Italy has announced that it will keep its 350 peacekeepers in Afghanistan through the end of June, three months longer than previously agreed.--Stephen V Cole
Current estimates are that it will cost $15 billion to rebuild Afghanistan. But foreign donors have pledged only $4.5 over five years and only $90 million of the $1.8 billion that was supposed to arrive the first year, has been delivered. The problem is that foreign donors first want financial controls in place to track the money, so as to avoid seeing most of the money stolen. There is some resistance to this in Afghanistan, as it is felt that if the warlords are not given large bribes, civil war will start again. Meanwhile, the Taliban are still out there (in Afghanistan and Pakistan) and keeping their heads down. But Taliban leaders have openly told journalists that their plan is to wait for fighting between warlords to start up again. Then, as they did in 1996, the Taliban will return and seize power. The Taliban deny any current relationship with al Qaeda, but the two forces are found operating together out in the mountains. The foreign anti-terrorism coalition knows they have to keep the warlords from fighting each other and strengthen the central government. But who will be running the central government won't be known until after the Loya Jirga meets next month. So the fog of uncertainly won't clear until late Summer.