, to as rapidly as possible build up an effective military force to impose such a central authority throughout the country, one that could also in the future avoid the use of NATO counter insurgency military operations, which attract the unjust perception and stigma of 'foreign' manipulation. Trained, effective and well paid government administrations avoid falling into the trap of corruption that foreign aid often provokes. Also, this will enhance the transition of regional governors, formerly held by men of charismatic personalities, to a form dominated by a competent institutional framework. The solution should incorporate an effective political dialogue to engage the administration's opponents to participate in an indigenous Afghan political process.

Please e-mail PostGlobal if you'd like to receive an email notification when PostGlobal sends out a new question.

Email the Author | | Digg | Facebook

Reader Response


Post a comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.


  • America's Role
  • Business and Technology
  • Culture and Society
  • Environment
  • Human Rights
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Islamic Movements
  • Israel-Palestine
  • Security and Terrorism
  • The Global Economy
  • The New Asia
PostGlobal is an interactive conversation on global issues moderated by Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria and David Ignatius of The Washington Post. It is produced jointly by Newsweek and, as is On Faith, a conversation on religion. Please send your comments, questions and suggestions for PostGlobal to Lauren Keane, its editor and producer.