In fairness to the numbnut General that chose that title, it’s actually Operation Omid…

Dread surrounds Operation Hope

The word omid means "hope" in Afghanistan’s Dari language. But, judging by the reaction of local residents, the coming U.S.-led military offensive against the Taliban in Kandahar could not be more inappropriately named.

Ya think…?

It is just so wrong on so many levels…!

Back in early March, I had mentioned it was a bad idea to invade Kandahar when it was first announced… In which, Sec. Gates had personally warned of ‘Dark Days’ ahead… This will be the largest assault ever planned by ISAF, against the second largest city in Afghanistan, that also happens to be the ‘spiritual’ home of the Taliban, and, ruled by Hamid Karzai’s little bro Ahmed, the King of Kandahar… WTF are they thinking…?

Some more from the Global Post…

“Operation Omid will bring more insecurity, instead of peace,” said Salaam, who lives in the Maiwand district of Kandahar Province. “We have just seen that the opposition has accelerated its attacks. There are more and more explosions in the province. You cannot bring peace through war.”

Operation Omid will not be fully underway until early summer, according to the U.S. military. The exact size of the force to be deployed is not yet clear, but it is expected to swallow a good portion of the 30,000 additional troops being sent to Afghanistan this year.

The operation will center on two districts — Arghandab and Zheray — rather than on the city itself. Fighting in a major population center, moreover one that is home to some of Islam’s most cherished relics, such as the cloak of the Prophet, would go against the hearts and minds strategy that has been a central tenet of the new U.S. strategy.

The Taliban seem eager to get things started.

Over the past week, a series of suicide explosions have rocked the city center. This, along with the much-publicized shooting of a civilian bus by U.S. troops, has given Kandaharis a taste of the approaching conflict. They do not seem to relish the prospect.

The U.S. military has been talking of Kandahar ever since they declared success in Marjah, a dusty patch of desert in neighboring Helmand Province. Once the Afghan flag was raised over the Marjah district center in early March, Kandahar became the focal point of the stepped-up battle against the Taliban.[…]

The city is not under Taliban control — the government, in the person of Ahmad Wali Karzai, the president’s half-brother and head of Kandahar’s Provincial Council, dominates the center. This is one reason that the fighting will be spread out to the districts surrounding the center.

Observers say that this will prompt the Taliban to adopt their usual tactics — melting away until the foreign forces retreat, then flooding back into the area.

“The armed opposition is experienced in guerrilla warfare,” said Bismillah Afghanmal, a senator from Kandahar. “They know when and where to fight, and they know very well how to flee the area that is the focus of the operation. Omid will not bring good results.”

Some of the fighters are moving into more remote districts, but a good number are heading for the city, where they appear ready to carry out regular acts of “asymmetrical warfare” — suicide bombings, the planting of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), and other measures designed to spread terror.

As a result, the situation in Kandahar city is deteriorating rapidly, according to author Alex Strick van Linschoten, who has been living in the southern capital for more than two years conducting research on the Taliban.

“We are running out of ways to say how bad things are,” he said. “There is a general feeling of paranoia and fear — fear of what’s going to happen tomorrow, of what the future will bring. No one wants to be in Kandahar. Everyone is trying to sell up and get out.”

Even BetrayusPetraeus warns of the tough slog to secure Kandahar…

…Gen Petraeus told a news conference held during an unannounced visit to the city on Friday that the Taliban would resist attempts to drive them from their havens.

”The enemy is going to take horrific actions to disrupt the progress that Afghan and coalition civilian and military elements are working so hard to achieve,” said Gen Petraeus, whose command includes Afghanistan and Iraq.

”There have been tough moments here in Kandahar in recent weeks – that is well known. And we know that there will be more tough moments in the weeks and months ahead…The enemy fights back, and our experience in Iraq was that it got harder before it got easy.” […]
”The operation in Kandahar is not going to be a conventional offensive. It is rather precise operations out, around the city,” said Gen Petraeus…

Precise operations…? Speaking of Iraq’s lessons learned by Betrayus, the much ballyhooed Human Terrain Systems guys and gals had painted a bleak picture ahead…

As I’ve noted before…

Know Your Enemy: HTS’s Study Of Pashtun “Tribes”

…In this report, the HTS Afghanistan RRC warns that the desire for "tribal engagement", in Afghanistan, executed along the lines of the recent "Surge" strategy in Iraq, is based on erroneous understanding of the human terrain. In fact, the way people in rural Afghanistan organize themselves is so different from rural Iraqi culture that calling them both "tribes" is deceptive. "Tribes" in Afghanistan do not act as unified groups, as they have in Iraq. For the most part they are not ‘hierarchical’, meaning there is no "chief" for whom to negotiate(and from whom to expect results from). They are notorious for changing the form of their social organization when they are pressured from internal dissension or external forces. Whereas in some other countries tribes are structured like trees, "tribes" in Afghanistan are like jellyfish… […]

Rough Terrain

Under an experimental program in Afghanistan, teams of anthropologists and social scientists are working alongside soldiers to help win the war by winning over the Afghan people. It may seem like a brilliant idea. But in this battle, nothing is as it seems…

Here’s an excellent Youtube that I could not embed, but, it is a recent,startling, firsthand account on what it’s like on patrol, as Lt. Col. Campbell goes out for his farewell tour of his AO…! Entitled: Colonel Campbell’s War…

Carl Forsberg at the Institute for the Study of War released this blistering critique on the Politics and Power in Kandahar…

While most actors in Kandahar call themselves tribal leaders, few influential actors in Kandahar derive their influence from this position. Control over guns, money, and foreign support have become more important as sources of power.
• Influential actors in Kandahar nevertheless attempt to maintain influence over the tribal system and often organize their networks, militias, and cartels along tribal lines.
The Karzai family is the key to politics in Kandahar. The Karzai family and the Quetta Shura Taliban have emerged as the most powerful forces.
• Since 2001, Ahmed Wali Karzai has gradually built a powerful empire in Kandahar through the support of foreign backers and by bringing under his influence the province’s key commercial, military, and contracting networks.
• The Karzai family’s leading members, Hamid, Mahmoud, Qayum, and Ahmed Wali, have built significant influence in different spheres, strengthening the family’s power as a whole.
• President Hamid Karzai reassigned Kandahar Governor Gul Agha Sherzai to Nangahar province in 2005, replacing him with Asadullah Khalid, a family ally. This gave Ahmed Wali Karzai informal control of the province.

Kandahar’s political and economic life is dominated by several commercial and military networks.
• Ahmed Wali Karzai is at the center of a number of these networks, and has considerable influence over business life in Kanahar City itself, with significant private security, real estate, and contracting interests.
• His control of private security forces, as well as his influence over contracting firms like Watan Risk Management and Asia Security Group allows him to enforce his political will in the city and exert influence over all business transactions.
• Ahmed Wali Karzai has formed alliances with other key strongmen in Kandahar, who control transit routes and run commercial/military networks. These strongmen include Arif Noorzai, Abdul Razak, and Matiullah Khan.
• Family members and allies of Gul Agha Sherzai run a rival commercial network to Ahmed Wali Karzai’s.
Ahmed Wali Karzai has used his informal power and his connections to the Afghan state to give him shadow ownership of the government of Kandahar.
• Through the Independent Directorate of Local Governance, the Karzai administration in Kabul controls the appointment of provincial governors and district officials, giving it considerable power over local government.
• Given Ahmed Wali Karzai’s influence in Kabul, local government officials understand that challenging Ahmed Wali Karzai’s influence would jeopardize their political futures.
• Local powerbrokers have intentionally kept the official police force weak. This allows them to manipulate the police force to their ends and forces ISAF to rely on their private security companies. Because many of these companies are controlled by or allied with Ahmed Wali Karzai, this ensures both revenue and influence.
The local population sees the government as an exclusive oligarchy devoted to its own enrichment and closely tied to the international coalition.
• Anti-government sentiments are exploited and aggravated by the Taliban. Many of the local powerbrokers who are excluded from Wali Karzai’s network see the Taliban insurgency as the only viable means of political opposition.
• The 2009 presidential and provincial council elections demonstrated that Ahmed Wali Karzai’s popular base in Kandahar was narrowing.
Despite limited popular support, Ahmed Wali Karzai’s maintenance of power rests on three interdependent pillars. These are:
• That the international coalition, despite growing frustrations, will continue to give him de facto support where it matters and will not take actions that challenge his fundamental interests.
• That he will continue to receive critical state backing and continue to control the formal government of Kandahar. He assumes that Hamid Karzai will continue to support him and that the government ministries in Kabul will not challenge his influence due to his brother’s political ascendancy.
• That he will maintain the ability to exert power over locals through his use of force and his control over the provincial economy.

This truly is Obama’s great Afghan Hopey-Changey thing…!

One can pray that there’s not too much bloodshed on all parts…!

In š?? All?h…