By Stephen Leahy
(Originally published Jan 31, 2006)
(IPS) – Washington’s attempts to bring security to Iraq and Afghanistan are not only making life harder for local people, they are breeding more terrorists, warn international security experts.
Under its anti-terrorism agenda, the U.S. has centralised power and security in post-conflict Iraq and Afghanistan, which ironically creates perfect conditions for terrorists and criminals.
“There is a great fear that unstable states and post-war societies provide an ideal breeding ground for terrorist training and activity,” said Albrecht Schnabel, a senior fellow with the Research Programme on Human Security in Bern, Switzerland.
“Yet almost three years after the toppling of Saddam Hussein, Iraq is characterised by chaos, violence and disintegration. The methods used to rebuild Iraq’s security sector are simply making matters worse,” he told IPS.
Schnabel is co-editor of a new book, “Security Sector Reform and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding“, published by United Nations University press and written by an international group of academics and military commanders who examine the record and challenges of security sector reform in post-conflict societies.
“Instead of stabilising places like Iraq, international efforts to centralise power are creating a more fragile security environment than ever before,” Schnabel said.
The United States is avoiding widely recognised peace-building processes that involve external military powers quickly creating a basic security environment and then allowing domestic peace- and nation-building efforts to succeed.
It takes several years to develop reliable internal security institutions that have the support of the population, as was achieved in Bosnia and East Timor, Schnabel acknowledged.
“It’s a difficult transition and countries and their people are vulnerable to terrorism and exploitation,” he said, adding however, that by putting its own domestic security interests first, the U.S. has created a lose-lose situation.
“The overall objective of external military forces in post-conflict societies is to eliminate violence in the society,” said David Carment, director of the Centre for Security and Defence Studies at Canada’s Carleton University.
“The U.S. focus in Afghanistan is to eliminate terrorists and their bases,” Carment, who did not contribute to the book, said in an interview. That different focus can compromise efforts by international participants to bring peace, he said.
The recent U.S. tactic of rearming some warlords in parts of Afghanistan and using them to fight the Taliban has angered rival warlords who had turned in their weapons under a U.N.-sponsored disarmament programme in 2003 and 2004.
“You can’t build a nation by supporting warlords,” said Schnabel.
Carment calls recent U.S.-led efforts to target Afghanistan’s opium trade “simplistic” and predicted that violence in the region will escalate and hurt local people. “It will take a minimum of five to 10 years before there will be any signs of stability across Afghanistan,” he said.
Schnabel estimates that full democracy is at least 20 years in the future.
Meanwhile, the time frame for stability in Iraq is an open question.
Please complete article: POLITICS: Bungled Peace-Building Opens Door to Terrorism.