The most senior British military commander in Afghanistan yesterday described the situation in the country as "close to anarchy" with feuding foreign agencies and unethical private security companies compounding problems caused by local corruption.
The stark warning came from Lieutenant General David Richards, head of Nato's international security force in Afghanistan, who warned that western forces there were short of equipment and were "running out of time" if they were going to meet the expectations of the Afghan people.The assumption within Nato countries had been that the environment in Afghanistan after the defeat of the Taliban in 2002 would be benign, Gen Richards said. "That is clearly not the case," he said yesterday. He referred to disputes between tribes crossing the border with Pakistan, and divisions between religious and secular factions cynically manipulated by "anarcho-warlords".
Meanwhile, in Iraq:
A ban on private vehicles had kept down violence Friday after one of the most violent weeks in the capital this year. It expired Friday evening, and within hours, heavy bursts of automatic weapons rang out.
Scattered bombings and shootings were reported in the capital late Friday and Saturday.
Elsewhere, three people were killed and five were injured in a bombing and shooting in the main market in Baqouba, where U.S. forces killed five civilians — including two women and a toddler — the day before. The U.S. troops had taken fire from a building during a raid for suspected terrorists.