Canada in Afghanistan, 2001

in Afghanistan
2001-2014: Lessons Learned
Presentation by: Derakhshan Qurban-Ali
“Defence, Diplomacy, and
Development” to “Danger,
Distrust and Disaffection”
• A review of lessons learned from
Canada’s war in Afghanistan and its
effect on Canadian defence policy from
Soviet War in Afghanistan
Civil War in Afghanistan
Taliban Rule in Afghanistan
9/11 and the US-led invasion
of Afghanistan in 2001
Canada in Afghanistan 20012014
• 158 Canadian soldiers
• 2000 wounded
• $18 billion spent
• Canada needs to ask:
what lessons can be
learned from this
1. What were the structural constraints
Canada faced going into the mission?
2. What were the mistakes Canada made
through the course of the Afghan
3. What should Canada learn from this?
• "It was crystal clear from the start that there was no
strategy for the clear articulation of what
they wanted to achieve, no political guidance and few
forces. It was abysmal.”
• Our reasons justifying Canada’s engagement in Kandahar:
to take part in “an international response to the threat to
peace and security inherent in al Qaeda’s terrorist attacks;”
to support the United Nations;
to support NATO;
and to promote and protect “human security in fragile states.”
The Manley Report 2008
• Canada's engagement has been guided by clear
Canadian priorities with two main objectives:
(Manley 53)
1. Providing the necessary security to allow
development to take place in southern
Afghanistan; and
2. Supporting the Afghanistan government in
establishing good governance and in building a
better life for its citizens.
Taliban Controlled Areas
The Civilian-Military Divide
• "Civilians can never trust the
military leadership, not
because they are not
trustworthy, but because they
have a fundamentally
different world view.”
Janice Stein and Eugene Lang,
The Unexpected War: 9
Canada Peacekeeping Myth
Bamiyan: A Better Option?
Afghanistan Ethnic Demographics
Regional Security
Pashtuns and Pakistan
Pakistan’s support for the Taliban
• “No guerrilla movement that has
had a set of sanctuaries — let
alone the active help of a
powerful military like Pakistan’s
— has ever been eliminated”
• Fareed Zakaria, CNN Analyst (2012)
Who Are the Taliban?
Addressing Grievances
• Why are locals joining the Taliban?
• ANP (Afghan National Police) Abuses
• Corruption
• Poppy Crop Eradication
• Air Strikes
• 80000 internally displaced people as a result of
NATO air strikes
• Poverty
Taliban, Afghan Government,
or Al-Qaeda member?
• Wahabi Islamist
• Was the first one to invite Osama bin Laden to take refuge in
Afghanistan following his 1996 expulsion from Sudan
• During the Afghan civil war, financed by Saudi Arabia to
mobilize Arab volunteers for the Mujahedin forces
• Close relationship with militant groups such as Al-Qaeda
• Accused of knowingly assisting suicide bombers to
assassinate Northern Alliance leader, Ahmad Shah Massoud
• Established a terrorist training camp in Pakistan used by Al
Qaeda and other Islamic militant groups
• His forces slaughtered, burned, and raped their way through
a Shi’ite neighbourhood in Kabul during the Civil War
• Oppressor of women
Government Official!
Abdul Rasul Sayyaf
• As of 2007, Sayyaf is an
influential member of
• Calls for amnesty for
former mujahideen
• Candidate for the 2014
Presidential elections
• Came in fourth place
• Received 7% of vote
• Won Kandahar province as
part of the Islamic Dawah
Organization of
Taliban, Afghan Government,
or Al-Qaeda member?
• Controls a militia of several thousand men
• Controls drug-smuggling routes
• Participated in civilian massacres
• Known for torturing prisoners
• Widespread human rights abuses
• Widely feared
• Etc…
Government Official and Canadian ally!
General Abdul Raziq
• Provincial Police
Chief in Kandahar
• US and NATO ally
• Frequent partner of
Canadian Forces in
Kandahar in fight
against the Taliban
• The Manley Panel made a clear distinction
between the Canadian forces and the
combatants they were fighting:
• “Afghanistan is at war, and Canadians are
combatants. It is a war fought between an
elected, democratic government and a
zealous insurgency of proven brutality.”
• Reality is not as black and white
NATO Strategy and Losing
“Hearts and Minds”
A War on Three Fronts
• War on Poverty
• War on Terror
• War on Drugs
• Canada and NATO can not win these wars
through arms and military force
• A diplomatic and political solution is the only
viable and sustainable solution that takes into
account everyone’s grievances and includes
everyone at the negotiating table
Shortcomings & Lessons to Learn
1. Lost legitimacy and lacked the ability to distinguish ourselves from
the forces we were fighting
• By supporting corrupt warlords
• Detainee crisis
• Support of a corrupt government regime
• Losing popular support (burning poppy crops & air raids)
2. Not understanding the cultural and historical legacy of Afghanistan
before engaging in Kandahar; both domestic and international factors
• Trusting Pakistan
• Not understanding the tribal, ethnic, and historical tensions in Afghanistan
Brief Conclusions
• In order to successfully execute nation-building and
counter-insurgency efforts in a country like Afghanistan,
Canada needs
1. to address the civilian-military divide
2. leverage its unique diplomatic capabilities
3. develop a greater understanding of the geopolitical,
historical, and ethnic factors involved in a given
regional security complex, and
4. consistently uphold the tenets of Canada’s human
rights standards in military conduct abroad.
Something to reflect upon…
“Sitting on straw mats in the mud structure that serves as
a guesthouse, drinking green chai made from goat's milk,
the village elders ask the Western visitor if the West will
stay this time. Swatting flies away, the Western visitor
insists that he and the other Westerners are here for the
"long haul." The elders exchange knowing looks; they
have heard this before and were abandoned. The
international community needs to provide the Afghans
the opportunity to prove the promise.”

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