Senate Democrats

The Forgotten War: The State of Afghanistan

Despite reassuring words from the White House, it is undeniable the President has dropped the ball on the real front in the war on terror – Afghanistan.  Osama bin Laden remains at large, attacks are on the rise, poppy crops, which are used to finance Taliban operations are at record levels, and Al-Qaeda is regrouping on the Afghanistan, Pakistan border.  It is clearer than ever that we must redeploy our forces in Iraq so we can re-focus our efforts on the war on terror.

 Al-Qaeda and Taliban are gaining strength in Afghanistan. And the security is deterioating as attacks increase: 

Taliban and Al-Qaeda Are Gaining Strength in Afghanistan. “NATO countries are not giving the international force securing Afghanistan enough support and there are worrying signs that the Taliban are growing stronger, a detailed study by Britain’s parliament has found…But the chief preoccupation was a lack of support from other NATO countries to provide more troops to the 36,000-strong ISAF mission and evidence that violence, including Iraq-style suicide bombings, was growing as Taliban and al Qaeda-linked insurgents expand their sphere of influence outwards from the south.” [Reuters, 7/18/07]

President Karzai Said Security Situation in Afghanistan Has Deteriorated in Last Two Years. “The security situation in Afghanistan over the past two years has definitely deteriorated. There is no doubt about that. The incidents of terrorism affecting Afghanistan have increased. The Afghan people have suffered.” [CNN’s Late Edition, 8/5/07

  • Suicide Attacks and Coalition Troop Casualties Are Both on the Rise in Afghanistan. “I’m [Wolf Blitzer] going to give some statistics that seem to suggest the security situation in Afghanistan in recent years has deteriorated. For example, the number of coalition troops killed back in 2004, that year 58. In 2005 it went up to 130; 2006, 191. This year so far halfway into the year, already 130 coalition troops have been killed. As far as suicide attacks within Afghanistan, back in 2003, there were two. In 2004, there were six; in 2005, 21; and last year, 136 suicide attacks. This year the number is expected to perhaps double given the current rate so far.” [CNN’s Late Edition, 8/5/07]

National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell Says Al Qaeda Leadership in Afghanistan/Pakistan is Much More Likely to Guide the Next Attack on the U.S. Than Terrorists in Iraq:

  • Senator Jack Reed (D-RI): “Well, the question would be: If you had to establish a probability of a successful attack being organized and directed against the United States, would it emanate from Pakistan, with this newly revised Al Qaida leadership, or would it come out of Iraq?”
  • National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell: “My belief is the attack most likely would be planned and come out of the leadership in Pakistan.” [Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing, 2/27/07

President Karzai has admitted that US forces are not closer to finding Osama Bin Laden: 

President Karzai Said We Were No Closer to Catching Bin Laden Than We Were a Few Years Ago. Asked if Afghanistan and its allies, including the U.S., are any closer to finding Osama Bin Laden, President Karzai answered, “The information that we have in Afghan system, we are not closer, we are not further away from it. We are where we were a few years ago.” Karzai also said that he believed Bin laden was hiding “in this part of the world” but definitely not in Afghanistan. [CNN’s Late Edition, 8/5/07]

  • Osama Bin Laden Has Been At Large for 2,154 Days.

Meanwhile, Afghan poppy crop whcih was used to finance Taliban, is booming: 

Afghan Poppy Crop Up 15 Percent Since 2006, Now Accounts for 95% of World’s Total. “Afghanistan will produce another record poppy harvest this year that cements its status as the world’s near-sole supplier of the heroin source, yet a furious debate over how to reverse the trend is stalling proposals to cut the crop, U.S. officials say…U.N. figures to be released in September are expected to show that Afghanistan’s poppy production has risen up to 15 percent since 2006 and that the country now accounts for 95 percent of the world’s crop, 3 percentage points more than last year, officials familiar with preliminary statistics told The Associated Press.” [Associated Press, 8/4/07]

  • Afghan Drug Trade Linked to Taliban. “As President Bush prepares for weekend talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, divisions within the U.S. administration and among NATO allies have delayed release of a $475 million counternarcotics program for Afghanistan, where intelligence officials see growing links between drugs and the Taliban, the officials said.” [Associated Press, 8/4/07]

And U.S. is spending far less in Afghanistan than In Iraq: 

U.S. Is Spending $1.9 Billion Per Month on War in Afghanistan, Compared to $10 Billion Per Month in Iraq. “For the first half of FY2007, CRS estimates that DOD’s average monthly obligations for contracts and pay are running about $12 billion per month, well above the estimated $8.7 billion in FY2006. For FY2007, obligations are about $10 billion in Iraq, $1.9 billion in Afghanistan, and less than $100 million for enhanced security. This report will be updated as warranted.” [CRS Report, 7/16/07]