Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Nato fires artillery shells at $150000 a round

The US and Canadian armies in Afghanistan are now using GPS-guided artillery shells at the cost of $150,000 a round. This is the most conventional artillery shell or as a matter of that the most expensive conventional ammunition ever fired by the armies.

In 2004 I met a mercenary working for Dyncorp in Kabul. The man came from Texas and had very little idea of the world, the man argued that the western armies are in Afghanistan to test their weapon systems. He continued, US army spends billions on training and weapon systems; Afghanistan is the best place to put the training in practice and use the weapons. At that time, I laughed at the man. I couldn’t take his serious because he was lacking information about most of the subjects he was talking about. This discredited his mentioned argument.

Four years on I realised that the man was right to some extent. The use of weapons like this makes one think that NATO is testing their weapon systems. The US and Canadian armies for the first time purchased some experimental shells to go along with its brand new 155-millimetre M-777 howitzers. The Excalibur shell uses satellite signals and software to guide it to within 10 metres of its intended target, even when fired from up to 40 kilometres away.

The diverse climatic and geographical condition of Afghanistan suits the introduction of GPS-guided artillery shells; western armies can test shell's performance under different weather and terrain. Live targets, such as Taliban insurgents, serve to identify the vulnerability of the weapon system. By firing at Taliban NATO can see if any counter-measures such as jamming GPS signals of the shell could take place. The question of whether the Excalibur has been led astray by sophisticated interference technology is still something both the army and defence industry officials are reluctant to address.

I wonder what happened to armament critics and activists. The cost of a single shell equals around 7 school buildings or changing teaching curriculum for grade three, which still refers to the presence of foreign forces as Soviet occupiers or the Red Army. Over four million kids in Afghanistan are studying in open air.

Afghanistan doesn’t benefit from this war, contractors like Raytheon pockets the money. Raytheon is the defence contractor which developed Excalibur. The more scared NATO is the more they use expensive weaponry and that means less money for reconstruction. A new study by ACBAR has found out that more than 60% of the international fun allocate for assisting Afghanistan reconstruction goes to western cooperates. the report adds that reconstruction assistance is a fraction of military spending. Since 2001 the United States has appropriated $127 billion for the war in Afghanistan and the US military is currently spending nearly $100 million a day in the country, some $36 billion a year. Yet the average volume of international aid provided by all donors since 2001 is woefully inadequate at just $7 million per day.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

UK to send judges for Sharia training to the Taliban

Recently the Anglican Church [Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams] expressed that there was nothing wrong with the British legal system adopting some laws from Islamic shari'a and implementing them for British citizens of the Islamic faith.

The UK and the rest of civilized world has been accused of hypocrisy before in their support of regimes such as Karzai in Afghanistan which is implementing Sharia law, the entire le
gal system of Afghanistan is based around Sharia. This comes contrary to any human right value and the secular notions which exist in UK and Europe. an Islamic system include shari'a criminal law – that is, punishments such as killing the apostate (a Muslim who converts to another religion), amputating a thief's hand, cutting off a brigand's opposing hand and foot... stoning the adulterer to death, publicly flogging wine drinkers, killing homosexuals by throwing them from a high place, or allowing a relative of a [murder] victim to deal with the murderer, instead of the state. This is the system supported by UK in Afghanistan but Archbishop of Canterbury want to introduce it in Europe. This is the first time a high ranking religious figure in Europe expresses support for Sharia inside Europe. An Islamic legal system in Europe as suggest by Anglican Church would mean:

"1) Permit polygamy for European Muslim citizens, and not punish them for it – even though this is considered criminal under European law;

"2) Permit European Muslim citizens to beat their wives to discipline them, as the Koran urg

"3) Allow men to unilaterally decide to divorce without requiring any court proceedings, as this is a right guaranteed to men by

"4) Give daughters only half the inheritance rights that sons have, while widows receive only an eighth of the inheritance;

"5) Not consider women's testimony the equal of men's in
shari'a courts;

"6) Deprive a divorced woman of custody of her children if she remarries;

"7) Allow European Muslim citizens to marry in traditional marriages without the need to officially register these marriages;

"8) Eliminate adoption, since it is contrary to

"9) Force a woman whose Muslim husband converts to another religion to divorce him, because he is an apostate;

"10) Prevent European Muslim women from marrying non-Muslims…"

European countries will never accede to these catastrophic demands, for reasons more practical than humanist. If so, why does the statement of the Anglican Church matter? the fact that they were proposed by the British archbishop sends the wrong message to the Islamic world. The gist of this message is that there is no contradiction between Islamic
shari'a and Western civilization if shari'a applies only for Muslim citizens. To absolve itself of responsibility in the eyes of fundamentalist Muslims, who will be persuaded by the Church's statements that the clash is not between Christians and their Church on the one hand and Muslims on the other but a clash between Muslims and the secular states. This will create greater hostility among Muslim citizens of European countries to their host countries, and will lead to increased violence and terrorism in the future…

These statements by the Archbishop of Canterbury also mean that the Church – or at least part of it – still does not believe in human rights legislation, and takes every opportunity to cast doubt on the universality and comprehensiveness of the humanist principles.

Although the demands announced by the bishop are far from implementation in a Europe that long ago distanced itself from medieval values and thought, the reverberations of these demands will have a grave impact on the Islamic world. fundamentalist in places like Afghanistan are picking fights with the liberals who can’t dare to oppose sharia openly, and their attitude is: 'How can you oppose shari'a law in your own countries when we see that the Anglican Church is seeking its implementation in Europe?'

more about this topic in the Arab liberal e-journal Elaph.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Nato launches Psy Ops to distract the hostile Afghans

Nato and its member states have faced increasing public criticism in Afghanistan. Mass protest was lounged against Denmark, Holland and other western countries for printing Mohammad Cartoons; voices of concern were also heard among political circles against the appointment of Lord Ashton as UN representative to Afghanistan. Public protests in Afghanistan against western countries would negatively affect NATO presence. Nato, appears, to have learned from the culture of protest and can turn it around to its own benefit.

A credible source within Polish Contingent of NATO, which preferred to remain unanimous, has confirmed that the PsyOps Unit of Polish contingent based in Gardez and Sharana was involved in an operation resulting in a mass protest on Monday. PsyOps stands for Psychological Operation and is the military version of Public Relation. The protest took place after a Polish Newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza wrote an article about possible Russian contribution to Nato operation in Afghanistan. the article was translated into Farsi and Pashtu by Polish PsyOps unit and circulated among Gardez citizens. Azizuddin an employee of Gardez Information and Culture Department said to a local journalist that copies were delivered to the State Radio and TV station in Gardez too. The demonstration was staged in the southeastern Paktia province against a Russian plan to contribute peacekeepers to International Security Force. Attended by hundreds of Gardez, Paktia provincial capital, residents. Provincial Ulema Council head Maulvi Khaleq-Dad told Pajhwok News Agency that “deployment of Russian forces will amount to aggression against our motherland; we are staunchly averse to that proposal.” A declaration issued at the conclusion of the protest denounced the proposed deployment of Russian troops to Afghanistan as an act of aggression that would be stoutly resisted. This is the first cleric gathering in Afghanistan in the last few months not to protest against the Nato member states or the Cartoon publishing. The clergy managed to rally thousand of Afghans in the cities of Mazar, Kabul, Hirat, Nangarhar and Kandahar to protest against cartoon reprint. Political analysts have pointed out that the aim was to distract public, or specifically the Mullah and clergy, attention from Holland and Denmark for the reprint of controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad and the forthcoming film.

Gazetta Wyborcza’s story had no mention of the Russian side amid the statements made by the first deputy press secretary of the Russian president, Dmitry Peskov, defying rumours of Russia sending troops to the Afghanistan. NATO has a well funded PsyOps unit in Afghanistan to influence public opinion or to persuade them to act in certain ways. For this reason the Afghan operation is most popularly dubbed “Winning Hearts and Minds”. Although the name psychological operation is associated with guerilla warfare, rebellion and subversion Nato has made no effort to camouflage it. to give an example of the scale of NATO propaganda; in 2007 an Afghan marketing agency, alone was contracted for six million dollars by the International Forces to set up hundreds of NATO friendly billboards. The techniques used to influence the public attitude and opinion so far has been the use of positive messages and promises for a better future through the use of newspapers, radio and television. Nato PsyOps is not subject to Afghan media law and legislation, based on the agreement signed by the afghan government and UN in Bonn in 2001. Afghanistan provides unregulated media access, radio and TV frequency for Nato.

In spite all Nato investment the propaganda so far hasn’t been a very successful operation partly because Nato hasn’t yet built a good knowledge of Afghan psychology. The message Nato was trying to put through was to promote women’s’ rights, peace, anti-Talibanism and disarmament; those messages didn’t get through very well. This is the first time that Nato has manipulated a rally through operatives and propaganda. It is quite easy to manipulate the mass organised around the clergy, Afghan warlords and tribal leaders have managed to do this with a very low budget. Clergy rallies are organised around sensationalism, the hot temper of participants are used to intimidate opponents and gather commitment from participants. Afghan Rallies are effective to use if the Psychology is understood. Rallies are organised around trusted authorities or clergy. The participants have little knowledge of the protest and are mostly uneducated, therefore they accept information uncritically. Information is wrapped in Islamic concepts to make it believable for participants. Most often participants do not understand their own motivations or reasons for their presence.

Its hard to understand the purpose of the newspaper for running the story other than lack of facts. But the subsequent circulation is intended to stimulate anger among a fanatic group by reminding of an external threat in order to provide a reasonable justification for NATO's military presence in Afghanistan.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

islam is looking backward

The taboos in Saudi Arabia are different from the taboos in Lebanon, and from the taboos in Egypt and afghanistan, and so on. they tend to view the taboo itself as fundamental. This was not the case in the past. Islam have reached the point where everything is ruled by prohibitions. Everything is prohibited unless it is proven to be permitted. This is the problem of muslim society and culture. Instead of making progress, we are regressing and if only we were regressing in a reasonable manner. Unfortunately, we are regressing in a superstitious and unreasonable manner.

Muslim societies were more open, more accepting of other opinions and different behavior. But the so-called 'religious awakening' – it is a religious 'slumber,' not as an awakening The Prevalent Culture Is Backward, Yet The Political Regime Uses This Culture To Glorify Itself, Without Realizing That It Is Destroying The Future

The question is why this ideology has spread. this is a kind of psychological mechanism. With all the defeats and disappointments of the muslims. If you examine the history of the muslims in the 20th century, you will see one defeat after another, one disappointment after another. The future has become uncertain and dark, rather than enlightened.

the political regime is to be blamed and the prevalent culture. It is a mixture of many things. Another example is when intellectuals turn everything into ideology, riding a wave of populism and flirting with the peoples, instead of enlightening them. They flirt with the peoples and follow them, rather than leading them. The prevalent culture is stagnant. It does not recognize the 'other,' and does not want to recognize that it is one of many cultures in the world. It considers itself to be the 'number one' culture – the world itself.

From the early 20th century to this day, we constantly hear in the muslim world: We should adopt the good things from the West and ignore the bad. You cannot do such a thing. When you consider the products of modern civilization – the car, the computer, and so on – these are all products of a certain philosophy, a certain way of thinking. If you adopt the product, but ignore the producer – you have a problem. You cannot do such a thing. For us the product is new, but the thought is not. We move forward with our eyes looking backward.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

ختم دوره آموزشی غرض تولید فلم های مستند

مرکز فرهنگی آلمان(گویته انستیوت ) جهت رشد تولید فلم های مستند افغانی   برنامه آموزشی   سه ماهه را درکشور راه اندازی نموده بودکه هفته گذشته به پایان رسید .

در این برنامه 5 فلم مستند 20-15 دقیقه یی در زمینه وضعیت زنده گی کودکان افغان آماده شده است که بیشتر سناریو آن روی شرایط زنده گی اطفال افغان میچرخد .

گفته میشود که  هزینه مالی این برنامه از سوی مر اکز فرهنگی کشورهای فرانسه وآلمان  پرداخته شده است .

هم چنان سال گذشته گویته انستیوت ده فلم مستند را آماده نموده بود که در فیستیوال های  بین المللی نیز  نامزد شد . مرکز فرهنگی المان در بخش های دیگر نیز فعالیت ها یی داشته است. به گفته مسولین این مرکز،    برای آگاهی از خطر ماین  چندین نمایشگاه عکاسی  نیز در کابل از سوی   مرکزنامبرده راه اندازی شده است  .


Friday, March 07, 2008

سرباز اردو محکوم به اعدام شد

یک تن از خورد ضابطان قول اردوی 207 ظفر ولایت هرات، شام روز پنجشنبه در یک محکمه علنی به اعدام محکوم شد.این خورد ضابط در ماه سرطان سال جاری چهارتن از منسوبان اردوی ملی و یک تن از سربازان قوت های ایتلاف را به قتل رسانده و 7 تن دیگر از همقطارانش را نیز مجروح نموده بود.

جلندر شاه بهنام قوماندان قول اردوی 207 ظفر هرات می گوید که این سرباز به اساس حکم فقره های 5 و 6 ماده 395 قانون جزای کشور، از سوی هیات قضاییه ریاست محکمه ابتدایی عسکری قول اردوی 207 ظفر، به اعدام محکوم شده است.

صفوف اردوی ملی مملو از جنگجویان جنگ های تنظیمی میباشد، این اشخاص بنابر نداشتن تجربه و اخلاق اجتماعی نتوانسته اند به شغلی دیگر بپیوندند و دوباره به یک دستگاه جنگی پیوسته اند. بعضی از جنگجویان تنضیمی و جانیان جنگی های داخلی نتوانستند از عهده تعلیمات نظامی، که برا اساس نظم و دسپلین نظامی بنا گشته، برایند و ارتش را قبل از اختطام تعلیمات ترک گفتند. بنابر همین دلیل است که حدود 40 فیصد از سربازان قبل از اختطام آموزش های نظامی ارتش را ترک میکنند. اما گروه از ایشان در ارتش موجود اند و دست به جنایت میزنند. چند قبل نیز دو سرباز این قول اردو در حالی محکوم به اعدام شده بودند که در ولایت غور هنگام اجرای وظیفه از مردم به زور پول اخذ نموده و دو تن را به قتل رسانده بودند.



Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Afghans protest at Danish cartoons

Over a thousand protesters gathered in Mazar Shariff to protest against the republication of a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad in Danish newspapers, they also demanded the withdrawal of Danish and Dutch troops from Afghanistan. I don’t believe there is going to be any repercussion negatively affecting NATO troops in Afghanistan. If there was any it could have happened in the first round of print. But I do think it will negatively affect the image of the west in Afghanistan, while they are trying so hard to win the hearts and minds of Afghans in unwinnable battle against insurgency. The protesters, mostly religious clerics in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, also condemned plans by a right-wing Dutch politician to broadcast a film on the Koran.

I think the publication of cartoon shows how reconcilable Islam is with western secular values. In the west its seen as gesture to reemphasize western commitment to freedom of expression. In the muslim world its not about freedom of expression. It’s about the way of life. Afghanistan's Religious Affairs Ministry has called the reprinting of the cartoon as an attack against Islam. Several other Islamic countries have demanded that the film by the Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders must not be released.

I believe Afghans and muslims in general didn’t get the issue right. I don’t believe the publisher benefits from the muslim reaction but I do think there are circles which do. thus influencing public opinion in the West in aid of various political projects, for example to support further military intervention in the Middle East. In the west and specially in Europe the dispute is as one between Islam and freedom of expression.

The controversy was used to highlight a supposedly irreconcilable rift between Europeans and Islam. If the muslim world publishes insulting cartoons to Europe would Europe react like this. I don’t think so. as the journalist Andrew Mueller put it "I am concerned that the ridiculous, disproportionate reaction to some unfunny sketches in an obscure Scandanavian newspaper may confirm that ... Islam and the West are fundamentally irreconcilable"

The cartoon was republished in 130 newspapers in 49 other countries, not to humiliate muslims but as an act of support of free speech. Not only muslim nations saw it humiliating but countries with murky record of freedom like Belarus, Russia and south Africa also prohibited the cartoons or punished the publishers. What is bugging me is the reaction of moderate muslims protesting peacefully against conditional freedom of speech, requesting punishments and press control.

Afghan clerics and the government not only got the crisis wrong, as they usually do with crisis but they are also full of hypocrisy. The government budget and effectively Afghanistan is funded by countries that have published the cartoon. Why do you receive their charity while strongly oppose their values. Cartoon is another pretext for mullahs, as its for the right wing in the west, to strengthen their grip on society. Protests like today is solely the initiative of few mullahs and its primarily aimed at suppressing moderate elements of Afghan society, if such a thing exist:-)

Monday, March 03, 2008

Afghans in UK: Citizens, Settlers or Social Parasites?

Hundreds of thousands of Afghans live in Britain, most of them came here as refugees and has been awarded live to remain or British nationality. Most of them benefit from social welfare systems and public funding, with the integration of eastern European into EU, a larger poll of refugees are coming to Britain, better educated and less relying on social welfare. We are now conceptualizing Afghan immigrants at the points where our analysis privileges categories generated by European Union.

Figures of threat thus haunt the way we explain diasporic formations. this haunting, selectively, by investigating two figures of threat for immigrant theory: the parasite and the settler. The use of such figures ultimately insinuates several presumptions into analysis. One of these presumptions is most significant: that a diasporic community is ‘Other’ and, as such, is separate, separable, and isolable from a national people. The nation in Europe is now the continent, a European nation is more relevant today than a national. Instead of afghan labour its preferred to have polish labour. The forms of knowledge production that intersect domains of immigrant studies and the modern nation-state, thus, constitute immigrant as a particular kind of problem that needs to be dealt with. The new immigration schemes in Britain reflects this, its practically impossible for refugees to get to Britain overland today while most of afghans travelled to Britain via land ten years ago. Even for skilled worker its made several times difficult under the new scheme introduced in march 08.

This focus on immigrant-as-problem deflects our attention from more precise analysis of the nation-state’s relations to alterity. In contrast to normative models that focus on the settler and the parasite, the nation state sees the difference of immigrant as a threat and simultaneously desires to interpolate diasporic difference into a multicultural vision of the nation’s people. In other words, the underside of what is often seen as a diasporic threat is a vision of promise in possibility of liberal unity. This goes back to Britain paranoia of world war 2, Britain was scared of Fascism and promoting a mix society was state policy until recently. However, this figure of promise, which also works at the margins of immigrant theory, is highly problematic; it uncritically recuperates, on the one hand, a capitalist fantasy of productive labour and commodity circulation and, on the other, a nationalist fantasy wherein diasporic difference may be abstracted into national equivalence. In the face of new Europe and plenty of poor immigrants form eastern Europe this is proving more difficult. East Europeans are productive labour and its easier to abstract their cultural differences under pan European ambition.

Sexuality plays a critical role in these diverse processes of abstraction. Particularly significant is the presumption found within discourses of the nation-state that both the minority and majority communities proliferate through distinctive sexual norms, interdictions, and transgressions—in other words, what is operative here is a generalized hetero-normativity which is posited to move between and conjoin a national /European and a supposedly separate immigrant community. This is a stupid argument, This analytic is designed not only to reveal the hidden presumptions of ‘promise’ within figures of threat, but also to draw out another, perhaps more powerful, figure of alterity—not of the immigrant conceived of as the nation-state’s ‘other’(Tololyan, 1991), but of an otherness of the national/European people itself.

We can’t answer the question I posed as a title, I argue, in theory. Britian is entering into a new chapter of economic and social relation with Europe and it affects its long standing view of multiculturalism. Afghans in Britian needs to be studies to understand their social contribution.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Afghanistan: still a bleeding wound but this time the infection spreads to the West

An updated version of the United Nations threat map was published in June of 2006, showing rising danger levels for humanitarian workers in many parts of Afghanistan, areas which coloured solidly pink indicates "extreme risk."

this resembles like a bleeding wound, the blood has spread across afghanistan intensely since 2002. the bleeding wounds, those pink splotches on the UN maps have spread until they now dominate the country's south and east. The latest map, updated in December, shows 14 of 17 districts in Kandahar are entirely designated as extreme risk.

Even so, the statistics are bad. The United Nations's count of security incidents in Afghanistan last year climbed to 13 times the number recorded in 2003, and the UN forecasts even worse this year. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization says insurgent attacks increased 64 per cent from 2006 to 2007. In the first two months of this year, some analysts have noticed a
15- to 20-per-cent rise in insurgent activity compared with the same period
last year, raising alarm about whether the traditional spring fighting season has started early.

The prospect of another year of rising bloodshed has forced a moment of
reckoning among the Westerners. Almost everybody involved with Afghanistan is taking a hard look at the country's future, the mission is
increasingly a source of raucous debate in Canada and among its NATO allies; this is the sort of thing which worries me. i am not worried about westerners losing troops in the war but when they want to withdraw. lets hear it from an experienced old man, if i may reiterate my analogy, an experienced operator of afghan wound, a f
ormer Soviet generals have told the German government not to expand its engagement in Afghanistan and instead think about pulling out its troops. "More troops won't solve this problem, that's our experience. They only increase the tragedy," Lev Serebrov, a former Soviet army general and now a parliamentarian in the Russian Duma, said earlier this week in Berlin, according to the Berliner Zeitung newspaper. Germany, he said, shouldn't be thinking about sending more troops to Afghanistan, but "how it can pull out" of the country. A serving Russian military official, Gen. Ruslan Aushev, said the situation in Afghanistan reminded him strongly of the military operation the Soviet Union had in the country in the 1980s. "We were there for nearly a decade, first with a battalion, then with a division, then with 100,000 troops -- and in the end, we were forced to retreat,"

When managers from all the major humanitarian agencies in Kandahar gathered in a high-walled compound to swap war stories last month, it wasn't the tales of kidnappings and suicide bombs that caused the most worry. Nor was it the reports of insurgents enforcing their own brutal laws and executing aid workers. "The scary thing was, no foreigners attended the meeting," a participant said. "Everybody had evacuated."

Most aid organizations quietly withdrew their international staff from
Kandahar in recent weeks, the latest sign that the situation here is getting worse. It's now almost impossible to spot a foreigner on the city streets, except for the occasional glimpse of a pale face in a troop carrier or a United Nations armoured vehicle.

At least the foreigners can escape. For many ordinary people the ramshackle
city now feels like a prison, with the highways out of town regularly blocked by Taliban or bandits. Residents have even started avoiding their own city streets after dark, as formerly bustling shops switch off their colourful neon lights and pull down the shutters. There is rarely any electricity for the lights anyway, partly because the roads are too dangerous for contractors to risk bringing in a new turbine for a nearby hydroelectric generator.

Corrupt police prowl the intersections, enforcing a curfew for anybody
without that night's password, or bribe money. The officers seem especially nervous these days, because the Taliban hit them almost every night with ambushes, rocket-propelled grenades or just a deceptively friendly man who walks up to a police checkpoint with an automatic rifle hidden under a shawl.

Insurgent attacks have climbed sharply in Kandahar and across the country.
But some analysts believe the numbers don't capture the full horror of what's happening in Afghanistan's south and east. When a girl in a school uniform is stopped in downtown Kandahar by a man who asks frightening questions about why she's attending classes, that small act of intimidation does not appear in any statistics.

Kabul was roaring with activity as foreign aid poured into the capital, and
the international community wanted to spread the prosperity into rural areas. It was widely believed that a few thousand troops could stabilize a province such as Kandahar.

In a blunt assessment this week, Vice-Admiral Michael McConnell, the U.S. intelligence czar, admitted that the Karzai government controls less than one-third of the country. The Taliban hold 10 per cent on a more-or-less permanent basis while the rest is run by local warlords, he said, describing the situation as deteriorating.

Influential US Senator, John Kerry, who was in Afghanistan last week, said Tuesday the Afghan Government has become disconnected and isolated. The government in Kabul has become somewhat disconnected, isolated, however you want to call it, from some of the provinces. And it's critical that that connection become robust, Kerry told reporters in Washington during a press conference on his trip to Afghanistan.

Even if villagers aren't afraid of the Taliban, many join up because they
find the new government unpalatable. No regime has ever been overthrown at the ballot box in Afghanistan, so political opposition often becomes part of the insurgency.

Many Afghans view the government as a family business, reaping the spoils
from foreign donors at the expense of those who don't belong to the well-connected tribes or family networks.

For rough comparison, NATO sent 40,000 troops into Kosovo - a place roughly
one-quarter the size of Kandahar and with no active insurgency in 1999. More than one-third of them are still there eight years later. In fact, NATO has five times as many troops deployed in Kosovo as Canada has in Kandahar.

Comparisons with other insurgencies show a similar shortfall of soldiers in
the Afghan war: Conflicts in Somalia, Malaysia, Sierra Leone, East Timor and Iraq all required far more troops per capita than NATO has devoted to Afghanistan.

's economic growth is also expected to continue slowing. Private investment was cut in half in 2007 compared with a year earlier, to about $500-million, and trade within the country will be hampered by Taliban and criminal roadblocks on the main highways.

Nearly everyone agrees, however, that Afghanistan will likely see rising violence in 2008. Two Western security analysts predicted that the year will bring increased sophistication in the Taliban's technology; they're likely to use so-called explosively formed penetrators for the first time, adopting a technique often used in Iraq to puncture even the most heavily armoured vehicle with a specially shaped explosive.