U.N. sees surge in Afghan violence
WASHINGTON – Afghanistan is suffering its most violent year since the 2001 U.S.-led intervention, according to an internal United Nations report that sharply contrasts with recent upbeat appraisals by President Bush and his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai.
“The security situation in Afghanistan is assessed by most analysts as having deteriorated at a constant rate through 2007,” said the report compiled by the Kabul office of the U.N. Department of Safety and Security.
There were 525 security incidents – attacks by the Taliban and other violent groups, bombings, terrorism of other kinds, and abductions – every month during the first half of this year, up from an average of 425 incidents per month in 2006.
Last year was the most violent since the U.S. post-Sept. 11 offensive that ousted the hard-line Taliban Islamic militia from power and drove Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida terrorists into neighboring Pakistan.
The U.N.’s Half-Year Review of the Security Situation in Afghanistan underscored the continuing resurgence of the Taliban, which many experts attribute to Bush’s decision to shift troops and resources to Iraq, the U.S. failure to capture the militia’s top leaders, and the refuge the militia has secured in the lawless tribal region of neighboring Pakistan.
Bush and Karzai met for talks Friday in New York and later touted advances made since the Taliban’s ouster, including reduced childhood mortality rates, and increases in the numbers of health clinics and children going to school.
“Afghanistan, indeed, has made progress,” said Karzai. The following day, he offered to meet the Taliban’s spiritual and political leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, and to offer militia members Cabinet seats if it would bring peace.