Paris : le 11 May 2011 l’ambassadeur Omar Samad a délivré un discours au 16eme Conférences Stratégiques Annuelles d’IRIS intitulé “Afghanistan – 10 ans de conflit”
Mes remerciements les plus sincères Monsieur le Directeur à vous et à votre équipe à l’IRIS pour votre invitation et l’organisation de ce colloque à un moment crucial et opportun. Je tiens aussi à remercier les institutions qui soutiennent cet évènement.
Je suis heureux de constater la diversité féconde des opinions, aussi bien afghanes qu’internationales, qui pourront s’exprimer au cours de la discussion de ce jour. Beaucoup de noms familiers, représentants d’institutions ou simplement d’eux-mêmes, qui vont certainement apporter à cette conférence une grande richesse de connaissances et d’expériences…
Les Afghans se souviennent très bien, c’était il y a 10 ans, lorsque notre pays était ignoré des préoccupations mondiales, que seuls quelques courageux osaient faire savoir au monde la crise oubliée, et qu’une résistance afghane retranchée à l’intérieur du pays, avec presque aucun espoir de surmonter seule les conflits, faisait face à des difficultés incroyables dans sa lutte contre un mélange de terroristes et d’extrémistes, hébergé par le régime taliban et avec des bases arrières au delà de nos frontières – qui paradoxalement, existent toujours.
Cette situation a changé drastiquement avec les tragédies du 11 septembre, l’Afghanistan s’est trouvé propulsé au premier plan de l’agenda politique et de la sécurité mondiale. Depuis lors, beaucoup de choses ont évolué dans la vie des Afghans, ainsi que pour beaucoup d’autres gens de par le monde.
A ce jour, le bilan est un mélange de quelques réalisations importantes, de revers inquiétants, de déceptions et d’un optimisme prudent quant au travail réalisé, mais encore incomplet, et à celui qui reste à faire.
As we speak, events in and around Afghanistan, and related reverberations across the globe are expected to shape our future, in a direction that is not exactly clear at the moment. Important discussions are taking place in Kabul, Washington and other capitals on reassessing the strategies, costs and underlying authority for this UN-sanctioned mission that is now almost 10 years old. We need to go through this exercise to redefine the direction and the goals that we aim to realize to avoid mission failure or allow apathy from setting in.
In the post-Osama world, our core belief is that a precipitous withdrawal, as some are suggesting, will be counter-productive, most probably leading to a dangerous unraveling. However, it is appropriate to ask whether the footprint should change and how? Should timelines and benchmarks be modified, and how do we re-prioritize the tasks that are in progress? We need to collectively seek coherent answers and solutions to such questions.
Afghans are, obviously, a key component of the re-assessment. Our intention is to continue to step up to the plate, while we engage and interact with our international partners, who play an impressive supporting role, and with whom we are defining the parameters of a common strategic outlook based on common interests and ground realities.
The people of Afghanistan are also in re-evaluation mode, and will hopefully be wholly invested in a decision-making process that will better define the contours of future cooperation and responsibilities.
As part of the overall agenda, we are focusing on a framework for strategic cooperation with the United States and possibly other key multilateral platforms, the transfer of security responsibilities according to a timetable from NATO to Afghans forces; and a reconciliation programme that was launched a few months ago.
The strategic framework will help us manage the functions relating to security and defense, on how best to raise Afghan capacities and address in a sustainable manner issues such as adequate equipping of the forces. Another dimension should dwell on our social and economic development agenda with the explicit aim of increasing domestic revenues and harnessing the natural resources and agricultural potential that the country possesses. And third, helping us build and reform state institutions to enable better responsiveness and accountability.
NATO’s top priority this year will be to transition authority and responsibility in parts of seven provinces to Afghan forces. While it is expected that the training and mentoring of our forces will continue beyond 2014 – the date set to accomplish this task – Afghan forces are at this stage more concerned about quality of training and equipment than the quantity of volunteers that are recruited for the army and police.
Another facet of this strategic evaluation concerns the political outreach programme launched not long ago to reintegrate fighters and reconcile with elements that are able and willing to disassociate themselves from terrorist groups, respect the tenants of the Afghan Constitution, especially concerning gender rights, and renounce violence. Although there are no visible signs of a rush to reconcile, initiatives are at play, while it seems that the Afghan population prefers to err on the side of caution. What is certain, though, is that any such process needs to be Afghan-led and solicit the support of a great segment of society to be effective and durable. It cannot become a tool in the hands of regional players to manipulate the genuine Afghan desire for a just peace.
We ask ourselves whether recent events might influence groups such as the Taliban and their handlers to seize the moment and enter into substantive talks? There is hope among some Afghans that the Taliban will also learn a lesson. The Government has made it clear to them that the door for reconciliation is open for those who are serious about living in a peaceful, democratic and developing Afghanistan. Others are more skeptical, and see more complex patterns emerging.
The premise that the world minus Osama, where we are told the war’s financial and public opinion burdens are becoming untenable, should lead to an accelerated Afghan end-game, is one scenario that needs hard and deep analysis and debate. Let us not rush to judgment or repeat the grand strategic error of the Soviet occupation period, where under “Reagan’s rule” all roads and covert aid management decisions were handed over to a neighboring country’s intelligence service, and as soon as the Soviets withdrew, the international community walked away prematurely, leaving a vacuum that was then filled by regional proxy rivalries, much bloodshed, loss of Afghan sovereignty, and eventually a takeover by Taliban allied with Al Qaida in the mid 90s.
Granted, OBL is no longer the figurehead of an organization and chief promoter of a school of action that has fortunately found few disciples in Islamic societies, but the brand is still around, the followers are still active, and their operators will in our view act in a highly opportunistic manner to inflict hurt and damage on those who – Muslim or not – stand for a different worldview, one that is based on people power, basic rights and pluralism.
For the next few months, diehards within the Taliban, using skills learned from foreign fighters, will try to make the most of psychological warfare tactics using bold methods that increasingly aim at soft targets. They will try to make up for losses they incurred last year as a result of the surge.
One such ground reality is occurring at this moment in Nuristan province where several hundred insurgents are staging attacks on government forces. Another played itself out this week in Kandahar, where dozens of insurgents and suicide bombers tried to paralyze the city. There have been other tragic incidents of attacks on policemen, suicide bombings on government installations, and even reprisal against former colleagues who had joined the peace process. Will this type of crude and bloody action lead to genuine political talks down the road? The question is open to different interpretations and analysis, for which there is no concrete answer at this point.
There is no doubt that beyond the suffering that terrorism inflicted upon people around the world, it was also responsible for the killing of thousands of men, women and children in Afghanistan, including some of our renowned resistance leaders. To most Afghans, OBL’s death in Abbottabad also reinforces the belief that specific cliques across our borders harbor and provide covert support to groups that espouse violence.
We continue to urge the international community to be vigilant and show resolve by directing their attention to the real sanctuaries and training facilities that lie outside Afghanistan. Afghans hope that once and for all, Pakistan will do what is necessary to re-evaluate the highly volatile situation that we all face via-a-vis extremism, and as an earnest partner take the necessary steps to fight it across the board, not in a selective manner. This will surely help alleviate the serious trust deficit that exists in regards to the effectiveness of the fight against those we consider as our common enemies.
The future may seem somewhat hazy at the moment because of too many moving parts in a complex and continually shifting environment, but in my opinion, the general aspirations of the Afghan people are clear and continue to resonate in society via political representation, the parliament, jirgas, shuras, the mass media, civil society and other channels that were shut down 10 years ago. Every poll taken over the past few years clearly demonstrates that Afghans across the ethnic and socio-economic spectrum are against the re-Talibanization of their society. They are, however, fully supportive of economic, political and social development strategies to the extent that a fragile environment permits it.
I firmly believe that one of the greatest accomplishments of the past 10 years in Afghanistan, which has undoubtedly inspired many in the region and beyond is the opening up of space for democratic activity – yes, even if it’s not to the standard of western democracies – highlighted by freedom of expression, assembly, movement and so on… understanding that it faces challenges and obstacles that aim to limit the space or manipulate it. One of the greatest challenges facing Afghans, especially the young internet generation, is to protect and not allow this space to shrink or take on an undemocratic turn.
Today, the real end game for Afghanistan is complex, but can be narrowed down to two complementary tracks:
One, to continue to build a sustainable Afghan foundation for democratic rule and functional institutions, based on ethics of public service, good governance, justice and economic activity, and two, to work collectively to put an end to policies that promote extremism at the regional level, thus trying to trigger a paradigm shift that can move us from a purely confrontational disposition to a broader, multi-layered non-militaristic approach. As part of a strategic recalibration, this approach will necessitate a mix of focused containment – smart counterterrorism if you will – deterrence – meaning smart intelligence work – and broad regional diplomacy, backed by resources that can help accomplish our stated goals.
Mesdames et Messieurs,
Cette conférence est intitulée « Afghanistan – 10 ans de conflit ». Elle aurait pu aussi bien s’appeler « Afghanistan 33 ans de conflit ». Ceux qui m’ont déjà entendu parler savent très bien l’importance que j’attache à l’histoire de ma génération … les leçons apprises comme les erreurs à éviter. Lorsque l’on pèse le pour et le contre de rester, pour combien de temps encore, avec combien d’effectifs militaires, et avec quel objectif final en tête, on ne peut éviter, de se référer à cette histoire, en particulier en ce qui concerne sa dimension régionale et géostratégique.
Alors que les stratégies sont en cours de réévaluation, que la mission est en phase d’être rééquilibrée et des modifications envisagées, l’espoir en Afghanistan est que nous ne perdions pas de vue les sacrifices et les investissements qui ont été faits, ni notre objectif commun d’un transfert attentif des responsabilités aux Afghans, tout comme d’aider la région à se stabiliser, en concentrant nos efforts sur la sauvegarde des droits civiques et la prospérité de nos peuple, facteurs qui ne manqueront pas d’affaiblir l’attrait de l’extrémisme.
Les Afghans restent prudemment optimistes, et j’espère que la communauté internationale continuera à jouer son rôle constructif et que nous nous concentrerons sur les tâches essentielles à venir de façon cohérente et coordonnée.