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Cablegate: Special Media Reaction: Amidst Musa Qala Fighting, Afghans

VZCZCXRO7342
OO RUEHIK RUEHPOD RUEHPW RUEHYG
DE RUEHBUL #4022/01 3440239
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 100239Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1690
INFO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 3719
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 4309
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 004022

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/FO DAS GASTRIGHT, SCA/A, SCA/PPD, S/CRS, S/CT,
EUR/RPM, INL/CIVPOL, INR/R/MR, STATE FOR NSC WOOD, OSD FOR SHIVERS,
CENTCOM FOR CSTC-A, CG CJTF-82, POLAD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO PGOV PREL AF

SUBJECT: SPECIAL MEDIA REACTION: AMIDST MUSA QALA FIGHTING, AFGHANS
BLAME BRITISH TROOPS FOR ITS TAKEOVER BY TALIBAN


1) SUMMARY: As Afghan and Coalition forces attempt to recapture the
Musa Qala District of Helmand Province from the Taliban, Afghan
editorialists blame British forces there for allowing it to fall to
the Taliban in the first place. A deal struck between British forces
and local tribal elders in February collapsed soon after, and the
Taliban overran the district. Commentators are optimistic about the
operation's success. But they bemoan the opportunity the Taliban has
had there to rearm, train, and grow poppy, and warn that only the
continued, augmented presence of Afghan security forces will keep
the Taliban from retaking the district. END SUMMARY.

2) An unsigned editorial in independent daily Arman-e-Millie
entitled "Why Musa Qala Turned into a Terrorist Stronghold," stated
that, "The military operation by Afghan, U.S., and British forces to
recapture Musa Qala in Helmand Province is in progress and it seems
as if they might succeed in clearing the town of Taliban and other
terrorists, but this is not the subject to be discussed. Rather, the
subject is how the Taliban were able to capture Musa Qala and turn
it into a terrorist stronghold in the first place almost a year ago.


The so-called 'political accord' between the British forces and the
tribal elders was broken by the Taliban insurgents and they were
able to carry heavy artillery and modern weapons from the other side
of the border to stand firm and fight the Afghans and Coalition
Forces. Right after this occurrence, some intelligence agencies
started shouting that the Taliban are a reality, military operations
against them are not the best solution, and we should hold talks
with them.

But after ten months, they found out that the Taliban are not only
threatening Afghanistan, but the region and the world. They must be
defeated by military operations. This unacceptable process shows
that the international forces have been mistaken in their fight
against terrorism, and they have only looked after their own
interests, which is very hard for the Afghans' to understand. If
the foreign forces are really committed to defeating the terrorists
in Afghanistan and the region, then they should clear every other
region under the Taliban's control, in addition to Musa Qala, and
should seek strategies to prevent their future recapture by the
Taliban by any means."


3) An unsigned editorial in independent daily Weesa entitled, "The
Musa Qala Accord Was Not a Good Game to Have Played," stated that,
"The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and international forces
are gathered in Musa Qala to put pressure on the Taliban and force
them to leave the region. Musa Qala fell to the Taliban after a
simple accord on a piece of paper was signed by British troops with
the tribal elders. The results show that the Musa Qala accord was a
gamble, and the ANSF and NATO forces have suffered badly from its
consequences.

The fall of Musa Qala to the Taliban was a success for the Taliban,
and a big morale booster for them as well. Now, if the government
succeeds in recapturing the district, then it will be a morale
booster for the government after months of psychological pressure by
the Taliban and their insurgent activities."

4) An unsigned editorial in independent daily Rahenejat "The Need
for a Major Government Presence in Troubled Areas," stated that,
"Efforts to recapture the troubled district of Musa Qala are being
exerted after almost a year of the Taliban's presence there. The
Taliban turned Musa Qala into a safe haven for poppy cultivation and
drug trafficking. Meanwhile, there were no plans to recapture the
district by the ANSF or the allies to be found. The collapse of Musa
Qala paved the way for the foreign terrorists to create obstacles
for the Government of Afghanistan and its allies. There have been
several attempts to reclaim the district by negotiating with tribal
elders rather than by military operations, but these have proven
insignificant.

During this period the people in Musa Qala have suffered a great
deal. Living under the rule of the terrorists, there have been times
when they were used as human shields in fighting the ANSF and
Coalition forces. The Government of Afghanistan and its allies

KABUL 00004022 002 OF 002


should have attempted to recapture the district long ago, and should
have prevented the Taliban insurgents from training and equipping
their evil forces in the area.

The Government and the Coalition forces' shortfall in training the
Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police is felt all the
time, and this has been a major factor in the collapse of many
districts and regions into the hands of the Taliban. Therefore, the
government should also consider guarding the recaptured regions an
important issue as well."


DELL

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