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Lässt sich das Erfolgsrezept des irakischen „Surge“ auf Afghanistan übertragen?


Eine neue Studie (für das Marine Corps) beschreibt, was zu beachten ist, wenn man die Lektionen aus dem Irak auf Afghanistan übertragen will. Entscheidend sind Politik und Diplomatie, schreiben die Autoren. Die schlechte Regierungsführung in Afghanistan schafft große Unzufriedenheit und  treibt den Aufständischen Unterstützung zu. Beim Reden und Verhandeln mit den Stammesführern sind aber deutliche Unterschiede zwischen Afghanistan und al-Anbar im Irak zu sehen. Eine essentielle Studie. Auszüge aus der Konklusion: 


In summary, counterinsurgency in Afghanistan will be different from counterinsurgency in Al Anbar. Any “solution” to the Afghan insurgency must address not sectarianism or a civil war but government misrule tied to a history of warlordism—strategic factors that define the problem. Without reducing the abusive behavior of the government and their warlordclients, it is hard to see how security measures will have a long-lasting effect. Security will not stop mistreatment at the hands of government officials or the continued predatory behavior of warlords.

Another strategic factor that cannot be avoided is the large safe haven in Pakistan’s tribal areas, where insurgents can readily train, recuperate, and organize; a permanent bastion. Given time, US forces may be able to pacify some parts of Afghanistan, perhaps even the bulk of the population. Nevertheless, until the policies of the Pakistani military change, the insurgents should be able to regenerate in the tribal areas. From there, they will be able to try again and again at breaking into pacified areas. Poppy does not help. Funds from its production and trade enhance the ability of the insurgents to keep going. In the end, their attempts may go nowhere but they will have the wherewithal to go round after round, fighting season after fighting season.

Other differences between Al Anbar and Afghanistan may not be strategic but will affect operations, most notably tribal engagement efforts. Tribal engagement, to include the development of tribal forces, will need to be built around the fragmented nature of the tribal system, the feuding of Pashtunwali, and the opportunism of warlords. Patience and forethought in the planning and execution of tribal engagement efforts are advised. Smallscale community successes are more likely than large-scale province-wide successes. Gaining the support of as many tribal elders as possible and using the shura system are likely to be necessary steps in any effort. Locally recruited forces—whether police or some kind of neighborhood watch—will only be as strong as the shura behind them.

Finally, the differences between Al Anbar and Afghanistan will affect tactics. A rural environment, the tactical skill of the insurgency, and Pashtunwali compel a re-thinking of the tactics of counterinsurgency. How Marines and Soldiers outpost, patrol, re-supply, collect bottom-up intelligence, and many other tactics—not to mention logistics—will have to adjust to a rural environment where the population is spread out over wide distances and to an insurgency skilled at small-unit tactics. The usefulness of certain other tactics deserves reconsideration, most notably cordon and searches, air strikes, and population control measures. Because of Pashtunwali, their costs may be greater than their benefits.

In spite of all these differences, Al Anbar and Afghanistan have some similarities. In addition to government misrule, Afghan insurgents also fight because of the presence of US (and allied) forces—infidels—in their country and, in some cases, because they want to see the establishment of an Islamic government.24 The same could be said of insurgents in Al Anbar.

Accordingly, the emphasis that was placed on giving Iraqis a lead role in counterinsurgency operations in Al Anbar will need to be replicated for Afghans in Afghanistan (even if we must at the same time try to empower the right leaders and guide them toward good governance). To give other examples, tribes are important political players in both regions,underlining the wisdom of tribal engagement of some kind; while advising indigenous forces and clear, hold, and build efforts have proven as effective in Afghanistan as Al Anbar, though the tactical details of implementation differ. These similarities make clear that some fundamentals of counterinsurgency remain the same even though strategy as a whole may need to be re-shaped around the unique characteristics of Afghanistan.