As the war in Iraq develops into a greater quagmire reports are surfacing that the insurgency is being used by Iraqi and foreign militants as a training ground for wider operations. Rather than operate in camps as they did in the days of the Afghan Mujahideen, they operate independently or in small groups using a network of safe houses in Iraq. The Middle East Online reports:
It is a perfect model of urban combat that did not exist in Afghanistan," said Michael Klare, a professor and security expert at the University of Amherst in the United States.The CIA was cited in the New York Times as having reported:
Foreign fighters "will come back from Iraq with an ability to do terrible things. The longer the war goes on, the more people will be trained in this fashion, and the more of a danger they will pose," he said.
Iraq may prove to be an even more effective training ground for Islamist extremists than Afghanistan was in Al-Qaeda's early days because it is serving as a real-world laboratory.Klare was very unforgiving of Bush's handling of the worsening situation in Iraq:
Klare, who published a prophetic article in 2003 entitled "How to defeat bin Laden," was not optimistic that leaders in Washington would act to prevent the Iraqi resistance from evolving into a highly-mobile network of urban terrorism.And where are they going? Well...
"The professionals in the State Department, Defense Department and the CIA understand this very well. But it does not seem to affect decision-making in the White House, that has done everything wrong from the beginning."
While this is going on in Iraq the US is withdrawing 4000 of its troops in Afghanistan while NATO is preparing to boost its forces. In April The British assume command of an expanded NATO International Security and Assistance Force made up of 1 British brigade, 1 Canadian brigade, an Australian reconstruction team and a Danish company. The Dutch have been wavering on an initial offer of a battalion. The force remains too light for the job ahead, particularly since current ISAF troops have seen an increase in Taliban and insurgent activity. Some of the fighters who are using Iraq as a training ground are finding their way to Afghanistan.
The Scotsman reports that hundreds of fighters are gathering in Afghanistan ahead of the NATO deployment.
Attacks in Afghanistan are now running at more than 500 a month - it's getting as dangerous for westerners as Iraq in some places," said a British officer involved in planning the NATO peacekeeping mission in the south-west of the country.
The foreign fighters are making common cause with remnants of the Taleban regime hiding in southern Afghanistan and with local tribesmen who resent efforts by the Kabul regime, backed by the US and Britain, to clamp down on the drugs trade.
The two reports together paint an ugly picture. Afghanistan is poised, once again, to become as dangerous as Iraq is now. NATO forces are faced with a peacekeeping mission turning to a full blown insurgency and expanded combat operations. Australia, not a member of NATO, is showing hesitation and wants the Dutch to firm up their commitment before an Australian force is deployed.
All of this is, of course, a George Bush creation. His failure to properly secure Afghanistan in the first place before he became totally distracted with an unnecessary adventure in Iraq has caused south west Asia to become an expanded war. Not to mention that Iraq had no indiginous terrorists until the Bush administration attacked it and then failed to establish order on the ground.
NATO is walking into a trap created by the Bush administration's arrogance and stupidity.
You're doing a heck of a job, George.